WBA super flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka 30-2-1 (15) may not be getting the opponent he wanted, but at least he will be getting in a second fight this year when he defends his title against Josber Perez 20-3 (18) at the Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan on New Year’s Eve.
Japan’s Ioka, 34, was in negotiations to face Ring Magazine and WBC champion Juan Francisco Estrada 44-3 (28) but the 33-year-old Mexican was not happy with the purse on offer and withdrew from negotiations at the 11th hour.
“My team spent a lot of time negotiating persistently with Estrada’s camp, but we were unable to reach an agreement,” Ioka said to The Ring. “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.
“Both my team and Estrada’s camp will continue to have discussions to make this match happen next year.”
Venezuelan Perez, 28, doesn’t have much on his resume to suggest he will be any threat to Ioka.
In his lone world title shot he dropped a unanimous decision to WBA flyweight champion Artem Dalakian 22-0 (15) in February 2020 before moving taking two years off from the sport.
He returned to the ring in February this year with a first-round knockout of Jimmy Vivas who carried a 0-7 record into the bout before moving up in weight in June to knock out Rafael Hernandez 3-6 (1) in the opening round.
In his last outing Perez claimed the Venezuelan 115-pound title with a fourth-round knockout of Jose Farfan 11-4 (9).
Ioka has much to lose and nothing to gain out of this type of matchup. But as the old saying goes, you can only beat who they put in front of you.
“This will be the 12th time for me to have a title match on New Year’s Eve,” Ioka said. “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.”
Perez, who arrived at Japan’s Narita Airport yesterday, is upbeat about his chances.
“I came to Japan in the best condition. I think it will be a great fight on New Year’s Eve. Then I will defeat him by KO and take the belt back to Venezuela,” Perez said to Boxing Beat.
Ioka knows he cannot afford to slip up against Perez and that anything less than a dominant performance will see his stock drop.
“As the defending champion, I have to show that I’m on a different level and win by a landslide,” Ioka said at a news conference in Tokyo last month to officially announce the fight.
“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.”