You can definitely be forgiven for not knowing the name Kazuto Ioka. Ioka, at 29 years old, has technically been a world champion for some time now, dating back to April of 2015 when he won the WBA flyweight title via majority-decision over Juan Carlos Reveco.
Ioka followed up that victory with five successful defenses, all in his birthplace of Osaka, Japan. But when he was lined up with a fight against surging contender McWilliams Arroyo last month, he was relatively unknown heading into the HBO date. Ioka vs. Arroyo took place on HBO, on September 8, from the Forum in Inglewood, California.
And it was definitely Ioka’s night. Arroyo was riding a wave of success after having upset former champion Carlos Cuadras in his previous fight. But Ioka was able to beat him via unanimous decision over ten rounds. What’s notable about the fight is that Ioka rose in weight for the match, to 115 pounds, also known as the super flyweight division.
Throughout the fight week, I noticed that Ioka was joined in his corner by Ismael Salas, the trainer for Cuba who has worked with world class fighters such as Rances Barthelemy, Jorge Linares, David Haye, Yordenis Ugas, and Joe Joyce, and several others.
Judges scored the bout 99-90 on one card and 97-92 on two scorecards as Ioka picked up the WBC silver super flyweight champion with his victory. And Salas couldn’t;’t have been any happier, as he was elated in the victory of his fighter. Both men should be proud of this night Ioka fought a very disciplined matchup, even scoring a knockdown in the third round that really set the tempo of the fight. The right hand was very crisp and Arroyo went down hard.
Other moments of the fight showed Ioka controlling the action with a very strong jab. Salas took to his Instagram and posted two different photos of himself with Ioka, one of them being a picture from February of 2011, and the other from seven years later, after the Arroyo win, while also noting his fighter as a “four division world champion”.
Ioka now has a record of 23-1 with 13 knockouts, his only loss being vs. Amnat Ruenroeng by split decision in May of 2014. That fight was for the IBF flyweight title and stands as the only defeat of Ioka to this day. Ioka has also head the WBC world minimum-weight world title, the WBA world minimum-weight title, the WBA light flyweight title, as well as the WBA flyweight title that we mentioned.
What now for Ioka? Perhaps a clash with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai would make for great action. Sor Rungvisai has drifted away from the Superfly shows, however, as his last fight took place this past weekend at ONE Fighting Championship in Bangkok, Thailand.
Regardless of what happens from here, the super flyweight division has a new player who is strong, focused, determined, and very calculated in the ring. 115 pounds continues to be a hot division, and Ioka fits right in.