After unification talks with WBC titlist Juan Francisco Estrada collapsed over finances, WBA super flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka announced last night that he’ll face former flyweight title challenger Josber Perez atop a New Year’s Eve show in Tokyo.
Since ringing in 2012 with a knockout of Veerawut Yuthimitr during his minimumweight days, Ioka (30-2-1, 15 KO) has fought on 12/31 every year except 2017.
Perez (20-3, 18 KO) will fight outside his native Venezuela for just the second time, having previously dropped a wide decision to Artem Dalakian three years back in the latter’s native Ukraine. His record is mostly fluff, so while Ioka has fought down to his opponents in the past, it’s hard to imagine this turning into a stumbling block.
You really do have to feel for Ioka, who’s in the “big fights or bust” stage of his career. A 2021 IBF unification with Jerwin Ancajas fell though due to JApan’s COVID-based travel restrictions, his WBA/WBO unification with Joshua Franco ended in a draw, he had to ditch the WBO belt to make that rematch possible, and now he’s missing out on an Estrada fight due to circumstances outside of his control.
Hopefully something’ll work out in 2024. Even if Estrada doesn’t lower his asking price, maybe Chocolatito or Fernando Martinez will want a tussle.
The other notable fights that evening include Daigo Higa’s battle with former bantamweight contender Nawaphon Kaikanha and a solid domestic rematch between Yoshimitsu Kimura and Kosuke Saka.