By Joe Koizumi
Photo: Sumio Yamada/WBC
Unbeaten 21-year-old Japanese prospect Kazuto Ioka (7-0, 5 KOs), 105, very impressively captured the WBC strawweight belt as he landed a beautiful left to the belly and flattened previously undefeated defending champ Oleydong Sithsamarchai (39-1-1, 14 KOs), 104.5, to prompt the referee’s intervention at 1:07 of the fifth round on Friday in Kobe, Japan.
Ioka took the leadoff from the outset and floored the southpaw champ with a short left hook midway in round two. Despite the 25-year-old champ’s retreating and countering strategy, Ioka accelerated his attack and seemingly controlled the fight, sometimes showboating in the third. The Japanese challenger maintained his pressure and scored with a double right to the elusive southpaw champ with precision in the fourth.
After the fourth, the WBC open scoring system indicated that Ioka was leading on two judges’ tallies 38-37 and 40-35, while another then favored the counterpunching champ with a 38-37 score.
The fifth witnessed Ioka block the champ’s overhand left with the glove and dig a vicious left uppercut to the midsection, dropping the champ in agony. The referee Bruce McTavish realized he would be able to count more than one hundred, so he promptly declared a stoppage in favor of the jubilant winner. (More to come)