By Jake Donovan
Former two-division champ Kazuto Ioka and his team held a press conference Monday afternoon to formally announce his upcoming April 22 title challenge versus long-time titlsit Juan Carlos Reveco of Argentina. The bout will take place at Bodymaker Colosseum in Osaka, Japan.
Reveco (35-1, 19KOs) will travel to Japan for just the second time in his career, with the bout coming just one day shy of his 11-year anniversary in the pro ranks. The previous trek to the Far East resulted in a 12-round win over Masayuki Kuroda in his first official defense as a full flyweight titlist, having reigned as an interim titlist since 2010.
His lone other road trip outside of Argentina came way back in Dec. '07, ending his brief stay as a 108 lb. titlist with a points loss to Brahim Asloum in France.
Ioka (16-1, 10KOs) has already spent more than half of his young career fighting for at least one major belt. The precocious 25-year old claimed his first crown in 2011, knocking out Oleydong Sithsamerchai in five rounds to win a strawweight title in just his seventh pro fight.
The reign was capped with a watershed moment in Japan's rich boxing history, scoring a close-but-clear decision win over Akira Yaegashi in their June '12 war. The bout marked the first time ever that two reigning titlists from Japan met in a unification bout, with Ioka claiming two strawweight belts with the win, but with both fighters abandoning the division soon thereafter.
Ioka went on to enjoy a reign at 108 lb. that was better remembered for whom he didn't face (namely, Roman 'Chocolatito' Gonzalez) than what he accomplished at the weight.
Efforts to become a three-division champ in just 15 career fights instead resulted in a breakout moment for his opponent. Thailand's Amnat Ruenroeng bravely traveled to Japan to put his flyweight title and unbeaten record on the line, outboxing Ioka over 12 rounds though forced to settle for a split decision.
The upset win served as the centerpiece of a Fighter of the Year-worthy campaign for Ruenroeng, who next faces three-time Olympic medalist Zou Shiming this weekend in Macau, China.
Meanwhile, two straight wins have followed for Ioka, includuing 5th round knockout of Jean Piero Perez last December in his fourth consecutive ring appearance on New Year's Eve.
The flyweight title bout will air live on TBS in Japan.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox