A win on Saturday for Kazuto Ioka will as soon as once more see his identify etched within the file books.
It’s removed from his finish sport, nonetheless.
Japan’s lone-ever male four-division titlist is about for his WBO/WBA junior bantamweight unification bout versus visiting Joshua Franco. The 2-belt takes place this Saturday on TBS-Japan (5:00 p.m. native time/3:00 a.m. ET). With a victory, the 33-year-old Ioka would grow to be the one Japanese fighter to unify at the very least two belts in two separate weight divisions, having beforehand accomplished so at strawweight.
The aim from there can be so as to add the remaining two junior bantamweight straps to his assortment.
“I need unify the 4 titles [at 115 pounds] to show that I’m one of the best on this weight class,” Ioka informed BoxingScene.com by translator and promoter Yusuke Ninomiya. “I wish to have a showdown versus [lineal/WBC champion Juan Francisco] Estrada subsequent.”
Satirically, Ioka’s unification bout comes as a direct results of Estrada (44-3, 28KOs) opting towards a WBA title consolidation bout with San Antonio’s Franco (18-1-2, 8KOs). The 2 have been as a consequence of meet earlier this summer season, however Estrada elected to relinquish his WBA ‘Tremendous’ title, permitting Franco to obtain an improve to full WBA 115-pound champ after beforehand holding a secondary model of the belt.
Estrada as an alternative proceeded with a rubber match versus former four-division champion Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez (51-4, 41KOs), whom he outpointed over twelve rounds on December 3 in Glendale, Arizona. Franco was ringside for the event, whereas Ioka watched—unimpressed—from his coaching camp.
“I believed it was a boring match, to be sincere,” claimed Ioka.
Estrada walked away as a two-time WBC junior bantamweight champion whereas additionally lodging the fifth protection of his lineal championship. Afterward, the two-division champ from Hermosillo, Mexico informed BoxingScene.com of his need to subsequent face the Ioka-Franco winner as he’s permitted a voluntary title protection whereas the WBC kinds out his subsequent necessary title challenger.
Franco has already expressed his curiosity in such a battle. Ioka is simply as eager, which might solely go away IBF champ Fernando Martinez—who’s in talks for a compulsory title protection versus Jade Bornea—because the final piece of the puzzle to crown an undisputed junior bantamweight champion.
For now, one other piece of historical past is properly in attain for Ioka. He already prevailed within the first-ever unification bout between two reigning Japanese titleholders when he outlasted Akira Yaegashi of their fiercely contested June 2012 WBC/WBA strawweight title conflict.
A win on Saturday provides him an unprecedented (in Japanese boxing) second unified title reign. It might come lower than three weeks after countryman Naoya Inoue turned Japan’s first undisputed champion within the multi-belt period following his Dec. 13 eleventh-round knockout of Paul Butler of their lineal/WBA/WBC/IBF/WBO bantamweight championship in Saitama, Japan.
Chasing that stage of historical past is the true finish sport for Ioka, extra so than the subsequent benchmark inside attain.
“It’s only a passing part for me,” Ioka mentioned of doubtless changing into a two-division unified champ. “I wish to show that I’m one of the best on this weight class and at all times goal for the subsequent stage.”
Jake Donovan is a senior author for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox