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Kazuto Ioka's bid for fourth world title ends in split-decision defeat

Kyodo

Japan’s Kazuto Ioka suffered his first loss in over four years on Monday when Donnie Nietes won a split decision to capture the vacant WBO super flyweight championship.

The 29-year-old Ioka, aiming for his fourth world title, had trouble coping the powerful inside punching by the 36-year-old Filipino in the main event of a world title fight triple header at Wynn Palace Cotai in Macau.

Earlier at the same venue, Japan’s Hiroto Kyoguchi won the WBA super light flyweight world championship, defeating Hekkie Budler by a technical knockout after 10 rounds.

Also on the card, Japan’s Masahiro Sakamoto lost his first shot at a world title, suffering a technical knockout as South Africa’s Moruti Mthalane defended his IBF flyweight title.

In the main event, Ioka, whose only previous loss as a pro came in May 2014, saw his record fall to 23-2. After a first round testing each other from a distance, Ioka closed with Nietes only to find the IBF flyweight champ capable of landing punches in close that Ioka had no answer to.

Nietes was given the edge on two judges’ cards, 118-110 and 116-112, while the third scored the fight 116-112 in Ioka’s favor.

As the fight wore on, Ioka launched hit-and-run raids, darting in before Nietes could unleash a salvo of punches. But these too failed to score points, while Nietes was often able to sucker Ioka in so he could land a flurry of unanswered body blows.

Nietes’ record improved to 42-1 with five draws. It was his second shot at this title.

Kyoguchi, moving up to light flyweight after having already won the IBF’s minimumweight title, was Budler’s first opponent since he won the WBA crown in May.

Through the early rounds, the 30-year-old Budler was throwing the most punches but not landing enough of them to lead in points. From the seventh round, Kyoguchi raised the intensity and began battering the South African with his left.

With both fighters tiring, the 25-year-old Kyoguchi maintained the bruising pace through the 10th round. The referee called the fight when Budler did not answer the bell to start the 11th round.

Kyoguchi remained perfect in 12 pro fights. The knockout was his ninth. Budler’s record fell to 32-4.

Sakamoto, who had no chance of winning a decision after trailing on points after seven rounds, tried to punch his way back into the bout, but the fight was stopped after the 10th round due to a cut near his right eye.