By Jake Donovan
Kazuto Ioka hope the second’s time a charm at becoming a three-division titlist.
The former strawweight and junior flyweight beltholder gets another chance at claiming flyweight hardware when Argentina’s Juan Carlos Reveco takes his act on the road for their title fight April 22 in Ioka’s hometown of Osaka, Japan.
Confirmation of the fight came from the World Boxing Association (WBA) who recognizes Reveco as its flyweight champion.
Reveco (35-1, 19KOs) makes the seventh true defense of his title since being upgraded from interim to full title status in Feb. ’13. His most recent performance was perhaps his best in years, stopping former interim beltholder Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep in five rounds last December, coming on the heels of an impressive 12-round win over Felix Alvarado in June.
The bout with Ioka marks just Reveco’s second trip to Japan and third overall outside of the Americas. His previous trip to Japan was a decision win over Masayuki Kuroda in his first official fight as full WBA titlist. The lone other fight abroad for Reveco took place in France, with his junior flyweight title reign coming to an end following a competitive but clear points loss to local favorite Brahim Asloum in Dec. ’07.
Ioka (16-1, 10KOs) took the boxing world by storm early in his career, capturing his first major title in just his 7th pro fight. A 5th round stoppage of Oleydong Sithsamerchai in Feb. ’11 ignited a strawweight reign that was capped by a decision win over Akira Yaegashi in their bloodsoaked June ’12 thriller. The bout marked the first-ever unification bout between reigning titlists from Japan, with Ioka claiming two belts at strawweight before moving up in weight.
His run at junior flyweight didn’t carry quite as much appeal, beginning with a 4th round stoppage of fringe contender Jose Rodriguez on New Year’s Eve 2012. The reign—which lasted one full year and capped by his own win over a then-unbeaten Alvarado the following New Year’s Eve—was tainted by his failure to secure a showdown with Roman Gonzalez, with both holding separate versions of the WBA 108 lb. title before Gonzalez moved up in weight.
An attempt to win titles in three weight classes all within his first 15 fights ended in despair, dropping a split decision to Amnat Ruenroeng in their battle of unbeaten flyweights last May. The bout was far less competitive than the final scores suggested, with Ruenroeng enjoying success on the road in a fight recognized as the centerpiece of a Fighter of the Year-level 2014 right campaign.
Two wins have followed against pedestrian competition for Ioka, who turns 26 in March.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox