Kazuto Ioka and Joshua Franco will box a rematch today in Tokyo, Japan. As fans may recall, the two fought a good, hard, extremely competitive fight on New Year’s Eve in Japan, with Sakai’s Ioka defending his WBO title and Franco putting his WBA belt on the line. After 12 engrossing rounds, the decision was a majority draw, with plenty of people feeling Franco was pretty hard done by on the night.
Now the rematch. This time, only Franco’s WBA title will be on the line. Ioka, unhappy with his own performance in fight-one, opted to vacate the WBO belt when he was ordered to defend against mandatory challenger Junto Nakatini. Ioka doing what he did so he could get himself that rematch with Franco.
Credit to Ioka, 29-2-1(15) for doing what great champions do when he could instead have so easily swerved what he knows will be another tough night with Franco. Franco of San Antonio, Texas, also deserves credit for heading back to hostile territory.
WHAT TIME IS FRANCO VS. IOKA?
- Date : Saturday, June 24
- Time : 7 a.m. ET / 12 p.m. BST / 8 p.m. JST
- Main event ringwalks (approx): 9:00 a.m. ET / 2:00 p.m. BST / 10 p.m. JST
- The fight will take place at the Ota City General Gymnasium, in Tokyo, Japan
- The main card is set to get underway at 7 a.m. ET / 12 p.m. BST / 8 p.m. JST with the main event ringwalks scheduled for 9:00 a.m. ET / 2:00 p.m. BST / 10 p.m. JST.
Franco, 18-1-3(8) fought very well back in December, and his stock rose despite him not getting the victory. Franco seemed to win the lion’s share of the rounds during the first half of the fight, while Ioka, the older man by seven years at age 34, came on strong in the second half of the entertaining fight.
We can now look forward to another hard, immensely testing fight, for both warriors, in the rematch that had to happen. The upcoming June fight is a reminder of how true champions behave.
Another distance fight looks almost certain here, and a strong case can be made for either guy picking up the win. Sometimes in this sport we all love so much, it’s the little guys who come out and give us the best stuff.
FRANCO VS. IOKA FIGHT CARD
- Joshua Franco vs. Kazuto Ioka, rematch, 12 rounds, for Franco’s WBA junior bantamweight title
- Musashi Mori vs. Takuya Watanabe, 12 rounds, junior lightweights
- Daigo Higa vs. Sirichai Thaiyen, 10 rounds, bantamweights
- Kantaro Juri vs. Wilbert Berondo, 8 rounds, junior bantamweights
- Taiga Tamegai vs. Fumiaki Iwasaki, 4 rounds, junior featherweights