After losing Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk on December 23rd, all signs point to another hotly anticipated year-end showdown going by the wayside. Juan Francisco Estrada, previously tabbed to face Kazuto Ioka in a year-end super flyweight unification bout, told Mexican media earlier this week that he’d been offered half of what he made against Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez. He claimed negotiations were still ongoing and that he was waiting two more weeks to see if promoter Juan Hernandez could offer him a larger purse and that he intended to fight by the end of the year even if the Ioka fight fell apart.
Julius Julianis added a day later that Japanese sources indicated no progress on that front, saying the problem “didn’t look easy to solve.” Jake Donovan confirmed last night that talks had “dramatically stalled.”
This would mark the second big upcoming Japanese fight to fall apart in the last week or so, as Takuma Inoue withdrew from his November 15th title defense against Jerwin Ancajas due to injury.
Estrada (44-3, 28 KO) hasn’t fought since a heroic effort carried him past Chocolatito last December, while Ioka (30-2-1, 15 KO) cruised past Joshua Franco in their June rematch. A fight between them would have been an explosive capstone to a largely quiet year at 115 that’s seen many of the major players compete once at most.
To be clear, I don’t blame Estrada for seeking proper compensation in what figures to be one of his last big fights, especially with two belts on the line in hostile territory. Still hard not to be bummed that we’ll likely miss out on a terrific scrap between two all-time greats whose arcs never managed to intersect.