Home Boxing News Kazuto Ioka adds to his Hall of Fame credentials with victory over...

Kazuto Ioka adds to his Hall of Fame credentials with victory over Joshua Franco

Kazuto Ioka (right) defeated Joshua Franco in their rematch. Photo credit: Kyodo News

They say that age is just a number, but if last’s night’s stirring performance by Kazuto Ioka is anything to go by, so too is weight.

The 34-year-old master craftsman from Japan gave away an astonishing 6.5-pounds to Joshua ‘El Profesor’ Franco in what was supposed to a title defence of the American’s WBA super flyweight belt at the Ota City General Gymnasium in Tokyo on Saturday night.

The 27-year-old Franco scaled 121.25-pounds to Ioka’s 114.75-pounds, meaning the titleholder came in a full two weight classes heavier than the challenger. As a result the belt was rendered vacant, leaving only Ioka eligible to win the title if he came through victorious.

The bout was a rematch of their closely contested majority draw at the same venue last New Years Eve. That fight was a unification bout, with Ioka staking his WBO belt against Franco’s WBA strap. In the wake of the result Ioka opted to vacate his championship to purse the rematch with Franco rather than defend against his mandatory challenger Junto Nakatani, who recently claimed the belt with a 12th round knockout of Andrew Moloney.

Ioka-Franco II picked up where the first fight left off. Both boxers stood at mid-range with Franco the busier fighter but Ioka lading the sharper, more eye catching shots.

The first four rounds were competitive but the local fighter appears to have the edge. In the fifth Franco was cut over the right eye and by the midway point of the bout Ioka appeared in control.

Although Franco had pockets of success, they seemed to wane as the fight wore on while Ioka only got stronger, mixing in uppercuts to his regular repertoire of body shots and overhand rights.

By the time the final bell had run the judges scored the bout unanimously for Ioka, 116-112 twice and 115-113.

“I’m glad I got the result,” said Ioka 30-2-1 (15). “I knew I had to keep throwing punches. Franco was as strong as last time, with a wide range of punches.”

Ioka said the draw against Franco 16-2-3 (8) has played on his mind over the past six months.

“Since that day (New Year’s Eve), so many things occurred, but I never give up,” Ioka said. “I became a champion again with the help of many people.”

In an interview with The Ring in the week leading up to the rematch, Ioka offered an insight into his mindset.

“I have not been satisfied with the result of the last match against Josh,” said Ioka, Japan’s only four-weight world champion. “Even if I had to give up the WBO title, I strongly hoped to have a rematch with him to decide the winner between the two of us.”

“He was the boxer I had imagined in the last match. I don’t feel threatened by him. After analysing the results of the previous match, I would like to win clearly this time.”

That he did.