One of boxing’s best fighters, but a guy unknown to most American fight fans, is going for a world title in a third weight division in just his 15th pro fight.
Even in this era of watered-down titles, that is still pretty impressive if he pulls it off.
Japan’s 25-year-old Kazuto Ioka (14-0, nine KOs) is a superb fighter, even though you’ve probably never seen, or even heard of, him. But he has already claimed titles in two weight classes and unified titles in one division.
In 2011, in just his seventh fight, Ioka knocked out longtime strawweight titlist Oleydong Sithsamerchai of Thailand in the fifth round to win a world title.
In his 10th fight, Ioka unified two of the strawweight belts with a unanimous decision against countryman Akira Yaegashi in 2012, who in his previous bout had knocked out Pornsawan Porpramook in the 10th round of the incredible 2011 fight of the year.
Later in 2012, Ioka moved up to junior flyweight and knocked out Jose Alfredo Rodriguez of Mexico to win a vacant belt, which Ioka would go on to defend three times.
Now, Ioka is moving up to flyweight and will challenge Thailand’s Amnat Ruenroeng (12-0, five KOs) in Osaka, Japan, on May 7.
Although Amnat, 34, is making his first defense and not regarded as an elite flyweight, he does own an amateur victory against Ioka, which makes the match somewhat interesting.
Not only is Ioka a very good fighter, he is also highly entertaining. Do yourself a favor and look for some of his fights on YouTube.