Coming up Saturday night in Tokyo, Japan, it’s the final championship bout of 2022 as two world title holders, Kaz Ioka and Joshua Franco, at junior bantamweight clash in a unification showdown.
Ioka, 29-2 and the WBO’s 115 lb. champ, has already previously won world titles in three other divisions and is attempting to unify for the second time in his potential hall of fame career. If he does, he will become the first Japanese fighter to have ever done that.
However, the 27 year old WBA title holder and Texan Franco (18-1-2) is not coming into this one in the Far East intimidated. This is, especially after his two world championship wins over Australian Andrew Moloney the second of which came in his previous bout in August 2021 while headlining the Top Rank ESPN card in Las Vegas.
Watch us preview Ioka-Franco on our BetUS Friday afternoon live show,
In between Franco’s two decisive decision wins was a controversial no contest with Moloney, where Franco suffered a nasty swollen shut left eye from what Nevada officials called an accidental butt. However there was no conclusive video to support that it wasn’t a Maloney punch to Franco’s eye. So, Maloney claimed on appeal that he should have been given the victory on a TKO, but that appeal was denied by the WBA.
Consequently, the third fight was ordered and Franco got the validating win taking almost every round easily.
Franco is the slight underdog (+150) on the road according to the BetUS line for Saturday night showdown. You can also get a 125% match bonus with our promo code by clicking below,
Meanwhile, for Ioka, he is well aware of the opportunity to make history, as he told boxingscene.com earlier this week,
“It’s just a passing phase for me,” Ioka said about potentially becoming a two-division unified 115 lb. champ. “I want to prove that I am the best in this weight class and always aim for the next level (bantamweight). I want to have a showdown with (Juan Francisco) Estrada next.”
Estrada is a multi-division champ, who just defeated Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez by decision in their trilogy bout last month and his considered the lineal 115 lb. champ.
Estrada actually vacated his WBA belt and the organization elevated Franco to world champion status.
First things first, Ioka has to be ready for the strong challenge he’ll likely get from Franco for the dual championships.