By Francisco Salazar
In the opening bout of the HBO telecast, Kazuto Ioka scored a knockdown to win a 10 round unanimous decision over McWilliams Arroyo.
Ioka was coming out of a brief retirement after his last fight in April of last year, a 12 round unanimous decision over Noknoi Sitthiprasett (aka Nare Yianleang). The 29-year-old Ioka had won world title belts at 105, 108 and 112 pounds.
Arroyo won a 10 round majority decision over Carlos Cuadras in his last bout on Feb. 24. The fight came almost two years after his decision loss to then-WBC flyweight titleholder Roman 'Chocolatito' Gonzalez.
After an even two rounds, Ioka dropped Arroyo with a counter right cross to the chin at the end of the third round. Arroyo was not visibly hurt by the punch and the bell sounded before Ioka was able to follow up.
Known for mostly being a country-puncher and a defensive fighter, Ioka spent much of the middle rounds as the aggressor, walking Arroyo down and throwing and landing combinations.
Arroyo did have his moments in the second half of the fight, connecting with right hands to the head of Ioka. However, Ioka was busier and connected more with combinations in the final two rounds.
Scores were 97-92, 97-92, and 99-90 for Ioka, who improves to 23-1, 13 KOs.
Compubox number favored Ioka, who connected with 254 of 797 total punches (32 percent). Arroyo landed 159 of 715 total punches (22 percent).
"I'm very happy with my performance and happy to have fought in America," said Ioka, who won a regional title belt with the victory over Arroyo. "The atmosphere was fantastic. I can't wait to come back and fight on the next 'SuperFly' card and against the best in the division."
Arroyo, from Fajardo, Puerto Rico, drops to 17-4, 14 KOs.
"It was a real fought fight," said Arroyo after the fight. "I thought it was close. I knew he was a high-quality opponent when I took the fight and he showed it tonight. The knockdown didn't really hurt me, but I tip my hat off to Ioka."
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing