Japan’s Kazuto Ioka successfully defended his WBO Super Flyers Championship for the third time on Wednesday, winning a unanimous decision that went all 12 rounds against second-placed Mexican contender Francisco Rodriguez.
In a closed-door fight at the Ota City General Gymnasium in Tokyo, the two fighters fought in a bloody brawl that could have gone either way until the final rounds.
Ioka, 32, improved to 27-2. His 18 victories in the fight for the title of world champion are the most won by a Japanese fighter. Still, he said Rodriguez’s intensity caught him off guard.
“I had a clear idea of how he would fight and I was well prepared, but it is clear that he came all this way in a foreign country determined to win a championship. It showed, and he m ‘got a bit of a back foot, ”Ioka said.
“The crowd at the arena usually gives me energy, so I was a little anxious tonight.”
Rodriguez, 29, fell to 34-5 with a draw. He was in the second world title fight of his career.
In January, the Japan Boxing Commission issued a stern warning to Ioka about his tattoos, which were visible during his New Year’s Eve title fight against compatriot Kosei Tanaka.
This time, too, the champion’s body art, heavily masked at the start of the fight, became visible on his left arm, abdomen and chest as the coating rubbed off.
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Kazuto Ioka, Francisco Rodriguez