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Kazuto Ioka, Kosei Tanaka retain titles in Tokyo

Japan finishes its year-end events 4-1 in men’s title fights

Kazuto Ioka v Aston Palicte - WBO Super Flyweight Title Bout Photo by Toru Hanai/Getty Images
Patrick Stumberg is a freelance writer for SB Nation, first joining the network in 2011 before linking up with Bad Left Hook in 2015.

Japanese standouts Kazuto Ioka and Kosei Tanaka successfully defended their respective titles in Tokyo’s Ota-City General Gymnasium this morning, capping off the country’s traditional New Year’s Eve deluge of boxing.

Ioka (25-2, 14 KO), who became Japan’s first-ever male four-division champion this past June with his knockout of Aston Palicte, had to turn aside a spirited effort from mandatory challenger Jeyvier Cintron (11-1, 5 KO). The 24-year-old Puerto Rican used his significant advantages in height and reach to great effect in the early going, but was unable to maintain the momentum once Ioka’s ferocious body attack got going. Ioka ultimately walked away with a unanimous decision on scores of 116-112 (twice) and 115-113.

Still just 30 years old, Ioka’s only pro losses came by competitive split decision to Amnat Ruenroeng and Donnie Nietes, He absolutely deserves mention among the best super flyweights in the world.

Flyweight king Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9 KO) had considerably less difficulty with Wulan Tuolehazi (13-4-1, 6 KO). The 24-year-old put his man away in the third round with a double left uppercut to cap off what was reportedly a dominant performance. The win was his third of 2019, following up on his gritty decision over Ryoichi Taguchi and stoppage of Jonathan Gonzalez.

In other results, Miyo Yoshida (14-1, 0 KO) retained her WBO super flyweight title with a decision over Li Ping Shi (5-3, 2 KO) and promising minimumweight prospect Ginjiro Shigeoka (5-0, 4 KO) knocked out former title challenger Rey Loreto (25-15, 17 KO) in five.

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