Joshua Franco assured that he is received Ioka ‘found out’ going into rematch


Joshua Franco takes it to Kazuto Ioka throughout their first combat. Picture by Naoki Fukuda

Joshua Franco resides as much as the label of being a world titleholder.

Franco is assured he can’t solely outbox Kazuto Ioka however return to the US victorious.

The once-beaten Franco and Ioka will sq. off Saturday night time at Ota-Metropolis Basic Gymnasium in Ioka’s hometown of Tokyo, Japan. The combat will solely air reside in Japan on a pay-per-view streaming service with the primary occasion scheduled to start at 6 p.m. ET/ 3 p.m. PT.

The conflict between Ioka and Franco will pit two of the very best fighters at 115 kilos towards one another. Ioka and Franco are ranked No. 2 and 4, respectively, by The Ring.

The WBA title, which Franco owns, would be the solely world title up for grabs after Ioka vacated the WBO title in February (with a purpose to face Franco in a rematch fairly than face obligatory challenger Junto Nakatani). Nakatani and Andrew Moloney fought for the vacant WBO title on Might 20, which Nakatani claimed after knocking out Moloney within the remaining spherical on the Haney-Lomachenko undercard.

Franco (18-1-3, 1 NC, 7 knockouts) and Ioka first fought on December 31, which resulted in a majority-decision draw. One decide scored the bout 115-113 for Franco, a rating that appeared aligned to what most of boxing media and followers thought was the right rating of the combat.

Kazuto Ioka and Joshua Franco battled to a stalemate of their first combat. Picture by Naoki Fukuda

Some fighters in Franco’s scenario could balk on the considered having to combat a rematch in an opponent’s hometown, however Franco doesn’t consider it’s a issue for him.

“I don’t thoughts in any respect (going again),” Franco informed The Ring in a current interview over the cellphone. “It’s a fantastic feeling going again to Japan. The folks there are good and everybody there respects us. Now we have a job to do.”

Ioka (29-2-1, 15 KOs) defeated Donnie Nietes in his earlier combat on July 13 of final yr, avenging a break up choice loss to the Filipino fighter in December 2018. Ioka has additionally defeated the likes of Kosei Tanaka and Francisco Rodriguez, Jr., each ranked in The Ring high 10 at 115 kilos during the last couple of years.

The 32-year-old is unbeaten in his final seven fights, however Franco is assured he figured him out throughout their first combat and the rematch shall be a lot simpler.

“From watching movies after which preventing him earlier than, he fights the identical,” stated Franco, who’s unbeaten since a knockout loss to Lucas Fernandez in March 2018. “He appears to be like to counter from what his opponent does. Having fought him, I now know extra about what to anticipate from him.

“I used to be additionally out of the ring for over a yr. I really feel extra comfy and I don’t have ring rust. I consider I’m going to begin smoother this time round and dictate the combat.”

Franco is aware of he must be leery of Kazuto’s counter-punching potential. Picture by Naoki Fukuda

Previous to going through Ioka, there was speak of Franco going through Ring Journal junior bantamweight champion Juan Francisco Estrada, who then held the WBA title earlier than being stripped for not going through Franco, then the secondary titleholder. Franco was subsequently elevated to full WBA titleholder.

Regardless of the draw towards Ioka, Franco believes he belongs amongst the very best at 115 kilos and is keen to tackle all comers, together with the opposite world titleholders.

“I really feel like I’m the most effective,” stated Franco. “Undoubtedly assume I’m within the high 5. I’m a champion. I’ve one of many belts. I’ve proven off the abilities of being a champion. The dedication to get to the highest. I’m the most effective till somebody takes this title away from me.”

Franco is the older brother of WBO flyweight titleholder Jesse Rodriguez. There may be nonetheless hope each can in the future headline a card of their hometown of San Antonio, Texas.

“It’s going to imply lots and a dream come true for the 2 of us to combat there on the identical card. In the future, hopefully quickly.”

The 27-year-old has been guided all through his profession by coach Robert Garcia, who trains each Franco and Rodriguez. Garcia trains each, together with junior welterweight contender Jose Ramirez, middleweight contender Esquiva Falcao, and unbeaten light-weight contender Raymond Muratalla in Riverside, California.

Seeing what Garcia presently does for fighters he trains, together with the numerous he has skilled earlier than, together with Mikey Garcia, Brandon Rios, Marcos Maidana, and Abner Mares, Franco believes he’ll all the time be at his greatest with Garcia.

“It means lots to have gotten this far. I’m in good arms with Robert. So long as I’m with him, I do know I shall be a champion.

“Identical with my brother. We help one another for the reason that amateurs. We’re a household. It’s nice to look again the place we began and the place we at the moment are. We encourage and help one another.”


Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has coated boxing in Southern California and overseas since 2000. Francisco additionally covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He will be reached at [email protected]


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