Several parts of the Japanese press are reporting that former 2-weight world champion Kazuto Ioka (15-1, 9) will be returning to the ring on December 31st for what will be his 4th successive New Year's Eve bout.
Whilst Ioka fighting on New Year's Eve isn't shocking what is is that he's keeping his options very open in an attempt to become a 3 weight world champion.
From what we understand Ioka and his team have made an approach to unified WBO/WBA champion Juan Francisco Estrada (30-2, 22) as well as an approach to WBA regular champion Juan Carlos Reveco (34-1, 18) whilst apparently accepting that a fight rematch with Amnat Ruenroeng (14-0, 5) is unlikely to happen.
The Estrada fight would likely be the easiest to make, given that Estrada doesn't have a fight lined up, but would clearly be the hardest to win given that Estrada is something special and the only man we favour over him is WBC champion Roman Gonzalez (40-0, 34), who is of course busy himself with a fight on November 22nd. Estrada is conceivably the man someone would beat if they wanted to make a statement but they'd have to be a very, very special Flyweight fighter to beat him. We do think Ioka is a special fighter but not a special Flyweight as seen in his two bouts at the weight so far, including his recent win over Pablo Carrillo.
A fight with Reveco would be contingent on Reveco winning his upcoming WBA/WBA Interim unification bout with Thailand's Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep (34-2, 20) at the end of October and being healthy enough to fight again on December 31st. The Ioka/Reveco fight is one that has been mentioned ever since Ioka make it clear he was moving to Flyweight though the two men have never managed to actually make a concrete deal and trying to schedule it after Reveco's bout with Yodmongkol could be a risky strategy considering that Yodmongkol isn't an awful fighter himself, despite his lucky defense against Takuya Kogawa. If Reveco loses Ioka may try to strike a deal with Yodmongkol though even that might be impossible to make for New Year's Eve given that it will be a tough bout for both men.
From what we have been informed Amnat Ruenroeng, the IBF champion who actually beat Ioka earlier this year, has been ruled out based on the fact that some reports suggest he is trying to squeeze in a different defense before the end of the year, albeit a defense that has yet to be scheduled or announced publicly.
Interestingly whilst all 3 men are targets of Ioka they may also be targets for Naoya Inoue (7-0, 6) who is set to mount a move, either to 112lbs or 115lbs. We're unsure if Inoue will target any of these 3 for this year though it's certainly not out of the question with his match making having been very aggressive and advanced so far into his career.
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