Ioka Responds To Jesse Rodriguez: “I Can Fight Bam Next”

Kazuto Ioka Welcomes A Chance to Unify With Bam

Kazuto Ioka welcomes a unification clash with Jesse Rodriguez
Kazuto Ioka responds to a unification challenge at 115 from Jesse Rodriguez (credit: Kyodo, Ed Mulholland/Matchroom)

Kazuto Ioka Open to a Unification With Jesse Rodriguez

A possible junior bantamweight showdown between WBA champion Kazuto Ioka (31-2-1, 16 KOs) and two-time WBC champion Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez (20-0, 13 KOs) has been a hot topic among avid followers of the lower-weight divisions. For Bam, it’s a fight that’s at the top of his agenda. As far as he’s concerned, he wants it to happen as soon as possible.

Following Bam’s dramatic seventh-round knockout of Juan Francisco “El Gallo” Estrada on June 29, he went public with his desire to face the winner of the July 7, 115-pound unification clash between Ioka and IBF champion Fernando Martinez in Tokyo, Japan. Specifically, Rodriguez has his sights set on a fight with Ioka and is willing to fight the WBA champion in his home country of Japan.


During a public workout in Japan for the local boxing media, Ioka was asked about the recent comments from Rodriguez. The WBA champion responded with the following statement:

(Translated from Japanese) “While my immediate opponent is Martinez, I hope I can fight with Bam next so that I can add my third title in the division.”

It’s understandable why the boxing community can’t help themselves and want a fight between Ioka and Bam. It would be a fantastic matchup featuring two fighters currently ranked in the Top Ten fighter rankings.


Ioka is a four-division world champion and a future Hall of Famer. He won the WBA title in June 2023 with a unanimous decision victory in a rematch with Joshua Franco. Interesting to note is that Franco is the older brother of Rodriguez. At age 35, Ioka is still one of the most complete fighters in the sport.

Rodriguez has the look of someone who is on the verge of stardom. Like Ioka, the 24-year-old has no visible weakness. He’s getting better with each fight. One would guess that a big part of his motivation to face Ioka is to avenge his brother’s loss.

Both men are outstanding boxers. Rodriguez is the harder puncher. Ioka is more defensively responsible. On paper, it’s hard to pick a clear winner.

Ioka is a true professional. If he were to engage in a super-fight with Bam, that would be right up his alley. The WBA belt-holder wants to unify the division before calling it a career.

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About Mike W.2033 Articles
Mike is the host of boxing podcast "Pound 4 Pound Boxing Report" and is a Senior Writer for