Kazuto Ioka takes on Josber Perez on New Year’s Eve after failing to face Estrada

Kazuto Ioka takes on Josber Perez on New Year's Eve after failing to face Estrada

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On Sunday, WBA junior bantamweight Kazuto Ioka will return for his traditional New Year’s Eve date when he faces former world title challenger Josber Perez at the Ota-City General Gymnasium, Tokyo, Japan.

Ioka, The Ring’s No. 1-rated junior bantamweight, had hoped to face Ring champion and WBC titlist Juan Francisco Estrada. Frustratingly, the two sides weren’t able to broker a deal, but the show must go on.

“My team spent a lot of time negotiating persistently with Estrada’s camp, but we were unable to reach an agreement,” Ioka (30-2-1, 15 knockouts) told The Ring through Yusuke Ninomiya. “Of course, it’s unfortunate, but for me, the fight against Estrada is not everything.

“I am a champion and I believe it is my duty to have a fight against a challenger. Also, there are many boxing fans who are looking forward to my fight on New Year’s Eve. Therefore, even if it’s not a unification bout, I’ve decided to fight on New Year’s Eve.”

While a deal couldn’t be struck, it is believed that the fight still has a chance in the future.

“Both my team and Estrada’s camp will continue to have discussions to make this match happen next year,” said Ioka.

However, that may be hindered by talk of IBF/WBO flyweight titlist Jesse Rodriguez heading back to 115-pounds, where he mentioned facing the much in-demand Estrada.

The 34-year-old Ioka has won major titles in four weight classes. He initially won titles at strawweight, but then moved up to junior flyweight before adding more hardware at flyweight.

He retired for 17 months before returning and enjoying further success at junior bantamweight, initially claiming the WBO title before abdicating his thrown to face Joshua Franco in their rematch in the summer.

Ioka is the consummate professional and remains focused on Perez, in what will be his first defense but hopes to secure a career defining fight next year.

“This will be the 12th time for me to have a title match on New Year’s Eve,” he said proudly. “I feel it is my mission to fight on New Year’s Eve, and I will definitely win this bout.

“I will become the unified champion in 2024.”

While this may be something of a come-down from the proposed unification with Estrada, Ioka still has a job to be done and I expect him to box early and defuse the challenger’s power before forcing the stoppage in eight rounds.

Perez (20-3, 18 KOs) turned professional in 2016. The power-punching Venezuelan was upset in his fourth fight but rebounded well, collecting the national title and also a regional WBA belt. The 28-year-old lost a close fight to former world title challenger Rober Barrera (UD 10).

Perez was dominated by Artem Dalakian (UD 12) when he challenged the Ukrainian for the WBA title in 2020. After a three-year hiatus he has returned with three wins.

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected].

Follow @AnsonWainwright

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