Kazuto Ioka and Joshua Franco shared at least two things in common after their first fight last New Year’s Eve.

Both left the ring with their respective junior bantamweight title reigns still intact and they both insisted they deserved the nod over the other.

Their tightly contested WBA/WBO 115-pound unification bout ended in a majority draw last December 31 at Ota-City Gymnasium in Tokyo. Hometown favoritism certainly didn’t apply as Ioka could not pull ahead on any of the three scorecards after twelve rounds. Judges Ferlin Marsh (114-114) and Jose Roberto Torres (114-114) both had the fight even, which left both boxers with their respective title reigns still intact.

Ioka has a simple solution for their second fight.

"The plan is to win by knockout,” Ioka told local reporters at the start of fight week.

Their rematch will once again take place at Ota-City Gymnasium in Tokyo, the seventh straight time that Ioka will headline at the venue. It will be his first without the WBO junior bantamweight title in his possession, as the now former four-division titlist vacated the belt to proceed with the desired rematch in lieu of a mandatory title defense versus countryman Junto Nakatani.

The entirety of Ioka’s reign took place at this location save for his title winning effort, when he knocked out Aston Palicte in their tenth-round of their June 2019 vacant WBO 115-pound title fight in Chiba, Japan.

More bothersome to the 34-year-old is his belief that the judges felt to reward his greater accuracy. San Antonio’s Franco (18-1-3, 8KOs) threw 1,412 punches, while Ioka (29-1-1, 15KOs)—despite attempting more than 600 fewer punches—landed 12 more than his visiting foe over the course of their twelve-round thriller.

The stalemate left Ioka shy of creating more history for his homeland.  He is already Japan’s only male boxer to win titles in four weight divisions and prevailed in the first-ever unification bout between two reigning Japanese titleholders. A win in their first fight would have left Ioka as the only fighter ever from Japan to unify two or more belts in at least two weight divisions.

Naoya Inoue now has a chance to beat Ioka to that mark as the former three-division and undisputed bantamweight champion faces WBC/WBO junior featherweight titlist Stephen Fulton on July 25 at Ariake Arena in Tokyo.

For now, Ioka will settle for becoming a six-time title claimant and two-time junior bantamweight titlist.

“I want to win more clearly this time around,” insisted Ioka.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox