Kazuto Ioka Could Face Junto Nakatani Or Vacate For Estrada Fight
Questions abound for WBO junior bantamweight champion Kazuto Ioka (29-2-1, 15 KOs) following his disputed draw against WBA 115-pound Super champ Joshua Franco (18-1-3, 8 KOs). Who will Ioka fight next? The answers could have been provided by the WBO, who has ordered negotiations to begin for a contest between Ioka and their mandatory junior bantamweight challenger, Junto Nakatani.
In a formal letter, the sanctioning body says that representatives for Ioka and Nakatani have thirty days to reach a deal, or the bout will go a purse bid.
Nakatani is the ex-WBO flyweight champion who vacated that title in October 2022. During their convention in October of last year, the WBO named Nakatani as the mandatory challenger and ruled that he’s next in line to face the winner of Ioka-Franco.
THERE IS ANOTHER PATH
But word on the street was that Team Ioka had their eyes on a potential fight in the future against two-division champion Juan Francisco Estrada (44-3, 28 KOs), who was in attendance for Ioka’s fight against Franco. Ioka could conceivably vacate the belt and seek a match with Estrada. There’s a feeling among observers that Ioka will likely fight Nakatani.
An Ioka-Nakatani battle would be a big fight in their native country of Japan. You would have a match between the experience of Ioka versus the young and talented southpaw in Nakatani. While there is a certain lean that fans will see an all-Japanese battle between Ioka and Nakatani, nothing has been finalized. So, please stay tuned to 3Kings Boxing for continued updates.
By: Michael Wilson Jr.