Four men have held titles in all four weight classes from strawweight to Jr. bantamweight. Three of them (Roman Gonzalez, Kazuto Ioka, Donnie Nietes) did it in the same generation.
So far, only Ioka and Nietes have squared off. They met at Jr. bantamweight in 2018, competing on narrow terms with Nietes walking away with the split decision victory. Nietes won a vacant WBO belt that day but vacated in pursuit of bigger fights that didn’t come.
Ioka picked up the belt in his second attempt and has won five in a row. Hostilities will resume on:
07/13: 115 - TBRB #3 Kazuto Ioka (28-2, 15 KO, WBO) vs. #10 Donnie Nietes (43-1-6, 23 KO)
Now 40, can Nietes manage one more big win? Is the 33-year old Ioka primed to maintain his hot hand?
Will either ever see Gonzalez to further complete the circle of their unique accomplishments? On paper, Ioka-Nietes II might be the best fight of a month that, despite lots of activity, feels like a bit of a breather. After a flurry of big fights in the first six months of 2022, title action slows considerably as we move towards a fall schedule that could be memorable. The Jr. bantamweights are reliable action battlers but their scrap is unlikely to generate the most attention State-side.
While the press he garners far outstrips his accomplishments so far, there is no doubting the star potential of 23-year old lightweight Ryan Garcia (22-0, 18 KO). A war of words with Saul Alvarez on social media is getting chatter going but like a lot of Garcia’s career so far, it’s not going to result in anything of substance in the ring.
Garcia at least has an intriguing opponent this month. Garcia will face veteran 33-year old Javier Fortuna (37-3-1, 26 KO) on July 16 in one of Garcia’s better tests to date. A win could get Garcia a step closer to fights with lightweight champion Devin Haney or Gervonta Davis.
Another Garcia will be in action before the month is out.
Swift Chases a Third
34-year old Danny Garcia (36-3, 21 KO) has been to the top. His career may have peaked as lineal Jr. welterweight king years ago but he’s never gone away. A brief stint as WBC welterweight titlist made him a player in the higher class and now he’s going after a title in his third division.
Making his first start since a 2020 loss to Errol Spence, Garcia will face Jose Benavidez (27-1-1, 18 KO) on July 30. With a win, could Garcia move quickly up the line for a crack at undisputed Jr. middleweight king Jermell Charlo? His name would certainly make for a lucrative challenge.
Additional Title Fights in July
07/01: 105 - #6 Rene Cuarto (20-2-2, 11 KO, IBF) vs. Daniel Valladares (25-3-1, 15 KO)
07/02: 200 - World Champion Mairis Briedis (28-1, 20 KO, IBF) vs. Jai Opetaia (21-0, 17 KO)
07/09: 126 - #3 Mark Magsayo (24-0, 16 KO, WBC) vs. Rey Vargas (35-0, 22 KO)
07/29: 108 - Yesenia Gomez (19-5-3, 6 KO, WBC) vs. Kim Clavel (15-0, 3 KO)
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.