July 20, 2016
WBA flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (20-1, 12 KOs), 112, impressively retained his belt when he had a tough time with young Nicaraguan Keyvin Lara (18-2-1, 6 KO), 112, in earlier rounds but took back the initiative and finally dropped him twice en route to a fine knockout at 1:11 of the eleventh round on Wednesday in Osaka, Japan.
Despite an eventual triumph of the defending champ Ioka, it wasnft an easy defense at all since Lara, still 21, was a much better challenger than people expected and called it a mismatch. Lara, a non-stop puncher from the start, was apparently leading on points after the fourth: Glen Feldman (US) 40-36, Jan Christensen (Denmark) 39-37, both for the Nicaraguan youngster, and only Pinit Prayadsab (Thailand) 39-37 for Ioka.
gIoka may lose tonight as Lara is going to win this game,h some ringsiders were worried about the outcome. From the fifth on, however, Ioka changed his strategy into battering Larafs side of the midsection and following with combos to the face even though Lara kept punching incessantly. Ioka looked more effective with body shots and counters to the face to the game and gallant challenger who still kept punching but whose precision was declining with Iokafs good reflexes.
Ioka swept all rounds from the fifth on all the judgesf tallies, and finally caught up with the still aggressive Nicaraguan in the tenth, when the champ connected with a solid right counter and followed up with accurate combos, dropping Lara to the deck. When the Nicaraguan barely raised himself and resumed fighting, the bell fortunately sounded for his rescue.
The fatal eleventh watched Ioka accelerate his accurate attack and put him prone to the canvas. Lara tried to beat the count but his damage was such that the ref Eddie Claudio (US) tolled the fatal ten over the damaged loser. The unsuccessful challenger Lara is worth watching due to his well-educated fundamental and good balance, plus good heart in the future.
Ioka, 27 and three-class world champ, had been ordered by the WBA prior to this third defense that he would be obliged to meet WBA super champ Juan Francisco Estrada in his next defense. It will be a very interesting confrontation of the excellent boxer-punchers with speed, skills and power.
The winner said, gI wished to keep my distance in the beginning of the bout, but Lara came out fighting to have me retreating in early rounds. I then changed my fight plan to hurt him with body shots and counter with short combinations. It paid off well.h
The crestfallen loser repented of his defeat, saying, gIoka is a great champion. I did my best, but Ioka penetrated my guard with sharp punches. Ifll come back.h
As usual, Iokafs face was neither damaged nor bruised at all?probably because of his fine reflexes?though he seemingly absorbed more punches than previously. Probably Iokafs face might be covered with his especially soft skin.
The tallies before the trick finally happened in the eleventh: Prayadsab 99-90, Feldman 96-93 and Christensen 97-92, all for Ioka.
Promoter: Ioka Promotions.
WBA supervisor: Aurelio Fiengo (Panama).
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