Kazuto Ioka vs Kosei Tanaka Preview Dec. 31st
WBO Super Flyweight Champion Kazuto Ioka of Japan will be defending the belt for the second time when he takes on fellow countryman Kosei Tanaka in Tokyo this New Year’s Eve. The 12-round bout can be seen live in Japan on TBS while fans in the UK can catch the action on BoxNation and Premier Sports at 9am. North American fans can see a Spanish-language broadcast on ESPN Knockout at 4am EST. Both boxers were last in action exactly a year ago when Ioka beat Jeyvier Cintron by unanimous decision on Dec. 31st and Tanaka stopped Wulan Tuolehazi in the third round. The unbeaten Tanaka is the WBO Flyweight Champion and has defended that title three times.
Ioka vs Tanaka Betting Odds
- Kazuto Ioka +145
- Kosei Tanaka -175
The 31-year-old Ioka of Osaka carries a record of 25-2 with 14 Ko’s. He dropped a split decision to Donnie Nietes on New Year’s Eve in 2018 in his first shot at the vacant WBO Super Flyweight Title and also lost a split decision to Amnat Ruenroeng in for the IBF Flyweight Title in 2014 for his two career losses. He won the vacant Japanese Light Flyweight Crown in his sixth pro fight and then won the WBC Minimumweight Belt in his next outing when he stopped Kittipong Jaigrajang in the fifth round.
Ioka won the vacant WBO Super Flyweight Title with a 10th-round stoppage of Aston Palicte of the Philippines in June, 2019. This gave him a world title in four different weight classes at minimumweight, light flyweight, flyweight and super flyweight. This will be his second defence of the Super Flyweight Belt.
Ioka defended the Japanese Flyweight Belt three times and added the WBA Minimumweight Title in his third defense with a unanimous decision over Akira Yaegashi. He then took the WBA Light Flyweight Crown on New Year’s Eve 2012 by stopping Jose Rodriguez in the sixth round. He defended it nine times including wins over Juan Carlos Reveco (twice), Roberto Domingo Sosa, Keyvin Lara and Nare Yianleang. Ioka moved up to super flyweight in September, 2018 and captured the WBC Silver Title with a 10-round unanimous decision over McWilliams Arroyo.
Ioka stands just over 5-feet-4-inches tall with a 65.5-inch reach and is one of Japan’s top boxers. However, he’s not as well known outside of Asia as fellow countrymen such as Ryota Murata and Naoya Inoue. He’s boxed 244 rounds since turning pro in 2009 and isn’t really a power puncher with a current knockout ratio of 52 per cent. Ioka also owns a solid chin and is a world class boxer on all levels.
Tanaka is just 25 years old and is trying to join Ioka at winning a world title in four weight divisions. He captured the WBO Flyweight Title by majority decision against Sho Kimura in September, 2018 in my pick as 2018’s fight of the year. He defended the crown six months later by unanimous decision against fellow countryman Ryoichi Taguchi then retained it against Jonathan Gonzalez by seventh-round stoppage in August, 2019 before stopping Tuolehazi the last time out.
Tanaka has fought just 15 times as a pro and owns a perfect record of 15-0 with 9 Ko’s. In fact, he and Vasyl Lomachenko share the world record for the fewest fights (12) to become three-weight world champions as he’s also owned the WBO Minimumweight and Light Flyweight Crowns. Tanaka is well known for his volume punching and aggression and is an extremely exciting boxer to watch. He turned pro in 2013 after a fine amateur career and has boxed 118 rounds since.
He won the vacant Minimumweight Title in 2015 with a unanimous decision over Julian Yedras and defended it once. He stopped Moises Fuentes in the fifth round a year later to capture the vacant Light Flyweight Title and defended it against Angel Acosta and Rangsan Chayanram and added his third title against Kimura. Tanaka stands just over 5-feet-4-inches tall and has a wingspan of 64.5 inches. He’s the same height as Ioka and gives up just an inch in reach.
Tanaka, who hails from Tajimi, also has a solid chin has a bit more power than Ioka with a current knockout ratio of 60 per cent. However, he typically overwhelms his opponents with his non-stop punching. If Tanaka is successful, he’ll become the fastest four-division champion in boxing history in just his 16th fight. Oscar De La Hoya currently holds the record at 24 fights.
This has the potential to be one of the fights of the year as Ioka has supreme boxing skills and Tanaka likes to throw punches in bunches. Both have great chins but Tanaka’s sometimes thrown caution to the wind and engages in slugfests, much like he did against Sho Kimura two years ago. This could be tough to call but I like Tanaka’s natural aggression in the ring as he doesn’t mind taking a shot to land one of his own. He needs to continue throwing as many punches as possible as he could get outboxed if he tries to engage in a chess match. I’m leaning towards Tanaka taking Ioka’s title on Thursday to make boxing history.
Tanaka’s aggressive style should be the difference.
Play: Tanaka -175 @ BetOnline.ag
Check out my recent boxing betting picks to see my current form.