Donnie Nietes is a four-weight world champion at 36 years old, defeating fellow standout Kazuto Ioka in an entertaining battle tainted by bizarre judging.
Ioka (23-2, 13 KO), seven years younger than Nietes (42-1-5, 23 KO), appeared to take control in the latter half of what was a competitive, fast-paced, close-quarters battle. Despite this, the judges turned in a panoply of scorecards, a 116-112 for Ioka overruled by a 116-112 and an inexcusable 118-110 from veteran judge Levi Martinez.
Boxing Twitter seems fairly unanimous in its belief that Ioka earned the victory. Nietes deserved to be a champion after settling for a draw against Aston Palicte earlier this year, but this is a karmic misfire if I’ve ever seen one.
Former minimumweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi conquered his second weight class earlier in the evening, forcing WBA “super” light flyweight champion Hekkie Budler’s corner to stop it after 10 rounds. Kyoguchi (12-0, 9 KO), making his second appearance at 108 pounds, used a consistent body attack to break Budler (32-4, 10 KO) down and ultimately prompt the South African’s team to call a halt.
Some highlights from The Ring’s Ryan Songalia to go with Nick Skok’s recap:
Fight highlights for Hiroto Kyoguchi TKO10 Hekkie Budler. Kyoguchi is the new Ring magazine/WBA junior flyweight champ pic.twitter.com/MBBajnIWex— Ryan Songalia (@ryansongalia) December 31, 2018
The title tripleheader opened with IBF flyweight champ Moruti Mthalane dominating Japanese challenger Masahiro Sakamoto. Mthalane’s (37-2, 25 KO) combination punching was too much for the inexperienced Sakamoto (13-2, 9 KO), and a badly swollen right eye ended things after the 10th round. Songalia’s Twitter timeline includes an abundance of gifs.