Ioka Makes Flyweight Deeper

By Matt McGrain on March 1, 2014
Ioka Makes Flyweight Deeper
Ioka boxes like a veteran despite the pitiful number of rounds he has under his belt.

Kazuto Ioka today announced that he would be revoking his alphabet strap and moving from light-flyweight up to the uber-stacked 112-lb. division in pursuit of honors at a third weight—all before he has even fought his fifteenth contest.

Inexperience has been no barrier to success so far with both veterans and fresh-faced peers being curbed in a telling mix of stoppages and clear decisions. But is flyweight a step too far?

Certainly it is not a cause for panic. Ioka boxes like a veteran despite the pitiful number of rounds he has under his belt and nobody has so far come close to slowing him down, including legitimate flyweight King Akira Yaegashi who was beaten by the superb twenty-four-year old at 105 lbs. in summer of 2012. It is likely that Yaegashi will be deaf to any talk of a rematch and to be fair, there will be limited pressure upon him to take one. The reason is likely to be keeping the Champion awake at night rather than comforting him, however. Flyweight is easily the deepest division in boxing and to be frank, Ioka can be made to wait.

The mercurial Juan Francisco Estrada is the #1 contender and is the conqueror of #2 contender Brian Viloria. Viloria has himself mown down a murderer’s row of flyweights, including Hernan Marquez (#9), Omar Romero and the timeless Giovani Segura (#5). Recent addition and world-class former minimum and light-flyweight Roman Gonzalez (#7)has followed a similar trajectory to Ioka, albeit over a longer spell and is himself in hot pursuit of a number of the division’s top men. Edgar Sosa, former champion Toshiyuki Igarashi and even a resurgent Luis Concepcion are all more deserving of the big shot than new man Ioka who may have to wade through some rather serious competition before he can summit in a division which probably has more legitimately world-class fighters than any other two combined.

A shortcut is a possibility, however. Ioka has promotional clout and Yaegashi’s people have done business with him before.

Either way, Ioka’s arrival in boxing’s best division is beginning to hint at a new golden age, arguably the first since the heavyweight division of the late 1990s. In order that it can be named as such these men need to fight each other, of course, and there’s many a slip between a cup and a lip. Having said that, the smaller divisions do tend to deliver more top fights, because there is less money pooled at the top, and whilst Joe Public will happily pay to watch a world-class heavyweight in action against someone without his class, they are less keen to spoon over their hard-earned to watch a 112-lb. journeyman being painfully outclassed.

Ioka strikes me as a man who likes a challenge. He’s got one, and although he was expected to wait a few years before launching himself at the flyweights his arrival is a welcome one. So good is the division that Ioka almost cannot fail to deliver us a legitimately great fight and there are a few in there who will test him to his utmost—and at least one that I would make a favorite to beat him.

Watch this space.

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  1. Ted 12:34pm, 03/02/2014

    Have to disagree here a bit.

    Ioka has a great boxing blood line and a great amateur career. He is like a Japanese version of Lomachenko, Roman Gonzalez is the opponent everyone wants to see him fight. In Japan, Ioka calls the shots and can pick and choose and earn while the other guys wait.

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