by Cliff Rold
Just a few months ago, one of Argentina’s finest went on the road to Japan to face an ingénue professional. Omar Narvaez didn’t make it past Naoya Inoue with his title. Kazuto Ioka knows what it’s like to be in Inoue’s shoes. He was the ingénue not long ago. A unified titlist in ten fights; belts in two fights by eleven.
A loss to Amnat Ruenroeng in May 2014 cut off his chances to win a title in his third weight class in his fifteenth start. Wednesday, Argentina’s Juan Carlos Reveco will try to stop him again. Reveco’s WBA title isn’t the ‘real’ WBA title.
That belongs to unified titlist Juan Francisco Estrada.
The victor will celebrate with that meaning little to them. If this fight is as good as it looks on paper, everyone who sees it will have cause to celebrate too. This has the makings of an early fight of the year candidate in boxing’s deep, thrilling Flyweight division.
Let’s go the report card.
Juan Carlos Reveco
Title: WBA Flyweight (2011-Present, 8 Defenses)
Previous Titles: WBA Light Flyweight (2007, 1 Defense)
Hails from: Las Heras, Mendoza, Argentina
Record: 35-1, 19 KO
Rankings: #3 (BoxingScene, BoxRec), #4 (ESPN), #5 (Ring), #6 (TBRB)
Record in Major Title Fights: 8-1, 5 KO (14-1, 8 KO including interim title fights)
Current/Former World Champions Faced: 1 (Brahim Asloum L12)
Previous Titles: WBC Minimumweight (2011-12, 3 Defenses); WBA Minimumweight (2012); WBA Light Flyweight (2012-14, 3 Defenses)
Hails from: Osaka, Japan
Record: 16-1, 10 KO
Rankings: #7 (BoxingScene), #9 (TBRB, Ring)
Record in Major Title Fights: 8-1, 5 KO
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 3 (Oleydong Sithsamerchai TKO5; Akira Yaegashi UD12; Amnat Ruenroeng L12)
Pre-Fight: Speed – Reveco B+; Ioka B+
Pre-Fight: Power – Reveco B; Ioka B+
Pre-Fight: Defense – Reveco B+; Ioka B+
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Reveco A; Ioka A
This should be a very good fight between two fighters with complimenting styles. Both can crack enough to keep the other man honest, go to the body well, and have effective defense. Reveco can fight going forward or back, often preferring the latter and letting taller men come into his wide right over the top. Ioka is the straighter shot and has the edge in height.
That could be a big edge.
Ioka has an educated jab and good head movement. If he is patient, Reveco will have to press more and that will favor the home turf man. We saw last year that Ioka can be outboxed by the right fighter, but there aren’t many with a style like Ruenroeng. Reveco is more orthodox and he exciting in his approach.
In terms of intangibles, both have lots in the bag. Neither has been stopped and both have battled through some tough stuff. Ioka’s unification win at 105 versus Yaegashi was thrilling stuff. Reveco was in the best action fight at Flyweight last year against Felix Alvarado. Reveco’s lone loss, to former Olympian Brahim Asloum, was some eight years ago.
Both men have been winners. Is this Reveco’s breakthrough win on the world stage or does Ioka retrack his still very promising career?
The thinking here is that the longer Ioka has a match he has to feel good about. Reveco will struggle with his jab and Ioka’s crisper shots will beat Reveco to the target. Both men are going to wake up sore the next day but it will be Ioka with a new belt after a hard fought decision.
In addition to the preview for the big mid-week show, here’s a look back at an excellent battle last Saturday.
Matthysse-Provodnikov: Post Report Card
Pre-Fight: Speed – Lucas Matthysse B; Ruslan Provodnikov B-/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Power – Matthysse A; Provodnikov B/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Defense – Matthysse B; Provodnikov B-/Post: B; C+
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Matthysse A; Provodnikov A/Post: Same
It’s unlikely to be recalled as a classic years from now. While it might have been the best fight of the year to date, it’s unlikely to hold that honor at year’s end. What looked like a savage war going in turned out to be just a really, really good fight.
That’s good enough.
Provodnikov remains what he has been for years: one of the most dependable television fighters of the last half-decade or so. He is always must watch; a gutsy overachiever with a chin that makes Tex Cobb wince. His rally in the late rounds Saturday, despite a bad cut, is why he’ll remain welcome on any network until his body gives out.
The rally wasn’t enough to overcome one of the best performances of Matthysse’s career. He boxed beautifully, maybe losing only one of the first eight rounds. There were some close frames but Provodnikov only appeared to win round four clearly. Matthysse turned out to have a solid speed edge and his jab and right hand put in work.
Matthysse also showed big guts. There were moments, in the fourth and down the stretch, where he appeared mentally as well as physically taken aback. He dug in and stemmed the tides, keeping his feet when rocked and never letting it slip away.
It’s hard to say what’s next for either man. Matthysse-Terrence Crawford, for the belt Crawford won Saturday at 140 lbs., sounds like a great place to start.
Report Card and Staff Picks 2015: 22-6 (Including Staff Picks for Chavez-Fonfara and Crawford-Dulorme)
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]