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Monday. July 4. 2022

World champ Ioka brimming with confidence in July 13 title defense against ex-champ Nietes

World Boxing Organization super flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka of Shisei Boxing Gym said on July 4 he is determined to beat clearly top-ranked challenger Donnie Nietes of the Philippines for his fifth defense of the title on July 13 in Tokyo.

Showing his workout at the gym online, the 33-year-old Ioka said, ‘’Ever since I dropped a split decision to Nietes three years and seven months ago (in Macao), I have reviewed my boxing from the ground up and have made it this far as I captured my fourth division title accompanied by my successful title defenses. I have a confidence in myself, including my upcoming title defense against Niets.’’

Ioka lost to the 40-year-old Nietes on Dec. 31 of 2018 for the then vacant WBO super flyweight title. But Nietes relinquished the title without defending it and had an absence of about two years and three months before returning to the ring (for contractual problems).

To prepare for the coming fight, Ioka has so far done more than 100 rounds of sparring mainly with his stablemate and hard-hitting former World Boxing Council flyweight champion Daigo Higa.

‘’I am satisfied with the sparring sessions as I am in good condition. I know it’s not an easy matter. But I hope I can knock him out. If not, I hope to beat him with a lopsided decision,’’ Ioka added.

The upcoming fight will be Ioka’s 22nd world championship fight, the most for any Japanese boxer in history. His long-standing personal trainer Ismael Salas of Cuba will arrive in Japan in three days. The scheduled 12-rounder, which will be held at the Ota City General Gymnasium, will televised live on the Tokyo Broadcasting System Television from 9 p.m.

Ioka has a record of 28 wins, including 15 KOs, against two losses. For his part, Nietes, who also was a four-division titlist, has a 43-1-6 win-loss-draw record with 23 KOs.