Home Boxing Kazuto Ioka, Joshua Franco agree to title unification bout

Kazuto Ioka, Joshua Franco agree to title unification bout

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Kazuto Ioka and Joshua Franco have agreed to terms for a 115-pound title unification on Dec. 31 in Japan, sources told ESPN.

Ioka (29-2, 15 KOs) holds the WBO junior bantamweight title, while Franco (18-1-2, 8 KOs) was elevated by the WBA in August after its super champion, Juan Francisco Estrada, relinquished his belt.

Ioka, a 33-year-old who fights out of Tokyo, won the title with a split-decision victory over Donnie Nietes in 2018. He has made five successful defenses, most recently a unanimous-decision win over Nietes in a July rematch in which he left no doubt.

Franco, a 26-year-old from San Antonio, closed out three consecutive fights against Andrew Moloney with a decision victory last August. He hasn’t competed since and secured his release from Golden Boy Promotions in August.

Ioka is rated No. 4 by ESPN at junior bantamweight, one of boxing’s most stacked divisions. Franco, the brother of Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez, is No. 7.

Future Hall of Famers Roman Gonzalez and Estrada meet in a trilogy on Dec. 3, and the winner could meet the victor of Ioka-Franco next year.

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