Over the weekend Levin Luna, the sports director for Nicaraguan TV channel Canal 8, reported that there talks for WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (29-2, 15) [井岡一翔] to defend his title against WBA champion Joshua Franco (18-2-2-1, 8) in December, lining up with Ioka's now traditional New Year's Eve bout, in what would be a big unification bout between the two champions.
If the bout goes ahead, it would see Ioka, the first Japanese man to win world titles over 4 weight classes, seeking his 6th defense of the WBO title and build on recent defenses against the likes of Kosei Tanaka, Francisco Rodriguez Jr and Donnie Nietes. It would, if the bout takes place on December 31st, see him fight on New Year's Eve for the 11th time. It would also see him competing in his second unification bout, and see him fighting in a unification bout a year after a planned bout with the then IBF champion Jerwin Ancajas fell apart due to Japanese rules on visitors coming in to Japan.
As for Franco the bout would be his first since August 2021, when he won a unanimous decision in his third bout with Andrew Moloney. That bout was his second defense, with his first being a No Decision against Moloney in November 2020. If the bout takes place in Japan, as expected, the bout would also mark his first outside of North America and only his second outside of the United States, with the other bout taking place in Puerto Rico. For him it would be a huge chance to make a big statement on the top tier of the sport, though he would come into this as the under-dog if it does get staged in Ioka's homeland.
Andrew Moloney was as ever graceful as he watched Kazuto Ioka cruise to a unanimous decision victory over Donny Nietes this past week in Tokyo, Japan.
Ioka was dominant, as he continues to defy the laws of aging in boxing's lower weight classes.
Moloney gave his take on Ioka's performance in Japan, "Kazuto Ioka will go down as one of the greatest little big men of all time. There is no doubt about that. I have the utmost of respect for him, he is a great champion.
"He fought a great fight against Nietes, but to be slightly critical, I think both are them have slowed down a little. That is not meant in a disrespectful way, but that happens with age, you have to adapt, as Bernard Hopkins did. There were elements to Ioka's style that mirrored what he did as a light flyweight that I think could cause him issues against a bigger super flyweight such as myself."
As we enter into the final third of the year, the boxing eyes in the land of the rising sun begin to look to whom will box on New Year's Eve, with December 31 being one of boxing's biggest dates in Japanese boxing culture.
Moloney discussed his hopes of landing a fight on the prestigious date in the Japanese boxing calendar.
The former WBA world champion stated, "I'd love the opportunity to travel to Japan to fight Kazuto Ioka, that is a dream of a fighter in the lower weight classes such as myself. To headline in Tokyo on New Year's Eve would be something I'd dream of doing against such a great champion and then to become world champion again would be the icing on the cake.
"I do believe I'd beat Ioka, I believe I'm still getting better and showed that last time out. I would extend the invitation to Ioka to come over to Australia also, as Aussie boxing is booming right now and I fully believe the Australian boxing public would embrace a clash between myself and a legendary fighter in Ioka."
Images : Getty Images
Tomorrow in Japan we'll see WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (28-2, 15) [井岡一翔] take on Filipino great Donnie Nietes (43-1-6, 23), in Ioka's 4th mandatory defenses in 5 bouts. Today, ahead of their bout, the two men took part in their weigh in for the bout.
At the weigh in Ioka originally missed weight, coming in at 40g's or 0.09lbs, before reweighing a few minutes later and making weight, bang on at 115lbs This was put down to the fact his scales at home were wrong, or weren't calibrated quite the same as the ones at the venue. As for Nietes, he was comfortably under the limit, coming in at 114.6lbs, on his first attempt to make weight.
As well as the two men making weight they each spoke to the media, and make a selection regarding their gloves for the bout.
Regarding the gloves, both men will be fighting in 8Oz Everlast gloves, with Ioka selecting black gloves and Nietes selecting red.
As for the comments to the media, Ioka stated that he was in perfect condition and that he wanted to show a strong impression as the champion. He explained it was a mandatory, he wanted revenge and was then wanting to fight for the IBF title late in the year to unify the WBO and IBF belts.
Neites on the other hand explained that he had been eating regular meals, was in good shape, and was going to win for Filipino fans, which is notable given that right now there are no Filipino world champions. He also explained that after he beats Ioka he wants to face either Roman Gonzalez or Juan Francisco Estrada.
Related - Ioka seeks revenge in rematch with Nietes!
On Wednesday we'll see WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (28-2, 15) [井岡一翔] take on Filipino great Donnie Nietes (43-1-6, 23), in a rematch of their 2018 bout which saw Nietes take home a controversial decision victory in Macau.
Today, ahead of their bout, the two men attended a pre-fight medical which saw both men passing all the tests and having measurements taken, whilst also speaking to the media.
In comments to the media Ioka suggested that he wasn't impressed by Nietes in their first bout, and that he felt he should have had the win. He also explained that he was in perfect condition for this bout, as he looks for a win in his 22nd world title bout! As for Nietes he spoke about being grateful for this opportunity, and he also explained the origin of his nickname "Ahas", the Filipino word for Snake, the Japanese media. Interestingly he alluded to the fact both men maybe seeking a KO this time, after their close bout back in 2018.
As for the measurements. They showed Ioka to be the naturally bigger man, having advantages in terms of height and reach, and of course he's also the much younger man. He was also the thicker set man, suggesting he's the naturally bigger man in all dimensions, however he was in their first bout too, and failed to do what was needed to get the win there.
The weigh in will take place around mid-day Japan time on Tuesday. For those wanting to watch that, we have included the official live stream of it below. The fight will be shown live on TBS, and affiliates, across Japan from 9PM local time, and can be watched, internationally, by using a YoiTV account.
Related - Ioka seeks revenge in rematch with Nietes!
In just over a week's time we'll see WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (28-2, 15) [井岡一翔] take on Filipino great Donnie Nietes (43-1-6, 23), in what is a much anticipated rematch between two men who clashed at the end of 2018.
Today, ahead of that clash, Ioka took part in a public work out.
The session saw going through some stretches and other basic exercises, whilst ducking and moving under some ropes and showing off a sharp 1-2.
The work out was surprisingly basic and not a great example of what Ioka has got in his locker for the bout, though it's fair to say that the work has been going on behind the scenes. In fact it was revealed that he has spent over 100 rounds sparring for the bout, spending time in the ring with former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (17-2-1, 17) [比 嘉 大吾] and Jukiya Iimura (3-0, 1) [飯村樹輝弥].
Notably Ioka has been communicating online with training Ismael Salas, who will arrivie in Japan a few days before the bout, and will work his corner against Neites. We dare say that Salas and the team have set a smart game plan to over-come the intelligent, though now 40 year old Nietes.
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