Home Boxing News Joshua Franco outlines plans to knock out Kazuto Ioka on Saturday night

Joshua Franco outlines plans to knock out Kazuto Ioka on Saturday night

Joshua Franco and Kazuto Ioka trade punches. Photo credit: Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty Images

WBA super flyweight champion Joshua ‘El Profesor’ Franco 18-1-3 (8) will travel to Japan for the second time in six months to face former four-weight world champion Kazuto Ioka 29-2-1 (15) in an immediate rematch of their New Years’ Eve battle at the Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan on Saturday night, the same venue of their original clash that ended in a split draw.

Japan’s Ioka, 34, has had a tremendous career. After winning his first world title at minimumweight in just his seventh pro bout 12 years ago, he has competed in 23 world championship bouts for a record of 20-2-1 (10).

The master craftsman may be reaching the end of his storied career, but he still has the skill and experience to turn back the challenges of young bulls coming through trying to make a name for themselves.

The 27-year-old Franco learnt the hard way that Ioka is no easy mark when they met the last time. The San Antonio, Texas native, known for his volume punching, was competitive throughout the bout but couldn’t crack the tough nut that is Ioka.

After 12 competitive frames the judges scored the bout 115-113 for Franco and 114-114 twice in a bout that conceivably could have gone either way.

This time around Franco is planning to take it out of the judges’ hands. That’s a bold plan but against a veteran like Ioka, it’s easier said than done.

“I think I need to make my combinations a bit more clear, land my punches a bit more clear,” Franco said on the DAZN Boxing Show.

“I was the busier fighter but my punches weren’t as clear as I wanted. This time I want to dominate in the same way but make it clearer for this fight.

“That is the plan, we don’t want it to go to the judges, but if it does we want to make it a very clear win, so everyone is able to see that I’m the clear winner for that fight.”

Ioka is a master at controlling the pace of fights, slowing down his opponents and picking his moments to engage. More punches does not seem to be the right strategy to defeat him.

Franco has admitted to growing out of the weight class and may move up to bantamweight sooner rather than later, where the landscape has changed dramatically since punching machine Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue 24-0 (21) moved up in weight.

“We’ll see for a couple more fights, we’ll see how the weight goes for this fight. It’s always a struggle to make weight, but it’s getting a little bit harder, but for now we’ll be here,” Franco said.

“For sure, [Ioka] is my toughest opponent, he’s just the toughest and one of the best. A three division world champion, you’ve got to respect him for that. He’s a real patient fighter, you can tell he’s experienced, waiting for the next setup.”