Ota-City General Gymnasium, Japan
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Bouts 1 - Updated Tue, Jan 02 2024
Kazuto Ioka, known for his annual year-end boxing tradition, will once again defend his WBA junior bantamweight title, but not against the anticipated level of competition. On December 31, he'll face Venezuela's Josber Perez at the Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo, marking his twelfth New Year’s Eve event—a tradition he started in 2011 as a major titleholder. This fight was officially announced during a press conference aired on Abema TV, set to be the final boxing event of 2023. Ioka, a four-division champion, holds a record of 9-1-1 on this particular date, the draw being in his previous attempt to unify the WBO/WBA titles against Joshua Franco last year. In their rematch on June 24, Ioka convincingly outpointed an overweight Franco, who later retired. Despite claiming the WBA belt, Ioka lost the WBO title due to failure to face mandatory challenger Junto Nakatani. While boasting a 7-1-1 record in major title fights at junior bantamweight and a total of 16-2-1 in bouts with primary titles across four weight divisions, Ioka had hoped to unify once more. Initially in talks with Juan Francisco Estrada, the plans fell apart, leading Ioka to seek out another high-caliber opponent. Ultimately, he settled for the available ranked contender, Perez. Perez, with a record of 20-3 and 18KOs, enters his second title fight following an unsuccessful attempt against unbeaten WBA flyweight titlist Artem Dalakian in February 2020. Despite three subsequent wins against lesser opponents, Perez is still chasing his first victory on the road.