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Kazuto Ioka becomes first Japanese four-division champ with TKO of Aston Palicte

by Kaz Nagatsuka

Staff Writer

Veteran Kazuto Ioka became the first Japanese boxer to capture world titles in four different weight classes with a dramatic 10th-round technical knockout of top contender Aston Palicte of the Philippines for the vacant WBO super flyweight championship at Makuhari Messe Event Hall on Wednesday night.

Ioka fought carefully and patiently against the bigger Palicte, who seemed much more powerful, putting his guard up for much of the bout.

But the 30-year-old’s outstanding defensive technique and footwork finally paid off in the decisive round when he landed a heavy counter blow to Palicte and rained down punch after punch on his opponent.

Paclite was soon unable to do anything to fend off Ioka’s attacks and referee Kenny Chevalier got in between the two fighters and waved his hand to stop it with 1 minute, 14 seconds left in the round.

“I’ve dedicated everything I’ve got to getting this belt,” said Ioka (24-2, 14 knockouts), who competed in his native Japan for the first time in two years and two months. “It’s been a while for me to fight in Japan, but I’m thrilled that I’ve been able to accomplish the four division titles on Japanese soil.”

The 28-year-old Palicte, who was the No. 1 contender, fell to 25-2-1 (21 KOs) in his pro career.

There have been six Japanese boxers, including Ioka, who have captured world titles in three different weight divisions.

Ioka fought against the Philippines’ Donnie Nietes in Macau last December looking to become a four-division king but fell short in a decision.

Ioka, a Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, native, returned from a brief retirement last year.

Earlier in the evening, WBA light flyweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi successfully defended his belt for the first time with a win over Thailand’s Tanawat Nakoon via unanimous decision (117-112, 117-111, 117-111).

Kyoguchi was aggressive offensively from the opening bell and landed many heavy body shots and an occasional right. But he was not able to knock out the tough southpaw (11-1, five KOs).

“I feel sorry for showing such a boring match,” Kyoguchi told the fans. “Regardless of how tough he was, it was my plan to completely outperform him. It was a poorer performance by me than the judgments showed.”

The 25-year-old Kyoguchi (13-0, nine KOs) has said he wants to have a unification world title fight, potentially against fellow Japanese Ken Shiro, who holds the WBC crown in the same weight class.

In the WBO female super flyweight world title bout, Miyo Yoshida outclassed the United States’ Casey Morton to capture the vacant championship.

“I’ve done martial arts for 11 years,” said the 31-year-old (13-1), who has previously practiced mixed martial arts and kickboxing. “And I’ve competed against so many different fighters but now I’ve been able to become a world champion because of the help from my supporters.”

Morton’s pro record is now at 8-2 (one KO).

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