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Joshua Franco and Kazuto Ioka to meet in rematch in June

Image: Joshua Franco and Kazuto Ioka to meet in rematch in June

By Craig Daly: Joshua Franco will be defending his WBA super flyweight title against Kazuto Ioka in a rematch in June at a still-to-be-determined date and venue in Japan.

There’s no word yet on which network the Franco vs. Ioka fight will be shown on. The last time they fought, it wasn’t televised in the United States.

It makes sense to stage the rematch in Japan because it’ll make more money over there than it would in the U.S. For Franco to fight at home in San Antonio, he would need to make a big offer to place the fight over there, and there’s no chance it would make the kind of money that it will make in Japan.

Franco (18-1-3, 8 KOs) fought a controversial 12 round draw against Ioka on December 31st at the Ota City General Gymnasium, Ōta, Tokyo, Japan.

Despite appearing to win by a wide score in the eyes of many people, the judges scored it 115-113 for Franco and 114-114, 1114-114. This writer had Franco winning 10-2 as he overwhelmed the older 33-year-old Ioka with his work rate and combination punching.

Interestingly, the 33-year-old Ioka (29-2-1, 5 KOs) will be vacating his WBO 115-lb title rather than defending it against his mandatory Junto Nakatani, who the World Boxing Organization recently ordered him to face.

It’s a smart move by Ioka because the unbeaten 25-year-old Nakatani (24-0, 18 KOs) would likely beat him, and probably everyone else at 115 for that matter.

Ioka at least has a chance of beating the 27-year-old Franco if the judges score the fight favorably as they did the last time they fought.

“Joshua Franco and Kazuto Ioka have signed contracts for a 115-pound title rematch slated for June in Japan,” said Mike Coppinger to ESPN.

“Franco’s WBA junior bantamweight title will again be on the line, but Ioka’s WBO belt won’t be. He is vacating his title ahead of a Feb. 28 purse bid for a mandatory bout vs. Junto Nakatani. There is no U.S. TV deal for the rematch yet.”

The San Antonio, Texas native is the older brother of 23-year-old Jesse “Bam’ Rodriguez, a popular former WBC super flyweight champion.

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Before choosing to relinquish his WBO 115-lb title, Ioka had defended his belt six times.

Franco is an exciting combination puncher similar to WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol. He puts his shots together in three to five-punch combinations to overwhelm his opponents,  which Franco did against Ioka last December.

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