Kazuto Ioka and Joshua Franco fight to majority draw in Japan
WBO Super Flyweight Champion Kazuto Ioka (29-2-1, 15 KOs) and WBA Champion Joshua Franco (18-1-3, 8 KOs) met early this morning in a unification bout at the Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan. This was the last major title fight in 2022, and the fight certainly delivered.
Franco started out strong with his pressure and combination punching while Ioka landed some clean shots in between Franco’s work. The middle rounds was where Franco really took control, he had Ioka on the ropes and built up a solid lead on my scorecard as a result. I had it 78-74 (6 Rounds to 2 Rounds) in favor of Joshua Franco after eight rounds.
Ioka responded like champions do and did much better in rounds nine and ten, narrowing the lead of Franco on my card. He landed some strong right hands and left hooks to the body, but was never really able to slow the American down.
With the fight still in the balance, Franco closed the show strong and probably should have been rewarded with the victory. Japan is normally known to be as unbiased as judging can get for a country’s hometown fighter, but most people that watched this fight live seemed to think Franco did enough to get the job done. I personally scored it 116-112 (8 Rounds to 4 Rounds) for Franco.
A rematch would be the perfect way to settle the score, but it appears that will not be next. Ioka is set to defend his title against WBO mandatory and former flyweight champion Junto Nakatani (24-0, 18 KOs). Franco could be on his way to fighting in another unification next, this time against WBC Champion Juan Estrada (44-3, 28 KOs).