Today in Japan, Kazuto Ioka, facing an overweight Joshua Franco, boxed his way to a 12 round unanimous decision win. Ioka made the decision to go ahead with the fight, a rematch of a New Year’s Eve draw between the two, despite the fact that Franco failed to make weight by some margin, this by over six pounds. And it paid off.
Ioka landed the more telling blows and he earned a unanimous decision, the scores being 116-112, 116-112 and 115-113. Ioka is now 30-2-1(15), while Franco falls to 18-2-3(8).
34 year old Ioka, a superb counter-puncher, was outworked in the opening round, this as 26 year old Franco came out firing jabs. Ioka got going in the second round, the Japanese star briefly stunning Franco and also going to the American’s midsection and backing his man up. In some rounds, Franco was busier while Ioka landed the more eye-catching blows. A close fight at the half-way stage, while Franco suffered a cut above his right eye in the fifth.
Ioka appeared to win the championship rounds, with Franco sensing he needed a KO to win. It never came, with Ioka landing the harder, more telling shots. Ioka’s body work continued throughout. In the end, though it was close on one card, there was no real doubt who the winner was. Franco, affected by the excess weight, just didn’t do enough. Ioka, on top of the world once again, burst into tears of emotion after getting the victory.
Ioka may now try and unify the 115 pound titles, while Franco will almost certainly move up in weight.
Ioka, who should be on everyone’s pound-for-pound list, is the only Japanese boxer to have won world titles in four separate weight divisions. Having vacated the WBO title after the draw with Franco, this as Ioka badly wanted to redeem himself after the draw, Ioka got what he wanted and he now begins a second reign as a 115 pound champion, this after having ruled at mini-flyweight, light-flyweight, flyweight, and super-flyweight (or junior-bantam if you prefer).
It will be interesting to see how longer Ioka continues to fight for before he retires and gets enshrined in The Hall of Fame.