By Jake Donovan
A busy stretch for the World Boxing Organization (WBO) team extends through mid-week and all the way down to the super flyweight division.
BoxingScene.com has learned that the Puerto Rico-based sanctioning body has ordered a mandatory title fight between reigning 115-pound titlist Kazuto Ioka and top-rated challenger Jeyvier Cintron. The two sides were contacted on Wednesday, with instructions to begin a 30-day free negotiations period between their respective promoters.
Ioka is represented by TLARock Entertainment (with Tom Loeffler's 360 Promotions also serving as his promoter in North America). Cintron is co-promoted by Top Rank, Inc. and Puerto Rico Best Boxing Promotions.
In the event a deal cannot be reached, the matter will head to a purse bid hearing which will be scheduled for the first week of September. Either side can request to go straight to purse bid at any time during the 30-day window.
Ioka (24-2, 14KOs) made history for his native Japan, becoming the nation’s first-ever male boxer to capture a major title in four weight divsions. The feat was accomplished this past June, scoring an emphatic 10th round stoppage of Philippines’ Aston Palicte in their vacant title fight in Japan.
The belt was previously vacated by Donnie Nietes, who himself became a four-division titlist after scoring a narrow 12-round decision win over Ioka last New Year’s Eve in Macau, China. The Filipino veteran opted to pass on a rematch with countryman Palicte, whom surfaced as his mandatory challenger following a 2nd round knockout of Juan Jose Martinez in January.
From there came the opportunity for 30-year old Ioka to strengthen his case as a future International Boxing Hall of Fame candidate. Previous title reigns were enjoyed at flyweight, junior flyweight and strawweight, having won his first belt in just his seventh pro fight.
Three defenses came of his reign, which closed out with a thrilling 12-round win over countryman and fellow strawweight titlist Akira Yaegashi. The June 2012 event marked a watershed moment, serving as the first-ever title unification bout between reigning titlists from Japan.
Cintron (11-0, 5KOs) hasn’t even come close to accomplishing as much but comes in with history of his own. The unbeaten 24-year old is Puerto Rico’s lone ever two-time Olympian, with the Bayamon native representing his boxing rich island in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.
Just over two years into his pro career, he now competes for his first major title.
The opportunity comes courtesy of a 10-round win over former flyweight titlist Koki Eto earlier this month in Kissimmee, Fla. The title eliminator came just 10 weeks after the two fought in the very same venue, with Cintron suffering a controversial 1st round knockout that was changed to a No-Contest after replays revealed a headbutt causing his fall.
A second chance at a lasting impression proved fruitful for Cintron, whom dropped Eto in the 2nd round of their Telemundo-televised rematch en route to a landslide win.
The latest ordered fight is the third in a span of just over 24 hours for the WBO. As previously reported by BoxingScene.com, the sanctioning body also called for a mandatory title fight to take place between unified titlist Jose Ramirez and England’s Jack Catterall at super lightweight, and a vacant featherweight title between unbeaten American contenders Shakur Stevenson and Joet Gonzalez.
All three ordered bouts carry a deadline for the same time in September.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox