Fight Preview & Prediction: Kazuto Ioka v Joshua Franco

Who Holds the Advantage in Ioka v Franco?

Kazuto Ioka v Joshua Franco promotional poster
Kazuto Ioka v Joshua Franco promotional poster

Can Joshua Franco Dethrone Kazuto Ioka in his Backyard?


Boxing for 2022 caps off with a 115-pound unification contest on December 31 as WBO champion Kazuto Ioka (29-2, 15 KOs) battles WBA Super champion Joshua Franco (18-1-2, 8 KOs). The fight will occur at the Ota-City Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan at 7:30 AM EST.

CHAMPION VERSUS CHAMPION

A four-division world champion, Ioka has been one of the best and most accomplished fighters in the lower-weight divisions over the last ten years. The 33-year-old resident of Tokyo is the definition of a professional. What makes him so good is his versatility and adaptability.

Ioka is a highly skilled fighter who can sit outside and pick you apart but can also beat you on the front foot. The reigning WBO champ is not the fastest or strongest. Ioka gets the job done.

To win against Franco, he has to establish the tempo and win the battle of the jabs. Six years older than his opponent, Ioka should not stand in front of his opponent. Instead, he needs to use his better footwork to step around and use angles to set up his punches. It would also behoove the WBO champ to get home with some body shots to soften up Franco. The more Ioka can make this a battle of boxing IQ, the better.

He’s facing Franco, who burst onto the international scene with a surprising unanimous decision win over Andrew Moloney to win the WBA ‘regular’ strap in June 2020. After a disappointing two-round no-contest with Moloney in November 2020, Franco dominated Moloney in their trilogy bout in August 2021. Franco was subsequently elevated to WBA Super champ.

Like Ioka, the WBA champ is a fighter who can do a little bit of everything. The 27-year-old from San Antonio, Texas is the type of fighter who is not exceptional in one specific area but is solid in all parts of the trade.

To win this upcoming fight, Franco must have some success early and force the pace. Ioka is an expert at making opponents fight his fight and controlling the tempo. Franco cannot let that happen.

He has to find a way to get Ioka off rhythm and attack the body whenever possible. It would not be a bad strategy for Franco to rough Ioka up and make the older fighter work. The more physical the fight, the more it should suit the Texan.

THE PREDICTION

On paper, this sets up to be a good action-contest. Fighting in Ioka’s backyard, Franco will be the aggressor and take the fight to the WBO champ. The WBA champ will have moments of success.

The difference will be Ioka’s experience and the boxing CPU in his brain. He’s been in numerous big fights and understands the assignment. Ioka will make the necessary adjustments in the early rounds, pull away over the second half of the bout, and win by unanimous decision.

By: Michael Wilson Jr.

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About Mike W.2010 Articles
Mike is the host of boxing podcast "Pound 4 Pound Boxing Report" and is a Senior Writer for 3kingsboxing.com.