The bout in questions sees former 2-weight world champion Kazuto Ioka (16-1, 10) battle WBA Flyweight champion Juan Carlos Reveco (35-1, 19).
When the bout was first rumoured Ioka was unbeaten and a star of Japanese boxing. He had looked set to become just the second ever Japanese fighter to become a 3-weight world champion and was set to build on an excellent 2013 that had seen him go 3-0 (2) over opponents with a combined record of 114-9-3. Since then however he has lost his unbeaten record, losing to the tricky Amnat Ruenreong, and been made to look relatively ordinary by the limited Pablo Carrilo.
Ioka's loss to Amnat has taken a little bit of the shine from this bout though it's still an attractive one with Ioka rediscovering his form, and scoring an excellent KO over Jean Piero Perez in December, whilst Reveco showed some vulnerabilities of his own, including a knock down against Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep late last year.
Whilst the bout has lost a little of shine it's still a special bout between two world class fighters with a lot of ability, styles that should gel and a lot on the line.
Ioka, at his best, is a boxer-puncher who delivers brilliant body shots, moves well and, when needed, can brawl. Likewise Reveco is renowned for his body shots and his ability to be dragged from boxing to brawling. Stylistically they should drag the best from each and both should begin boxing with action heating up quickly and giving us, the fans, some really memorable back-and-forth sequences with each man trying to get the most significant blows.
Not only are both similar in how they fight but both have similar achievements. Ioka is a 2-weight world champion having won titles at Minimumweight and Light Flyweight. Likewise Reveco is also a 2-weight world champion having claimed titles at both Light Flyweight and Flyweight. Both are however second tier fighters in a division run by Roman Gonzalez and Juan Francisco Estrada, they are effectively battling for the scraps left by the two pre-eminent fighters in the division.
Whilst that sounds like an insult it shouldn't be. Gonzalez and Estrada are among the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet, being behind them is nothing shameful.
When it comes to this bout what we're expecting to see is a bout that starts slowly, seeing both men trying to figure the other out and look for counters. Both men are solid counter punchers, but it's not either man's strong point. After 3 or 4 rounds the bout will be in full swing, neither man happy to lose an exchange, and when they do they will fire back with interest. By the mid rounds the bout will quickly have become must watch entertainment with little to separate the men who attempt to prove that they are the better man. From then anything could happen.
On one hand we can see an Ioka win, on the other we can see a Reveco win.
On paper Reveco is the “better” Flyweight. He holds the most notable wins at the weight, including a stoppage of Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep last December in a memorable 5 round bout, a narrow win over Felix Alvarado, an 8th round technical decision win over Ricardo Nunez, and a win, in Japan over Masayuki Kuroda from back in 2013.
Reveco however is travelling fighter and will need to do his best to silence the Osakan crowd who will be cheering every punch Ioka lands. Reveco is also the old man and is a very old 31 year old who has already been in 36 bouts totalling 226 rounds, that's a lot of experience but also a lot of wear and tear. Notably however his last couple of wins look great on paper but weren't as amazing as he'd have hoped. Also from what we understand Reveco has had less than perfect preparation for this bout, with the early part of his training camp being done with out a trainer.
For Ioka the first advantage is that he's fighting at home. In fact this will be his 8th bout at the Bodymaker Colosseum, where is 6-1 (4). It was in the same venue that he unified WBC and WBA Minimumweight titles with his 2012 victory over Akira Yaegashi, it was in the same venue that he won the WBA Light Flyweight title, stopping Jose Alfredo Rodriguez, and where he recorded all 4 of his defences of that title.
Another Ioka's advantages is that he's just coming into his physical peak. Although it seems like Ioka has been around forever he's only just turned 26. He's been a professional for 6 years but hasn't been a busy one, instead he's been set on achieving as opposed to being active. His fights have typically served a purpose and as a result he's an experienced fighter, with 9 world title bouts, but not a worn out one.
The problem with Ioka however is the question mark regarding his size. In his 3 Flyweight bouts he's not looked like a Flyweight. Instead he has looked like a Light Flyweight fighting against bigger men. If that's not sorted out then he doesn't stand a chance against Reveco. Those middle rounds will be too much. Also we have questions about Ioka's power, especially at Flyweight. He has only scored a single stoppage in his last 4 bouts.
We're hoping to see the best of both men. If that happens then we suspect Ioka wins a very competitive decision with the later rounds just being enough for him to take home the win. If Ioka is any less than 100% then title is likely heading back to Argentina with Reveco.
(Image courtesy of Kazuto Ioka's blog)