Japan’s tradition of stacked New Year’s Eve cards looks poised to continue this year, and the first major bout to be revealed is WBO super flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka’s mandatory defense against Puerto Rico’s Jeyvier Cintron. Asian Boxing says to “expect” two additional notable bouts on the show, while The Ring’s Anson Wainwright, who broke the initial news, defied his swear of silence to suggest that one of them will be a unification.
Based on it being a Tokyo Broadcast Station event, as Asian Boxing mentions, I’m guessing Kosei Tanaka versus Moruti Mthalane, which both fighters have said they want.
Ioka (24-2, 14 KO) unexpectedly retired at the start of last year, only to return eight months later and defeat McWilliams Arroyo in his super flyweight debut. A controversial decision loss to Donnie Nietes last NYE stymied his attempt to become Japan’s first male four-weight champion, but he achieved his goal with a stoppage of Aston Palicte in June.
Cintron (11-0, 5 KO) had a rather unconventional route to a title shot. After a May fight with Koki Eto ended via headbutt-induced No Contest, the two were rebooked for August and the rematch named a WBO final eliminator. He went on to win a comfortable decision, earning what’s almost certainly a premature shot at the big time.
We’ll keep you all posted as the festivities come together.