This Wednesday from Japan, Kazuto Ioka takes on Aston Palicte for a vacant title, the first world title boxing fight to ever air on UFC Fight Pass, where it will stream for subscribers at 8 am ET on June 19.

What’s at stake?
The vacant WBO Jr. Bantamweight title is on the line in Chiba. Both fighters have recently competed for that belt, and it was vacant in each of those fights, too. Palicte had a controversial draw with Donnie Nietes last September, and then Ioka controversially lost to Nietes on New Year’s Eve in Macau. Nietes has since vacated the title.

How did Kazuto Ioka get here?
Ioka is the nephew of Hiroki Ioka, who fought professionally from 1986-1998 and won world titles at 105 and 108, and challenged for titles at 112 and 115. Kazuto became a very good domestic amateur, but failed to qualify for the 2008 Olympics and turned pro in 2009.

Now 30, Ioka has had a decorated 10-year pro career. He won the Japanese 108-pound title in his sixth pro fight in Oct. 2010, then moved down to 105 to win the WBC title in Feb. 2011, beating Oleydong Sithsamerchai in Kobe via fifth round stoppage, dominating the fight. He made a pair of successful defenses in 2011 and then gained the WBA title in a unification win over Akira Yaegashi in June 2012, which would be Ioka’s final fight at 105 pounds.

Moving back up to 108, Ioka immediately won a WBA title on New Year’s Eve 2012, and made three successful defenses and moved up again, losing a split decision loss to IBF flyweight titleholder Amnat Ruenroeng, an old amateur rival of Ioka’s, in May 2014.

Ioka picked up a flyweight belt in 2015, though, beating Juan Carlos Reveco via majority decision in Osaka. After five defenses of the title, Ioka announced a stunning retirement at age 28 — he had gotten married and had a falling out with his father and promoter, Kazunori Ioka.

After about 16 months out of the ring, Ioka returned in Sept. 2018 as a Jr. Bantamweight, scoring a solid decision win over McWilliams Arroyo on HBO airwaves, which was Ioka’s first fight in the United States. Three months later, he lost a split decision to Donnie Nietes in Macau.

Ioka again chases a world title in a fourth weight class on Wednesday. He’ll be fighting in Japan for the first time in over two years, and will look to make a triumphant return.

How did Aston Palicte get here?
Palicte, like Ioka, was a good amateur but didn’t have significant international success. The Filipino turned pro in Aug. 2010, winning his first 10 fights before being tripped up against Romnick Magos in Dec. 2012, stopped after four rounds.

Palicte would rally, winning another 10 straight before suffering a second setback in March 2016, losing a split decision over 10 rounds to Junior Granados in Mexico. Again, he came back in winning form; two fights later, he handed Oscar Cantu his first pro loss in Palicte’s US debut in Dec. 2016.

After wins over John Mark Apolinario and Jose Alfredo Rodriguez in 2017, Palicte was matched with Donnie Nietes on HBO, with the vacant WBO Jr. Bantamweight title at stake in Sept. 2018. Nietes appeared to have comfortably won, but the judges had a split draw in California.

In January, just days after his 28th birthday, Palicte stopped Jose Martinez in the second round, and on Wednesday, he goes for the WBO belt again.

Ioka-Palicte isn’t the only vacant WBO Jr. Bantamweight title fight on this card, as the women will fight for the same belt on their side. Miyo Yoshida (12-1, 0 KO) will face Casey Morton (8-1-3, 1 KO) for the female world title.


Amanda Serrano wants her legacy to inspire the next generation of girls to take up boxing as she prepares to challenge for World title honors in a seventh weight class when she faces Eva Voraberger for the Vacant WBO Female Jr. Bantamweight title at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on Friday night, live on DAZN in the US and on Sky Sports in the UK.

Serrano (35-1-1 26KOs) has already had an immeasurable impact in women’s boxing through winning titles in six divisions on the back of an impressive amateur career, and the Puerto Rican born Brooklyn ace now believes there’s been no better time to be a female boxer.

Serrano’s clash with Voraberger (24-5 11KOs) means that every American-based event on DAZN has featured a women’s World title fight, starting in Chicago where Jessica McCaskill landed the WBC Super-Lightweight title in October, Claressa Shields putting her Super-Middleweight straps on the line in Kansas in November and Lightweight title defenses for Irish sensation Katie Taylor in Boston in October and New York in December.

With the sport in such a great place, Serrano knows that her first pro fight at Madison Square Garden has come at the perfect time and place to both make history and encourage kids to follow her fine example.

“It’ll be amazing to fight at Madison Square Garden,” said Serrano. “I won the 2008 Golden Gloves there so to go back and win a World title in my seventh division in the second home of Miguel Cotto is great, I want it to be my second home like it was for him. I think the fans will come out to support me, I can guarantee that I will do them proud and make history.

“I do want to be an inspiration to young girls in Puerto Rico and America that want to box be inspired by me pushes me to do bigger and better things in my career. I can show them that you can be a powerful Latino female in the sport and achieve any goals and dreams that you have. So I am going to continue to live my life and fight in the right way to show them that dreams can come true.

“Being a female boxer now is much better than it was ten years ago when I started and further back to when my sister started in 2013, the difference in the money is black and white, day and night. The promoters are coming in and giving us exposure and money, paid what we deserved, that’s getting us sponsors coming in and taking chances on us, so this is the time to be a female boxer

“Every now and then I think I’m done with boxing but I’m really happy and committed to boxing. I have a great promoter in Lou DiBella and we’re signed with Matchroom and Eddie Hearn behind me too, it’s a great team behind me, it’s where the money is and the exposure. There’s a new fire been lit under me and we deserve the money that we’re getting.”

Lou DiBella’s DiBella Entertainment and Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn proudly present Serrano’s clash with Voraberger on a three World title fight bill, topped by Demetrius Andrade’s first defense of his WBO World Middleweight title against Russian Artur Akavov and Irishman TJ Doheny’s maiden defense of his IBF World Super-Bantamweight title against Japan’s Ryohei Takahashi.–135423?print_friendly=1



Report, photos by Joe Koizumi

Inoue brothers will appear in the same show to fight for the WBO belts in Tokyo on December 30. It was announced by Ohashi Promotions on Wednesday. WBO junior bantamweight champ Naoya Inoue (11-0, 9 KOs), making his fourth defense, will face former WBA titlist, veteran compatriot Kohei Kono (32-9-1, 13 KOs) in a sensational matchup. His younger brother, Takuma Inoue (8-0, 2 KOs), only 20, will have an ambitious crack at the WBO bantam throne against Filipino hard-punching southpaw Marlon Tapales (29-2, 12 KOs). Also, IBF junior flyweight titleholder Akira Yaegashi (24-5, 12 KOs) will appear on the same card. An elongated southpaw, 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Satoshi Shimizu (1-0, 1 KO)will fight his second pro bout on the undercard.

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By Joe Koizumi
Photos: Sumio Yamada –

Unbeaten Japanese superstar Naoya Inoue (11-0, 9 KOs), 115, impressively retained his WBO junior bantamweight belt as he kept battering top contender Petchbangborn Kokietgym (38-8-1, 18 KOs), 115, swept all rounds and finally knocked him out at 3:03 of the tenth round on Sunday in Zama, Kanagawa, Japan. Inoue, making his third defense against all #1 contenders, displayed a complete control of the contest, but the game Thailander withstood his assault and amazingly showed his persistent retaliation. But Inoue finally accelerated his attack so furiously that he had the challenger sprawling to the deck for the count tolled by the referee Mark Nelson of the US.

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Report, Photos by Joe Koizumi

There was a medical exam today (Thursday) for the forthcoming WBO/IBF world title doubleheader in Tokyo, Japan. The results were as follows:

For WBO junior bantamweight (115 lb) title bout
Height: 163.7 cm (5’4.5”)/162.7 cm (5’4”)
Chest: 91 cm (35’10”)/93 cm (36’7”)
Reach: 173 cm (68’)/168 cm (66’)

For IBF junior flyweight (108 lb) title bout
Height: 160.8 cm (5’3”)/162.5ccm (5’4”)
Chest: 89 cm (35’)/91 cm (35’10”)
Reach: 165 cm (65’)/168 cm (66’)

To be frank with you, this reporter really realized the size of “Monster” Inoue at today’s medical exam. Every Japanese boxing people, including former world champions and influential promoters here, admit Naoya Inoue’s extraordinary talents in hard-punching, speed on food and hand, reflexes to avert punches of his opponent, and some describe him as the best ever produced in Japan, even including Fighting Harada, Kuniaki Shibata, Yoko Gushiken, Jiro Watanabe, etc.


Inoue, now still 23, has displayed tremendous performance in nine professional bouts and in sparring sessions (where he beat up almost every name partners including Yaegashi, Malcolm Tunacao, Yu Muranaka, other name Filipino boxers including Rocky Fuentes, Sony Boy Jaro, Rey Loreto, Giovanni Escaner, etc.). At this stage of his career we admit Naoya is superb and special enough to be called the best of the best in our Japanese boxing history.

But Inoue truly is small. He is only 5’4.5” in height and weighs only 115 pounds plus, though he usually weighs some ten pounds over the junior bantam limit. At this moment, Inoue, Japan’s Mighty Atom, may defeat Roman Gonzalez, Carlos Cuadras, and other champions un to the bantam category. But can he or will he be able to defeat Guillermo Rigondeaux, Carl Frampton and/or Leo Santa Cruz?

This reporter personally thinks it is very possible that Inoue, even now, can beat up and knock out Rigondeaux, Frampton and/or Santa Cruz. These boxers don’t master how to put the weight behind his punch, so they are all soft-punching pugilists depending only on fast combination punching, while Inoue can sink or finish his opponent with a single shot with precision.

But problem is his size. This reporter wonders whether Inoue will be able to defeat Adrian Broner even if Monster can punch much harder than Problem. Anyway, “Monster” Inoue will defend his belt against WBO top contender Carmona on Sunday and may try to demonstrate his tremendous talents against name opponents in the US, but there may be unfortunately a physical limit for Inoue to go over the wall.

This world title twinbll will be presented by Hideyuki Ohashi, former WBC/WBA world 105-pound champion and now promoter of Ohashi Promotions.


By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Boxing Beat

Newly crowned, unbeaten two-class world champ in only eight professional bouts, WBO junior bantam kingpin Naoya Inoue, just 21, was named Japan’s Boxer of the Year by Japan Boxing Commission and Sports Writers Club. Inoue, in the amazing 2014, seized the WBC 108-pound belt by disposing of Adrian Hernandez in his sixth bout in April and jumped up two categories to dethrone formidable WBO defending titlist Omar Narvaez in just two sessions last December. Inoue was also rendered Knockout award thanks to his three KO wins in as many games—all with the world title at stake in the previous year.

His title-winning fight with Narvaez was elected Fight of the Year due to the shockingly quick demolition by the enfant terrible. Inoue, trained by his father, took only three holidays after his triumph over Narvaez and returned to his routine gym work at Ohashi Gym as usual. The sensational champ may grow stronger and smarter.

The Technique award was given unbeaten WBC bantam ruler Shinsuke Yamanaka, and the Valuable Victory award went to IBF/WBO 105-pound champ Katsunari Takayama due to his coronation to win the vacant belts by stopping his compatriot Go Odaira this December. The Fighting Spirit award was rendered to three outstanding boxers of unbeaten WBA super-feather titleholder Takashi Uchiyama, ex-WBC ruler Akira Yaegashi and a gallant loser to Guillermo Rigondeaux named Hisashi Amagasa. New WBA 108-pound champ Ryoichi Taguchi and unbeaten ex-Olympic middleweight gold medalist Ryota Murata were awarded the Effort prize. The Rookie citation was given unbeaten future world champ Kosei Tanaka, 19, who acquired the OPBF 105-pound belt only in his fourth bout. The female Boxing of the Year was unanimously WBC atomweight ruler Momo Koseki who registered fourteen successful defenses to her credit.

The award-giving ceremony will take place at the Korakuen Hall from 6 PM on January 23, when great many aficionados will gather to watch the star-studded carnival. Too many isn’t necessarily a good thing, as there were such world champs as WBC 130-pound ruler Takashi Miura, WBA 115-pounder champ Kohei Kono and WBO bantam titlist Tomoki Kameda out of eight Japanese champs that failed to be given any award. Don’t worry, and get it next year.

Date:  Saturday, September 20, 2014


Location:  Argentina

Promoter:  O.R. Promotions / Osvaldo Rivero

Supervisor:   Jorge Molina

Referee:  Celestino Ruiz

Judges:  Patt Russell 114-114 | Dennis Nelson 116-112 | Robert Hecko 116-112

Results:  The Champion Omar Andres Narvaez retained the WBO Jr. Bantamweight title against Felipe Orucuta by Majority Decision.

TV:  Argentina T y C Sports

Date: December 15, 2012

WBO Jr. Bantamweight Championship Title Bout

Location: San Miguel, Tucuman, Argentina

Promoter: O.R. Promotions

Referee: Jose Hiram Rivera

Judges: Carlos Nieves Ortiz (120-106), David Singh (119-109), Ramon Cerdan (120-108)

Result: Narvaez won by unanimous decision.

The super flyweight champion of the World Boxing Organization (WBO), the Argentine Omar “El Huracan” Narvaez (37-1-2, 20 KOs), will face Puerto Rican challenger David Quijano (15-2-1, 9 KOs) on December 15 at the Hilton Garden Inn Hotel & Casino in the city of San Miguel de Tucuman, Argentina. The event is promoted by O.R. Promotions, with TyC Sports televising live to Argentina and Latin America. The event will be a private VIP show for an audience of 600 people.

Narvaez makes a very quick return after stopping Johnny Garcia in eleven rounds on October 20 in Buenos Aires. Quijano won a close technical decision over Filipino veteran Juanito Rubillar earlier this year to capture the vacant WBO Latino super flyweight title.

By Jhonny Gonzalez–59844