Kazuto Ioka figured he must face the music sooner or later.
Controversy has swirled from the four-division and reigning WBO junior bantamweight titlist’s eighth spherical knockout win over Kosei Tanaka this previous New Yr’s Eve in Tokyo. The half that’s make the information has nothing to do with the combat itself, nevertheless; fairly Ioka’s violation of present and antiquated guidelines with the Japanese Boxing Fee (JBC).
A panel dialogue is going down over the type of self-discipline to dole out over Ioka preventing with seen tattoos, which is frowned upon because it pertains to boxing in Japan. The JBC guidelines state that nationwide boxers with “a tattoo or different markings that makes the viewers really feel uncomfortable” shall not be permitted to compete in a boxing occasion.
“For me in boxing, the fee asks me to [conceal] it earlier than I enter the ring,” Ioka beforehand defined in a YouTube video final October. “However it actually is unnecessary and it has nothing to do with boxing, so I hope to chip away at this rule.”
The outdated rule doesn’t lengthen to fighters outdoors of Japan, and even those that relocated to Japan from elsewhere (akin to Venezuela’s former three-division titlist Jorge Linares, who lives in Tokyo). It additionally exists from a time when tattooing was unlawful within the nation. A ruling handed down final June by the Supreme Court docket of Japan deemed that it was now not against the law to tattoo with no medical license, rejecting an enchantment from Japan’s State’s Legal professional’s workplace and throwing the case out of court docket, in response to nationwide printed reviews.
Boxing has but to catch up on this regard, with the most recent fee probe overshadowing an in any other case outstanding feat within the ring.
“People who find themselves watching boxing are centered on the motion within the ring, not the tattoos they [sport],” notes Ioka. “Then there are worldwide boxers who reside in Japan and combat for gyms right here which have tattoos and they’re allowed to combat with out having to [conceal] as a result of they’re foreigners.
“So, it’s a clumsy as nicely and inconsistent rule. If they’ll ban it, then they need to ban it for all fighters , Japanese and foreigners.”
Ioka (26-2, 15KOs) determined to get a tattoo shortly following his return to the game in 2018 after abruptly retiring the yr earlier than. The 31-year previous Osaka native entered the ring on New Yr’s Eve with ink throughout his decrease left stomach and a full sleeve on his left arm.
“I made a decision to get it to represent that I used to be going to do one thing that I couldn’t flip again on,” explains Iota, who has fought thrice in Japan since his return, which preceded his U.S. debut and a combat in Macao. “If I made a decision to return, I can’t run away from that call. As well as, it was to represent my feeling in the direction of my household which was dedication that it was eternally and by no means remorse.”
Ioka notes that he utilized concealer in an try to cut back visibility to his ink, however that the applying wore off by the point he entered the ring. To his level, much less consideration was paid to his markings than the spectacular efficiency within the ring. Ioka—Japan’s only-ever male boxer to win titles in 4 weight divisions—denied his countryman that very same honor, dropping Tanaka—a beforehand unbeaten three-division titlist previous to combat evening—twice earlier than stopping him within the eighth spherical of their extremely entertaining title combat.
No matter destiny the JBC has in retailer shouldn’t show consequential to the remainder of his profession. Based on our buddies at AsianBoxing.information, expectations are for Ioka to obtain a “Strict Warning”, though essentially the most extreme punishment could be an indefinite license suspension.
Both approach, there stands a larger likelihood of the four-division titlist bringing again his act to North America. In his sights are unification bouts with lineal king and WBC titlist Juan Francisco Estrada (41-3, 28KOs), four-division and reigning WBA titlist Roman ‘Chcocolatito’ Gonzalez (50-2, 41KOs), and Philippines’ Jerwin Ancajas (32-1-2, 22KOs) whose final 5 defenses of his IBF belt have taken place within the U.S. or Mexico.
“After I returned, I meant to combat [extensively] in America,” stated Ioka, who scored a 10-round win over McWilliams Arroyo of their Sept. 2018 bout in Carson, California earlier than returning to Asia for his previous 4 bouts. “I didn’t intend to return to Japan and combat. However, if the fee says I can’t combat right here due to the tattoo, then I’ll solely combat internationally.”
That’s to not say that the history-making titlist will flip his again on his nation altogether. Ioka will proudly fly Japan’s flag irrespective of the place he fights.
In some unspecified time in the future, although, it’s hoped that the JBC can stability its longstanding fame as a corporation with integrity, with simply sufficient flexibility to catch as much as twenty first century tradition within the least offensive sense.
“I hope in the future, Japan boxing will grow to be extra common to some extent the place individuals watch boxing not primarily based on a world title match or not,” envisions Ioka. “To take action, previous considering and construction might should be reconsidered. I hope extra fighters will go combat at—let’s say at Madison Sq. Backyard (in New York Metropolis) and that it will change the notion of Japanese boxers in a constructive approach.
“For me, I’ve a model in Japan as a world champion boxer, I hope to raise this model and take it internationally and be a task mannequin to younger fighters to dream massive. So, I’m not likely enthusiastic about my tattoo [affecting] this combat, which I consider was nice for Japan boxing, I’m considering extra concerning the future and to make boxing higher for younger fighters who’re attempting to make boxing as their dwelling.”
Jake Donovan is a senior author for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox