Doug Fischer

Ring ratings update: Ioka in rare company, earns 105-pound ranking

Kazuto Ioka’s spectacular fifth-round stoppage of previously undefeated Oleydong Sitchsamerchai in only his seventh pro bout did more than win a major 105-pound title and break a Japanese record, it earned the former amateur standout a RING ranking.

altThe 21-year-old Osaka native, who dropped Sitchsamerchai (35-1-1, 13 KOs) in the second round before ending their Feb. 11 title bout in Kobe, Japan, with a perfect body shot, replaced the Thai veteran in the No. 2 spot of the magazine’s strawweight rankings.

Ioka (7-0, 5 knockouts), the nephew of former two-division titleholder Hiroki Ioka, won a major belt faster than any Japanese fighter. Only three fighters in history have won a world title faster than the precocious boxer-puncher, who is trained by Cuban coach Ismael Salas.

Just over a dozen pro boxers have won a major belt (WBC, WBA, IBF or WBO) before their 10th pro bout. Ironically, Ioka’s uncle is one of them. In his ninth pro bout, Hiroki Ioka annexed the same title (the WBC minimum belt) that his nephew won from Sitchsamerchai when he outpointed Mai Thomburifarm for the vacant strap in October of 1987.

Ioka lost the title to Napa Kiatwanchai via majority decision in November of 1988. Kiatwanchai, of Thailand, who had previously challenged Ioka for the title in only his seventh pro bout but was held to a draw, finally won the belt in his ninth pro bout.

Other boxers who have won a major title in nine bouts or less include:

Yoko Gushiken, of Japan, who won the WBA junior flyweight title from Juan Antonio Guzman (KO 7) in his ninth pro bout in 1976.

Davey Moore, of the USA, who won the WBA junior middleweight title from Tadashi Mihara (TKO 6) in his ninth pro bout in 1982.

Leon Spinks, of the USA, who won the heavyweight championship from Muhammad Ali (SD 15) in his eighth pro bout in 1978.

Sot Chitalada, of Thailand, who won the WBC flyweight title from Gabriel Bernal (UD 12) in his eighth pro bout in 1984.

Satoshi Shingaki, of Japan, who won the IBF bantamweight title from Elmer Magallano (TKO8) in his eighth pro bout in 1984.

Joichiro Tatsuyoshi, of Japan, who won the WBC bantamweight title from Greg Richardson (RTD 10) in his eighth pro bout in 1991.

Nobuo Nashiro, of Japan, who won the WBA super flyweight (115 pounds) title from Martin Castillo (TKO 10) in his eighth pro bout in 2006.

Jeff Fenech, of Australia, who won the IBF bantamweight title from Shingaki (TKO 9) in his seventh pro bout in 1985.

Muangchai Kittikasem, of Thailand, who won the WBC junior flyweight title from Tracy Macalos (SD 12) in his seventh pro bout in 1989.

Paul Weir, of Scotland, who won the WBO minimumweight (105 pounds) title from Fernando Martinez (TKO 7) in his sixth pro bout in 1993.

Veerapol Sahaprom, of Thailand, who won the WBA bantamweight title from Daorung Chuvatana (SD 12) in his fourth pro bout in 1995.

Saensak Muangsurin, the all-time record holder from Thailand, who won the WBC super lightweight (140 pounds) title from Perico Fernandez (TKO 8) in his third pro bout in 1975.

Nigel Collins was so impressed with Ioka’s victory over Sitchsamerchai that the Editor-in-Chief of THE RING compared the young Japanese boxer to the late Muangsurin, who was reportedly a legendary Muy Thai kick boxer before he switched to boxing.

“Ioka’s remarkable achievement is reminiscent of Saensak Muangsurin winning the WBC 140-pound title in only his third pro bout, a record that still stands today” said Collins. “Muangsurin made eight successful defenses in two reigns as WBC titleholder.”

Only time will tell if Ioka can emulate Muangsurin or his uncle, who won a second title at 108 pounds by outpointing Myung-Woo Yuh in 1991 (the only loss the Korean legend suffered in the pro ranks).

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