WBA super flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka 30-2-1 (15) will make his sixth straight appearance in the ring on New Years Eve when he defends his title against Josber Perez 20-3 (18) at Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan.
It’s not the fight we were looking for, but it’s the fight we got.
The 34-year-old four-weight world champion was in negotiations to face WBC counterpart and Ring Magazine champion Juan Francisco Estrada 44-3 (28) on the last day of the year but negotiations with the 34-year-old Mexican fell apart over money at the start of the month.
Estrada has not boxed since his majority decision win over Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez 51-4 (41) in their trilogy bout in December last year.
“I had been highly motivated to fight Estrada, but I wish to fight on the customary New Year’s Eve and win over Perez very convincingly,” Ioka said at the press conference to officially announce the Perez bout.
“As the defending champion, I have to show that I’m on a different level and win by a landslide.”
New Years Eve boxing has become a tradition in Japan with Ioka being a mainstay of the cards. The bout against Perez will headline the card that will be broadcast live on ABEMA-TV.
Perez is little known to all but the most hardcore of boxing fans. The 28-year-old Venezuelan unsuccessfully challenged WBA flyweight champion Artem Dalakian 22-0 (15) at the Parkovy Convention Centre in Kiev, Ukraine in January 2020. He lost that bout by unanimous decision by scores of 111-117, 110-118 and 111-117.
Perez has since moved up in worked and has worked his way into the WBA rankings where he is listed as the number eight contender. He is riding a three-fight knockout streak against nondescript opposition dating back to his loss to Dalakian. Only one of them had a winning record.
“I’ve been always training to welcome any sudden offer to come and wish to bring the world belt back to Venezuela,” Perez said.
Ioka remains hopeful the Estrada fight can be revisited next year.
“I have a fight that I want to make happen, but I need to win this one first. It goes without saying that I have to remain champion,” Ioka said.
Ioka, The Ring’s number one ranked contender behind champion Estrada, ditched his WBO 115-pound title in order to face Joshua Franco 18-2-3 (8) in June in a rematch of their entertaining majority draw last New Years Eve.
The 28-year-old Franco of San Antonio, Texas came in more than six pounds over the weight limit of 115-pounds for their rematch and lost by unanimous decision before announcing his immediate retirement.
The New Years Eve card will also feature the return of Japanese bantamweight contender Daigo Higa 20-2-1 (18) in a 10-round bout against Thailand’s Navapon Khaikanha 58-3-1 (48).
Higa, 28, is riding a three-fight win streak while the 32-year-old Khaikanha is coming off an 11th round knockout loss to fellow contender Vincent Astrolabio 19-4 (14) in August.