Kazuto Ioka vs Joshua Franco Preview June 24th, 2023
Former WBO Super Flyweight Champion Kazuto Ioka of Japan will be taking on WBA Beltholder Joshua Franco of San Antonio, Texas in a rematch this Saturday, June 24th. The 12-rounder from Tokyo can be seen live on Abema in Japan. The pair first fought on New Year’s Eve with Ioka hanging onto his WBO title by earning a draw. However he gave up title shortly after as he felt a rematch was in order while the WBO wanted him to move on and fight fellow countryman Junto Nakatani. In total, Ioka defended the belt six times before vacating it.
IOKA VS FRANCO BETTING ODDS
- Joshua Franco -125
- Kazuto Ioka -105
The 34-year-old Ioka of Osaka carries a record of 29-2-1 with 15 Ko’s. He dropped a split decision to Donnie Nietes on New Year’s Eve in 2018 in his first shot at the vacant WBO Super Flyweight Title and also lost a split decision to Amnat Ruenroeng for the IBF Flyweight Title in 2014 for his two career losses. He won the vacant Japanese Light Flyweight Crown in his sixth pro fight and then won the WBC Minimumweight Belt in his next outing when he stopped Kittipong Jaigrajang in the fifth round.
Ioka defended the Japanese Flyweight Belt three times and added the WBA Minimumweight Title in his third defense with a unanimous decision over Akira Yaegashi. He then took the WBA Light Flyweight Crown on New Year’s Eve 2012 by stopping Jose Rodriguez in the sixth round. He defended it nine times including wins over Juan Carlos Reveco (twice), Roberto Domingo Sosa, Keyvin Lara and Nare Yianleang. Ioka moved up to super flyweight in September, 2018 and captured the WBC Silver Title with a 10-round unanimous decision over McWilliams Arroyo.
Ioka won the vacant WBO Super Flyweight Title with a 10th-round stoppage of Aston Palicte of the Philippines in June, 2019. This gave him a world title in four different weight classes at minimumweight, light flyweight, flyweight and super flyweight and he’s the only Japanese boxer to achieve the feat. He defended the Super Flyweight Title against Jeyvier Cintron by unanimous decision on New Year’s Eve 2019 and stopped fellow countryman Kosei Tanaka in the eighth round on New Year’s Eve 2020 before beating Francisco Rodriguez, Ryoji Fukunaga and Nietes by unanimous decisions and then drawing with Franco.
Ioka stands just over 5-feet-4-inches tall with a 64.5-inch reach and is one of Japan’s top boxers. However, he’s not as well known outside of Asia as fellow countrymen such as Ryota Murata and Naoya Inoue. He’s boxed 300 rounds since turning pro in 2009 and isn’t really a power puncher with a current knockout ratio of 47 per cent and has gone the distance in five of his last six outings. Ioka also owns a solid chin and is a world class boxer on all levels. He won six national high school amateur titles and reportedly went 95-10 before turning pro.
The 27-year-old Franco enters the ring with a mark of 18-1-3 with 8 Ko’s and is unbeaten in his last eight fights. He’s boxed 149 rounds since turning pro in 2015 after a decent amateur career and has also won the WBA International Bantamweight and NABF Bantamweight Titles since then. He’s best known for his three straight fights with Oscar Negrete in 2018/19 in which he earned a 10-round split decision and fought to two 10-round draws.
He also fought Andrew Moloney three straight times with their first brawl coming in June, 2020 with Franco winning the WBA title via a controversial unanimous decision by scores of 114-113, 114-113 and 115-12 and Moloney suffering two perforated ear drums. A rematch was held five months later and saw Franco retain the belt after the fight was ruled a no-decision in the second round when Franco claimed he couldn’t continue after suffering a phantom head butt. Franco then won the rubber match via a unanimous decision. .
Franco’s lone loss came in March, 2018 when he was stopped by Lucas Leone in the ninth round. He stands 5-feet-5-inches tall with a 67-inch reach which gives him a 2.5-inch reach advantage on Ioka although he’s half-an-inchshorter. Franco’s not a power puncher either as his current knockout ratio sits at 34.8 per cent. He’s also beaten the likes of Felipe Rivas, Carlos Maldonado, Isao Gonzalo Carranza and Oscar Mojica. Franco has skills, speed, underrated power and above all, is quite entertaining in the ring.
Boxing runs through the family of both Ioka and Franco. Ioka’s uncle, Hiroki Ioka, was a two-weight world champion in the 1980s and 90s and was the first boxer to capture the WBC Minimumweight World Title after it was created in 1987. Franco’s brother is the current WBC Super-Flyweight Champion Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez. The first fight between them was an entertaining affair with Franco throwing and landing more punches but with Ioka being more accurate and landing the harder blows. Ioka likes to fight at close range and apply pressure with precise, accurate combinations to the head and body while Franco is more effective at mid-range and is good defensively and a fine counter puncher. This should be another close and entertaining fight affair but if Franco is a little more accurate this time he could leave Japan with a victory. .
Franco’s seven years younger and in the prime of his career. .
Play: Franco -125 @ BetOnline.ag
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