Kazuto Ioka’s unanimous-decision victory over an overweight Joshua Franco to regain a 115-pound title on Saturday wasn’t enough to lift him from Honorable Mention into the Top 15 here.
However, it underscores the Japanese fighter’s staying power.
Ioka won his first world title as a 108-pounder in 2011 and has worn one belt or another almost continuously since then, making him one of the most consistent boxers in the world.
Ioka (30-2-1, 15 KOs) is undefeated (6-0-1) since he lost a split decision to Donnie Nietes in 2018, a setback he avenged last year.
And, even at 35, there is more to come. The victory over Franco, who came in six-plus pounds over the limit, sets up potential fights with fellow titleholders Juan Francisco Estrada, Fernando Martinez and Junto Nakatani or several other big-name junior bantamweights.
The resident of Tokyo might be the underdog against some of the top 115-pounders but don’t be surprised if he ends up with his hand raised. If he’s anything, he’s a winner.
And that could mean he would crack the Top 15 at an age when many fighters are finished.
Next pound-for-pounder up: No. 2 Naoya Inoue will challenge 122-pound titleholder and Honorable Mention Stephen Fulton Jr. on July 25 in Japan.
Here’s what the list looks like at the moment:
- Terence Crawford – Scheduled to face No. 4 Errol Spence Jr. for the undisputed 147-pound championship on July 29.
- Naoya Inoue – Scheduled to challenge 122-pound titleholder and Honorable Mention Stephen Fulton Jr. on July 25 in Tokyo.
- Oleksandr Usyk – Reportedly set to defend his three heavyweight titles against Daniel Dubois on Aug. 26 but no announcement has been made.
- Errol Spence Jr. – Scheduled to face No. 1 Terence Crawford for the undisputed 147-pound championship on July 29.
- Dmitry Bivol – No fight scheduled.
- Tyson Fury – No fight scheduled.
- Juan Francisco Estrada – No fight scheduled.
- Canelo Alvarez– Reportedly in talks to defend his undisputed 168-pound championship against 160-pound titleholder Jermall Charlo on Sept. 16 but no deal has been reached.
- Jermell Charlo – No fight scheduled.
- Gervonta Davis – No fight scheduled.
- Vasiliy Lomachenko – No fight scheduled.
- Artur Beterbiev – Scheduled to defend his 175-pound titles against Callum Smith on Aug. 19.
- Shakur Stevenson – No fight scheduled.
- Roman Gonzalez – No fight scheduled.
- Devin Haney – No fight scheduled.
Honorable mention (alphabetical order): David Benavidez (reportedly in talks to face David Morrell in October but no deal is in place); Jermall Charlo (reportedly in talks to challenge 168-pound champion Canelo Alvarez on Sept. 16 but no deal has been reached); Stephen Fulton Jr. (scheduled to defend his 122-pound title against No. 2 Naoya Inoue on July 25 in Tokyo); Kazuto Ioka (no fight scheduled); Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez (scheduled to face Sunny Edwards in a 112-pound title-unification bout in December).