By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter

FILIPINO Aston “Mighty” Palicte returns to the ring as he takes on Japanese Kazuto Ioka on Wednesday for the vacant World Boxing Organization super flyweight title at the latter’s home turf of Japan. It is a fight that one analyst said requires for the Philippine fighter to be at his utmost best.

Set at Makuhari Messe in Chiba, the two fighters will go at it to claim the title vacated by Filipino Donnie “Ahas” Nietes, who is now out pursuing bigger fights.

Incidentally, both Messrs. Palicte (25-2-1) and Ioka (23-2) had a shot at holding the title previously but were not able to complete them, with Mr. Palicte narrowly missing it after a split draw decision with compatriot Nietes in September last year and Mr. Ioka losing to Mr. Nietes in December for the title via split decision.

Considering the circumstances leading up to the fight, local combat sports analyst Nissi Icasiano said Mr. Palicte has to be ready for he is not only facing a highly capable champion fighter in Mr. Ioka but also someone who is aching for redemption in front of his hometown crowd.

“Of course, Ioka aims for redemption in this fight against Palicte. Losing to a veteran like Donnie Nietes who is quite small in stature at 115 pounds was already a big blow. This is a great fight for him if he wants to reinsert his name into the winner’s column,” said Mr. Icasiano when asked by BusinessWorld for his thoughts on the Palicte-Ioka fight.

“Palicte is a long-limbed power puncher and has a fearsome reputation as a finisher. A victory will resonate so much on his part. Aside from that, a win over Palicte will make him a four-division world champion,” the analyst added.

Doggedly determined his opponent will be, Mr. Icasiano said Mr. Palicte has to bring it and fight to his strengths if he is to bag the WBO title.

“For Palicte, he has to fight like the bigger man in the ring. Palicte has a distinct three-inch height and 1.5-inch reach edge over Ioka. He has to put those advantages into good use by establishing the jab, pace and distance. Make Ioka come to him,” said Mr. Icasiano of Mr. Palicte, who won over Puerto Rican Jose Martinez by knockout in January this year.

The analyst declined to call the match, seeing the outcome as very open and saying that fans should expect an exciting fight between two highly capable fighters.

“This is going to be an interesting and entertaining fight, I will say. Palicte has the size and power. Obviously, he is the younger competitor between the two. On the other hand, Ioka is the more skillful boxer. The Japanese hasn’t had more bouts than Palicte, but he has been on the world title stage on numerous occasions,” Mr. Icasiano said.