New Years’ Eve sees a treat for fans as the Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan, hosts a night of championship action.
The WBO Super Flyweight title is on the line in the main event, as the champion, and four-weight world champion, Kazuto Ioka (25-2, KO14) defends for the second time against his countryman and three-weight world champion, Kosei Tanaka (15-0, KO9).
31-year-old Ioka became a world champion in only his seventh contest, stopping Kittipong Jaigrajang in five rounds to win the WBC Strawweight title in February 2011.
He defended three times before taking the WBA Light Flyweight title at the end of 2012, stopping Jose Alfredo Rodriguez to win the vacant belt.
Another three defences followed before Ioka tasted defeat when moving up again, losing a split decision to Amnat Ruenroeng in a challenge for the IBF Flyweight title in May 2014.
He would become a three-weight world champion in April 2015, taking a majority decision win over Juan Carlos Reveco to win the WBA belt, and made five defences before another step up the weight classes.
Again he was unsuccessful at first, as Donnie Nietes took a split decision win for the vacant WBO Super Flyweight crown in December 2018. He won the vacant title six months later, stopping Acton Palicte in ten.
He has made one defence since, a New Years’ Eve 2019 points win against Jeyvier Cintron.
Kosei Tanaka will be a solid opponent for Ioka, and the 25-year-old is a multiple weight champion in his own right.
He won his first world title in just five fights, outscoring Julian Yedras for the vacant WBO Strawweight belt in May 2015.
He made one defence and then stopped Moises Fuentes to win the vacant WBO Light Flyweight title.
There were two defences of that crown, and then another belt came his way, this time the WBO Flyweight title with a majority verdict over Sho Kimura in September 2018.
Since then, he has defended three times, his last coming on New Years’ Eve last year with a third round knockout of Wulan Tuolehazi.
Prediction: Tanaka is young and fresh, but Ioka is an established champion, and will not give his belt up easily.
I think this has all the ingredients for a classic, and I lean towards Tanaka to take a razor thin win on the scorecards.
Former world Flyweight champion, Daigo Higa (16-1-1, KO16), is in action over twelve rounds, as he challenges Yuki Strong Kobayashi (16-8, KO9) for the WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight title.
Kobayashi has been stopped three times in eight defeats, while Higa has knocked out all of his opponents that he has won against.
The pick should be for Higa to force a stoppage in the first half of the fight.
Over eight rounds at Super Flyweight, Yuki Nakajima (4-1, KO4) takes on Toma Kondo (8-6, KO1) in a contest that Nakajima can win early.