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Kazuto Ioka defends super flyweight title in style

Kyodo

Kazuto Ioka delivered a master class in his successful WBO super flyweight title defense on Tuesday, while compatriot Kosei Tanaka retained his WBO flyweight title by knockout.

Ioka made light of Jeyvier Cintron’s 12-cm reach advantage to move in and batter his opponent’s body from point-blank range in a unanimous decision at Tokyo’s Ota City General Gymnasium.

The 24-year-old Cintron had the best of the early rounds, but eventually had no answer for the wily 30-year-old Ioka, who came determined to teach the youngster a lesson.

“I had hoped to demonstrate how strong a champion can be and how hard a world title fight can be,” said Ioka, who seized the then vacant crown in June by knocking out Aston Palicte of the Philippines.

“There was some pressure, because this was my first fight since my son was born,” he added.

Cintron, the top-ranked contender, tried his best to keep Ioka at a distance but the Japanese was able to duck too many wild punches from the southpaw before stepping in and landing combinations. For most of the fight, Ioka tried to corner his Puerto Rican opponent or pin him against the ropes, but time after time Cintron was able to slip away.

As the fight wore on, Cintron’s legs lost their spring and he was unable to get away from Ioka, who cruised to the final bell in complete command.

Ioka’s record improved to 25-2, with 14 wins by knockout. The loss was Cintron’s first in 12 pro fights.

Earlier, the 24-year-old Tanaka knocked out 26-year-old Wulan Tuolehazi in the third round of their one-sided bout. It was Tanaka’s third title defense of the crown he won in September 2018.

“I was able to land that uppercut after a feint to the body,” Tanaka said after leaving his Chinese opponent laid out on the canvas.

Also on the undercard, Japan’s Miyo Yoshida defeated China’s Li Ping Shi by unanimous decision in the first defense of her WBO women’s super flyweight crown. The 31-year-old Yoshida improved to 14-1, while the 21-year-old Li saw her record fall to 5-3.

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