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Kazuto Ioka gets revenge over Donnie Nietes, retains WBO 115-pound title

Photo by Naoki Fukuda
13
Jul

The score is now even.

Japanese star Kazuto Ioka successfully defended his WBO junior bantamweight title, and gained revenge for a previous points loss, by posting a 12-round unanimous decision over fellow four-weight world champion Donnie Nietes at the Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo. The official scores were 120-108, 118-110 and 117-111.

As the numbers indicate, Ioka, who is rated No. 2 by The Ring at 115 pounds, had things mostly his own way against the Filipino veteran, who scored a 12-round split decision over him in December 2018.

There was quality action from the opening bell. Ioka claimed ring center and was busier and more versatile with his assaults. However, Nietes was sharp and slotted home some accurate counter punching, particularly with the right hand over the jab.

Both men used the jab to good effect, and the fight was predominantly contested at long range. But it was Ioka who made the tactical decision to target the body and that paid dividends as the bout progressed.

By the midway point, Nietes was moving more and punching less. Having completed the 12-round distance on 11 previous occasions, Ioka sensed the older man’s predicament and began turning the screw.

Not to be outdone, Nietes responded with a beautiful right uppercut in the ninth, which was met by a nod of approval from his opponent. The home fighter wasn’t shaken, but it was a significant warning shot.

Nietes kept looking for the uppercut in the 10th, but Ioka was wise to it now and bounced back with some excellent combination punching. The challenger was also badly cut over the left eye in this session from what looked like a solid right hook.

Ioka (29-2,15 KOs) closed out well in the championship rounds to secure a one-sided victory.

The 33-year-old technician has been largely dominant since the Nietes setback. His victims include Aston Palicte (TKO 10), Jeyvier Cintron (UD 12), Kosei Tanaka (TKO 8), Francisco Rodriguez Jr. (UD 12) and Ryuji Fukunaga (UD 12).

His goal now is to secure unification matchups against Juan Francisco Estrada (Ring, WBA), Jesse Rodriguez (WBC) or Fernando Martinez (IBF).

Nietes, 40, drops to 43-2-6 (23 KOs).

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