OKBET dictated that the upcoming boxing match between Kazuto Ioka and Joshua “El Professor” Franco will favor the former, with odds of 1.65-2.15. Their bout will happen on New Year’s Eve at Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo. Here is why the Japanese boxer is most likely to emerge as the winner:
Ioka, 33, and the no. 2 fighter at 115 pounds, has far more experience than Franco, who is ranked no. 6 by The Ring. Of his 31 fights, 29 of those were victories through knockouts. He only lost twice.
Meanwhile, Franco, 27, has 22 bouts under his name. He won 18 of those matches by knockouts. He did lose once via knockdown and had two draws, which Oscar Negrete gave him in 2018 and 2019.
In terms of technique, both are orthodox-style fighters. However, Franco is at a disadvantage regarding his knockout power of just 36.36%, unlike Ioka’s 48.39%.
Nevertheless, the American has the advantage when it comes to reach with 170 cm. The Japanese, on the other hand, has 166cm.
El Professor would likely use his long arms to create distance against Ioka to try and upset the boxing odds at OKBET. But the experience of the Japanese, who won his first world title in just seven matches, would prove helpful in their upcoming fight.
Moreover, this will be the fourth time Ioka defends his title. His recent win was against Filipino fighter Donnie “Ahas” Nietes via a unanimous decision. Meanwhile, Franco’s last match was against Andrew Moloney in 2021.
After beating Nietes last July, the Japanese boxer announced his plan to have all four bantamweight belts. To begin unifying all the WBA titles under his name, he will first have to defeat Franco, who just became a titleholder after Juan Francisco Estrada gave it up last August.
“I have always said that I will unify the four belts in the junior bantamweight division. This will be the first step,” stated Ioka.
Admittedly, he felt that his opponent would struggle coming off a 16-month hiatus.
“I think for any boxer it is always a challenge when you take long period off. But we won’t know until he is in the ring how he is going to do. For me, when I came out of retirement, I was in Los Angeles against [McWilliams] Arroyo and remember being really excited. But it took a few rounds to get back. Most of us box [from a] young age so we can’t forget how to box in 16 months. I expect him to be at his best, that is why he is a champion,” said the Japanese boxer.
Apparently, whoever wins the fight between Iota and Franco would face former WBO flyweight titleholder, Junto Nakatani. However, Iota said he would focus on beating his opponent this Saturday before thinking of going toe-to-toe with his fellow Japanese boxer.
“I’m focused on just one thing, that is to win this fight to unify,” stressed Iota. “Then my priority will be to unify all the belts at 115.”
The winner of the Iota-Franco match will be facing Nakatani in 180 days.