Kazuto Ioka vs Ryoji Fukunaga Preview Dec. 31st, 2021
WBO Super Flyweight Champion Kazuto Ioka will be defending the belt for the fourth time when he takes on fellow countryman Ryoji Fukunaga this New Year’s Eve. The 12-round bout from the Ota City Gymnasium in Tokyo can be seen live in Japan on TBS. Ioka last fought in September when he beat Francisco Rodriguez Jr by unanimous decision. Fukunaga was last in action in October when he edged Hayate Kaji by a 10-round majority decision.
Ioka vs Fukunaga Betting Odds
- Ryoji Fukunaga +500
- Kazuto Ioka -700
The 32-year-old Ioka of Osaka carries a record of 27-2 with 15 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 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 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. He defended the Super Flyweight Title against Jeyvier Cintron by unanimous decision on New Year’s Eve 2019 and stopped fellow countryman Kosei Tanaka in the eighth round last New Year’s Eve before beating Rodriguez earlier this year.
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 264 rounds since turning pro in 2009 and isn’t really a power puncher with a current knockout ratio of 51.7 per cent. Ioka also owns a solid chin and is a world class boxer on all levels.
Fukunaga is a 35-year-old southpaw who climbs into the ring with a mark of 15-4 with 14 Kos and also hails from Osaka. He’s 5-feet-6-inches tall with an unlisted reach which gives him a 1.5-inch edge in height on Ioka. Fukunaga made his pro debut in 2013 and has fought just 89 rounds since, mainly due to his impressive knockout ratio which currently stands at 73.4 per cent.
Fukunaga lost his pro debut by four-round majority decision and was then stopped in the first round in his sixth outing by Ryo Matsubara for his only stoppage defeat. He also dropped an eight-round split decision to Yuta Matsuo in April, 2018 and lost a 10-round unanimous decision to Jakkrawut Majoogoen in his next fight two months later in a shot at the OPBF Silver Super Flyweight Title.
In February, 2020 Fukunaga stopped Froilan Saludar in the seventh round to capture the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight Title and in his next bout 10 months later he defended that belt and added the vacant OPBF and the Japanese Super Flyweight Crowns by stopping Kenta Nakagawa in the 10th round. He’s defended those titles twice more since then.
Fukunaga is a late replacement for IBF titleholder Jerwin Ancajas as this was supposed to be a unification bout. However, foreign travellers aren’t allowed into Japan at the moment due to the ongoing coronavirus problem. This will be Ioka’s 10th career New Year’s Eve fight after beginning the tradition in 2011. He’s 8-1 on the date so far with his defeat being a split decision to Donnie Nietes in 2018. Ioka is the only male Japanese boxer to win titles in four or more weight divisions. This has the potential to be another classic domestic fight in Japan due to Ioka’s supreme boxing skills and Fukunaga’s power. Both have fine chins but I’m leaning Ioka retaining his title on Friday.
Ioka’s boxing skills should be the difference.
Play: Ioka -700 @ BetOnline.ag
Check out my recent boxing betting picks to see my current form.