Weigh-in Alert: Joshua Franco loses WBA belt on the scales ahead of Kazuto Ioka rematch
Ahead of Joshua Franco’s eagerly anticipated rematch with Kazuto Ioka, the America failed to make the junior bantamweight limit of 115-pounds, coming in well over weight at 121.5 pounds. He has been stripped of the WBA title and only Ioka, who tipped the scales at 114.75 pounds, can claim the title.
Franco shockingly missed weight by a whole division. He was given two hours to lose some weight but he only lost 200 grams. The fight will still take place tomorrow at the Ota-City Gymnasium, Tokyo.
It’s interesting that despite the large weight disparity the JBC have allowed the fight to go ahead. At the time of writing there was no report as to how much of his purse Franco would forfeit, but you would expect there was some agreement and also to what Franco could weigh for the fight.
Clearly something didn’t go as planned for Joshua. Will the weight be too much for the local hero to overcome or will be able to use it to his advantage? This is another wrinkle, albeit unwanted, to this already intriguing matchup.
In the first fight which took place on New Years Eve the two fought to a hotly contested 12-round draw.
Franco (18-1-3, 8 knockouts), The Ring’s No. 4-rated junior bantamweight, turned professional in 2015. The Texan was highly regarded before being upset by Lucas Fernandez (L TKO 9) in March 2018. He became more battle-hardened, sharing 30 grueling rounds with Oscar Negrete (D 10, SD 10 and D 10).
That experience served the 27-year-old well when he beat Andrew Moloney two out of three times (UD 12, ND 2, UD 12). As WBA “regular” titleholder (a title unrecognized by The Ring), he waited patiently to face Estrada but when that didn’t happen, the WBA stripped the Mexican and promoted Franco to full titleholder. He snapped a 16-and-a-half-month hiatus to face Ioka last time out.
Ioka (29-2-1, 15 KOs), The Ring’s No. 2 rated junior bantamweight, claimed titles at strawweight and junior flyweight. The Japanese standout lost for the first time to IBF flyweight titleholder Amnat Ruenroeng (SD 12). Unperturbed, he rebounded to best Juan Carlos Raveco (MD 12) to win the WBA belt in that division. He made five defenses, including a rematch victory over Reveco (TKO 11), then shockingly retired from the sport in 2017.
However, following a 17-month layoff, Ioka returned at junior bantamweight in search of more glory. He lost a WBO title bout to Donnie Nietes (SD 12) but stopped Aston Palicte (TKO 10) for the very same belt after Nietes vacated. Now a four-weight world titleholder, Ioka, 34, made five successful defenses, notably stopped Kosei Tanaka (TKO 8) before dominating Nietes (UD 12) in a rematch. He vacated his title instead of facing his mandatory so he could face Franco again.
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