One of the modern Japanese greats has decided to hang up the gloves. Three-weight champion Kazuto Ioka, who abdicated his belt last year, officially announced his retirement yesterday at the age of 28.
It’s certainly a surprising decision, though not unprecedented. Ioka’s countryman, Hozumi Hasegawa, retired in December of 2016 just after upsetting Hugo Ruiz for the WBC super bantamweight title. Ioka has also had public issues with his father Kazunori Ioka, who served as his manager.
Ioka (22-1, 13 KO) unified the WBA and WBC minimumweight titles in his tenth pro fight with a decision over Akira Yaegashi. He proceeded to win the WBA light flyweight title one fight later and, though he fell short against Amnat Ruenrong in his first flyweight title bid, ultimately took home a belt by beating Juan Carlos Reveco in 2015.
He ends his flyweight reign with five successful defenses.
While I will always support fighters getting out while the getting’s good, I sincerely hope that Ioka made this decision for the right reasons. If not, I hope to see him back in the ring.