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Kazuto Ioka retains WBO title with competitive decision over Ryoji Fukunaga

Fukunaga stepped in for Jerwin Ancajas on just over two weeks’ notice

BOX-WBO-JPN-PUR Photo by BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP via Getty Images

He had to work for it, but WBO super flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka kept his dreams of unification alive this morning with a unanimous decision over late replacement Ryoji Fukunaga.

Ioka (28-2, 15 KO) was initially slated to meet IBF titlist Jerwin Ancajas, who was forced out earlier this month due to Japan’s tightened travel restrictions. Fukunaga (15-5, 14 KO) stepped up on just over two weeks’ notice and, by all accounts, landed a good number of eye-catching shots and gave the champion a decent test despite struggling with Ioka’s vaunted body attack. The fight’s up on YouTube in a few places for those looking to make their own judgements.

The marks two consecutive underwhelming performances for Ioka since torching Kosei Tanaka last year, as he previously had more trouble than expected with Francisco Rodriguez Jr. in September.

Per Jake Donovan, “plans are in place” to stage Ioka-Ancajas early next summer if “Pretty Boy” gets past Fernando Daniel Martinez in February. Fingers crossed that whoever wins that will go on to face whoever emerges from the Estrada-Chocolatito-Srisaket-Cuadras scrum with the other two belts.