Kazuto Ioka, who began his career as a light flyweight, made a successful return to the division on New Year's Eve when he won the vacant regular WBA light flyweight title by stopping a game but overmatched Jose Alfredo Rodriguez inside 6 rounds. Rodriguez was dropped once in the 1st round and twice more in the 6th. The battle took place at the Bodymaker Colosseum in Osaka, Japan.
Although down in round 1 by a right uppercut followed by a left hook to the body and head, Rodriguez got up, dusted himself off and got back into the fight. He was usually a step too slow and limited with his arsenal, but Rodriguez applied pressure and let his hands go. Consequently Ioka, who was equally limited with his head movement, got hit. I honestly thought Rodriguez did quite well in rounds 2, 3, and 4 whether he deserved to win them or not. At the tail end of the 4th round business appeared to pick up and Ioka looked ready to kick into the next gear. And that's exactly what he did in round 5. Ioka's speed, power, and combinations dealt Rodriguez a beating.
Still, Rodriguez took the punches well up until the 6th round. Ioka's blistering right hands and left hooks had Rodriguez hurt inside the first minute of round 6 and straight right hands put him down twice in the last 30 seconds. The referee immediately waved the fight off after the 6th round's 2nd knockdown. It will officially go down as a TKO victory but I'm fairly positive Rodriguez had no chance of beating the count in less than 10 seconds.
In any event, Ioka is now a 2 division "world" champion with only 11 pro fights to his name. In his previous bout Ioka unified the WBA and WBC strawweight titles in a fight of the year candidate against Akira Yaegashi that went down to the wire. Rodriguez was a significant step down from Yaegashi, but it's not like Ioka picks who the WBA appoints as worthy of vacant title honors. I might add that the title was vacant because the WBA opted to promote Roman Gonzalez to the status of super champion following his fight of the year candidate with Juan Francisco Estrada. Per WBA "rules" (more like guidelines) Ioka must now face Gonzalez within 90 days. In a recent interview with FightNews, Gonzalez had the following to say about Ioka-Rodriguez:
I am hoping that Ioka winds up winning the fight. On many occasions he has called me out in public saying that he wants to fight me. The funny thing is that even though they know my promoter Mr. Akhiko Honda of Teiken very well, he has never received a phone call from his team inquiring about a possible show down. I have fought in Japan many times. The people there are super polite and very well educated. I consider Japan my second home and would love to have the opportunity to fight there again.
Ryo Miyazaki SD12 Pornsawan Porpramook [vacant WBA minimumweight title]
Solomon Haumono TKO5 Kyotaro Fujimoto [vacant OPBF heavyweight title]