Kazuto Ioka (26-2) put on a spectacular performance in Tokyo,Japan on New Year's Eve. The four-division champion stopped unbeaten three-division champion Kosei Tanaka (15-1) in 8 rounds at the Ota-City General Gymnasium to retain his WBO super flyweight title.
Ioka's long time trainer was very happy with his pupil's performance as he reflected on his stable's performance throughout a year largely ravaged by the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic.
Salas himself was infected by the coronavirus in late November which caused him to miss Joe Joyce's upset victory over Daniel Dubois in London.
"It was just another day in the office," Salas told BoxingScene.com a few hours after the fight. "The year started out with the pandemic but it ended up being a great year. I had 13 fights - won 12 - with 7 of them coming by knockout. What else could I ask for?"
The action began swiftly from the opening bell as Ioka and Tanaka looked to land power shots. Ioka had some trouble with the 25-year-old Tanaka's speed early on but made the necessary adjustments and dropped him in the 5th round. He followed that up with another knockdown in the 6th round before stopping a worn out Tanaka on his feet in the 8th round.
The world-class trainer knew it was just a matter of time before Ioka began to inflict damaging blows.
"Ioka is a great counter puncher and our plan was to invite Tanaka to attack us. He is a great come forward fighter but he leaves his guard down and we took advantage of that. We waited for the opening to counterattack," said Salas.
A then 29-year-old Ioka announced what would be a short lived retirement in January, 2018. Now at 31-years-old with four-division championships under his belt, Salas acknowledges that the end of the line could be coming soon.
"There are great fights at both 115 and 118 pounds for Ioka. He just needs to keep training intelligently to stay at the top of the sport but the reality is that he is an educated man outside of the ring, he takes care of himself and can leave the sport whenever he wants," Salas explained.
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