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Kazuto Ioka vs Joshua Franco unification in the works for New Year’s Eve

Kazuto Ioka holds the WBO super flyweight title, Joshua Franco the WBA “super”

BOXING-JPN Photo by KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images
Patrick Stumberg is a freelance writer for SB Nation, first joining the network in 2011 before linking up with Bad Left Hook in 2015.

Turns out Kenshiro Teraji vs Hiroto Kyoguchi won’t be the only unification Japan hosts in the coming months. Levi Luna reports and Jake Donovan confirms that WBO super flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka and newly minted WBA “super” champion Joshua Franco are on course to unify on one of the country’s traditional end-of-year shows.

Per Donovan, the bout will be submitted to the WBO for approval during their annual convention this month. Seeing as Ioka (29-2, 15 KO) has fought more mandatory challengers of late than any other single-belt titlist I can think of, I doubt there’ll be an issue.

It’s a hell of a first defense for Franco (18-1-2, 8 KO), who was upgraded from “world” champion earlier this year after Juan Francisco Estrada declined to fight him in favor of preparing for a trilogy match with Chocolatito Gonzalez. He’s coming off of two trilogies of his own, a 1-0-2 series against Oscar Negrete and a 2-0 (1 NC) series against Andrew Moloney.

It’s also a really strong matchup. Ioka’s always been a top-class operator with a vicious body attack and fan-friendly style, while Franco has never shied away from a slugfest. Plus, while Ioka does have the clear edge in experience and overall technique, he’s had his fair share of tough outs against seemingly lesser opponents.

Hopefully the winner can go on to fight Bam Rodriguez or Fernando Martinez or whoever wins between Estrada and Chocolatito. Superfly never die.

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