On what was a relatively quiet week of boxing to bring out 2019 and bring in 2020 there was just one major card, and fortunately for fight fans that card produced plenty of fireworks. The New Year’s Eve card has become an annual tradition in Japan and has continually produced high action slugfests in the smaller weight classes. This past New Years’ Eve card was no exception as WBO super flyweight champ Kazuto Ioka of Tokyo, Japan, and highly regarded unbeaten Puerto Rican prospect Jeyvier Cintron put on a 12 round classic. Ioka rallied in the late rounds to capture the unanimous decision victory, the second defense of his WBO 115-pound belt as well take home our fighter of the week award.
The Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo was home to the year’s final card. The clash between Ioka and Cintron was hotly anticipated and it certainly didn’t dissapoint. Cintron seemed to be having his way in the early rounds jabbing out of the southpaw stance and consistantly beating Ioka to the punch in the early going. The Puerto Rican was able to land and showed off his mobility circling brilliantly and staying off the ropes. However the Tokyoite was having some success going to the body, and despite. perhaps not winning the early rounds, he was winning the story of the fight as Ioka started turning the tide in the middle rounds as he began to slow the mobile Cintron down and turned the momentum of the the fight for good in the final third of the fight,digging to the body of his opponent with both hands, and causing Cintron to slow down and fire off less shots. The stength and power of the hometown champ completely wore Cintron down in the 10th and 11th and clearly put the challanger in survival mode and was looking to run out the clock. Cintron was able to surive the final bell. However, the outcome was innevatable as Ioka took the close but clear unamious decision by score of 115-113 and 116-112 twice.
Kaz Ioka put together a spectacular 2019, bouncing back nicely from his close and some what controversial lose to Donnie Nietes on 2018’s New Year Eve card. Ioka scored a very impressive come from behind stoppage over Filipino knockout artist Aston Palicte back in June and then dominated the second half of this fight to take the unanimous decision victory over Cintron. Ioka was considered one of if not the best fighter in the world in three different weight classes (Strawweight- flyweight) from 2011-2017. He can now be considered among the very best super flyweights with the two impressive victories. More importantly puts himself in great position to score a big-time, big money fight with the top names in the division such as WBC champ Juan Francisco Estrada, WBA champ Khalid Yafai as well as former champs Ramon “Chocolatito” Gonzalez and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. 115 is among the best divisions in the sport and Ioka was re-established himself as one of the elite names in the division and 2020 should be an exciting and lucrative year for Ioka and the other top super flyweights.