Ioka On Francisco Rodriguez Jr: “I Want To Display A Difference In Class”

Kazuto Ioka focused on title defense against Francisco Rodriguez Jr.

WBO world junior bantamweight champion Kazuto Ioka
Kazuto Ioka

Kazuto Ioka focused on title defense against Francisco Rodriguez Jr.

It’s no secret that WBO world junior bantamweight champion Kazuto Ioka (26-2, 15 KOs) has his next title defense against mandatory challenger Francisco Rodriguez Jr (34-4,24 KOs). The WBO ordered the match on June 1, with the two camps agreeing to terms on June 22. All that’s left was the date and the location.

During an August 10 press conference in Japan, Ioka-Rodriguez Jr was officially announced and will take place on September 1 at the Ota City General Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan.

It’s the third title defense for the defending champion. His last in-ring assignment was former three-division world champ Kosei Tanaka on December 31, 2020. The 32-year-old Ioka won that fight by TKO.


Following arguably the best performance of his career, Ioka entered a bitter battle with the Japanese Boxing Commission (JBC). After the bout, they claimed he failed a pre-fight drug test before the fight against Tanaka.

Hellbent on clearing his name, the Japanese star went out on a media campaign to maintain his innocence. Ultimately, Ioka was cleared of any misconduct, and the JBC extended a face-to-face apology after admitting irregularities within the drug testing process.

According to the Japanese media source the Kyodo News, Ioka was questioned about his battle with the JBC. He said he chooses not to dwell on what occurred over the last few months, and his focus is solely on retaining his world belt.

“I separate (the scandal) from the essence of boxing. I want to display a difference in class as champion.”

Rodriguez Jr is coming into this contest on a major winning streak. The challenger is former WBO & IBF world champion at 105 pounds. Since consecutive losses to Donnie Nietes and Moises Fuentes in 2015, the 29-year-old from Mexico has not lost since winning his last fifteen fights.

By: Michael Wilson Jr.

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Mike is the host of boxing podcast "Pound 4 Pound Boxing Report" and is a Senior Writer for