By Joe Koizumi
Photos: Sumio Yamada
WBA flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (21-1, 13 KOs), 112, successfully kept his belt by a fine TKO victory over unbeaten interim titlist Stamp Kiatniwat (15-1, 6 KOs), 112, Thailand, at 2:51 of the seventh session on Saturday in Kyoto, Japan. Ioka, a defense master, surprisingly hit the deck with Stamp’s countering right hook in the second round, but it was only a round he lost, and finally caught the Thailander to drop him twice en route to an impressive stoppage.
The 18-year-old Thailander was a much better and stronger contestant than expected, and his power punching was reminiscent of his senior Khaosai Galaxy—both handled by the same manager Niwat Laosuwanwat of Galaxy Promotions.
Ioka, 27, the most skillful boxer in Japan, fully displayed his precision-punching to the aggressive opponent, landing sharp jabs and accurate combinations to the face and the body. From the start Ioka’s quick jab was a nuisance for Stamp to come close to the champ and land his solid right cross. Ioka, as usual, kept his proper distance, jabbing and connecting with combinations with precision.
Ioka, making his fourth defense, found a weakness in the midsection of Stamp and began to dig his belly with persistent body punches that apparently had the interim champ slowing down. Stamp, in round six, came out fighting toe-to-toe, but Ioka covered himself up and utilized his minimum footwork to avert almost all attacks and counter to the pinpoints (chin, jaw, button, temple, solar plexus, liver, etc.) very accurately.
It was in round seven that Ioka turned loose and accelerated his attack exclusively to the midsection. The Japanese champ landed a vicious left uppercut to the side of the belly, which had the Thai challenger fall over forward. Stamp gamely beat the count and resumed fighting on. Ioka quickly swarmed over him with a fusillade of punches with very good precision and finally dropped him with a right uppercut to the center of the body, the same punch Ioka had sunk his grudge rival Juan Carlos Reveco just a year ago. The referee Rafael Ramos, US, quickly called a halt as he saw Stamp vomiting with the body shot.
Prior to the stoppage, the official tallies were as follows: Levi Martinez and Sergio Caiz (both US) both 58-55, Reina Urbaez (Venezuela) 57-56, all in favor of the defending champ.
We appreciate Ioka’s fine display of economical boxing that he showed high efficiency in hurting his foe with his very accurate attacks. Among currently active boxers, in this reporter’s opinion, the highest “economical” champs, are as follows: Guillermo Rigondeaux, Vasyl Lomachenko and Ioka. In this regard, Ioka is still improving his skills in every fight.
The victorious Ioka said, “When I was down, I thought if take one, give him two. I dedicate this victory to my most important person as well as my fans.” It means his fiancée Nana Tanimura, a famous singer, with whose song Ioka walked and climbed up to the ring.
His father and trainer/promoter Kazunori Ioka, the elder brother of two-time world champ Hiroki, said, “Our 2017 target is to have Kazuto face another world champion such as WBO titleholder Shiming Zou for unification. We may go and fight abroad in China.”
On the undercard, Kyoto’s hard-punching prospect Shohei Omori, a southpaw bantam, scored a quick knockout of former OPBF champ Rocky Fuentes at 2:30 of the third round in a scheduled eight. Originally scheduled to face IBF titlist Lee Haskins, UK, in the main event on this card, the champ’s leg injury cancelled his title crack and faced a substitute on a short notice. Omori improved his mark to 18-1, 13 KOs with his sole defeat inflicted by Marlon Tapales, the current WBO bantam ruler, a year ago.
Also, highly world rated, unbeaten super-flyweight Sho Ishida easily finished Thailander Petchnamnung Srisaketpattana at 2:42 of the second round in a scheduled eight. The 5’8” lanky 115-pounder Ishida is now 23-0, 12 KOs.
Promoter: Ioka Promotions in association with Woz Promotions in Kyoto.