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Kazuto Ioka remains on NYE card, will face Ryoji Fukunaga

Fukunaga, ranked sixth by the WBO, replaces Jerwin Ancajas on two weeks’ notice

BOXING-JPN Photo by KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images

Japan’s travel restrictions scrapped a number of highly appealing fights this month, including a New Year’s Eve super flyweight unification bout between Kazuto Ioka and Jerwin Ancajas. Luckily, various outlets report that Ioka will remain on the Tokyo card and defend his WBO title against sixth-ranked contender Ryoji Fukunaga.

Fukunaga (15-4, 14 KO) has won five straight, four by knockout, since a 2018 loss to Kongfah CP Freshmart in hostile territory. His efforts have earned him the WBO “Asia Pacific” title, the OPBF title, and the Japanese title alongside a top-15 ranking from BoxRec. He’s honestly the best feasible replacement they could have gotten for Ancajas on this sort of notice, and the 35-year-old’s history of finishes suggests that we’re in for a quality scrap.

Ioka (27-2, 15 KO) was last seen turning aside a stiff challenge from Francisco Rodriguez Jr. in in September, his first fight since a dominant finish of Kosei Tanaka last NYE. Ancajas and his team have stated that they intend to revisit the matchup in “April or May,” and this is as good a way for Ioka to stay busy as any.