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Kazuto Ioka reviews Francisco Rodriguez Jr win, targets Ancajas, Chocolatito and Estrada

Ioka (right) nails Francisco Rodriguez Jr. Photo by Naoki Fukuda
06
Sep

Last Wednesday, Japanese star Kazuto Ioka utilized his boxing brain and skills to retain the WBO junior bantamweight title by edging gritty Mexican mandatory challenger Francisco Rodriguez Jr. via hard-fought 12-round unanimous decision in Tokyo.

Ioka, who is rated No. 3 by The Ring at 115 pounds, had to adjust following a difficult start, but he came on strong in the middle rounds and closed well to successfully defend his title for the third time.

“I’m not completely satisfied with the fight,” Ioka (27-2, 15 knockouts) told The Ring. “I wasn’t able to keep the distance that I wanted and that led to unnecessary exchanges.

“You have to give credit to Rodriguez; he came to Japan early to quarantine without his family. This shows his courage and commitment to fight 100 percent.

“His rhythm and movement was different than others. He would do a jump punch while on the move, so in the early rounds I had to figure him out. I was able to get comfortable in the middle rounds to start fighting my style.”

The four-weight world titleholder will now take a month off and spend time with his family. However, he is targeting a fall return and re-affirmed his long-term goal to face the best in the division.

“The next target is a unification bout,” said Ioka, who has been linked with IBF titlist Jerwin Ancajas. “I also would like to fight at the end of the year in Japan, as [December 31] is traditionally a day for big fights.

“Then, in the near future, I would like to fight the likes of Roman Gonzalez or Juan [Francisco] Estrada to unify all the belts.”

 

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on @AnsonWainwright

 

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