With the focus switching to boxing outside of the UK this weekend, I take a look at four fights that are must see across two continents. With Ioka, Adames, Lubin, and Martinez all in action, it promises to be a great week.
Joshua Franco vs Kazuto Ioka
Joshua Franco and Kazuto Ioka will meet again for the WBA Super Flyweight title, in Tokyo on Saturday. A rematch of their much debated draw on New Years Eve 2022.
Franco has had an intriguing career so far, spanning 23 bouts. The older brother of Jesse Rodriguez, took his first career defeat in March of 2018 against Lucas Fernandez. Franco then moved to Bantamweight bouncing back with an impressive stoppage win before one of the most bizarre sequences in recent years. Franco fought Oscar Negrete in October 2018 for the NABF title.
This bout ended in a split draw, so naturally the pair met again 5 months later. Franco would come out on top in a controversial decision win, so the third fight was made. The third fight again ended in a Split Draw in August of 2019.
A bizarre instance of a trilogy ending in two draws, however the next phase of Francos career would prove even more astounding. In June 2020 he upset the unbeaten Andrew Moloney and won the WBA Regular title, he then rematched Moloney, ending via 2nd round No Contest due to a head clash.
He would then beat Moloney in a trilogy bout in August 2021. Injury and promotional politics kept franco out the ring up until his last bout with Ioka. This means that after this weekend Franco would have fought 4 opponents over 9 fights since 2018. With two trilogies and one rematch.
Kazuto Ioka is a living legend in the sport of boxing, having held world titles in every division from Minimumweight to Super Flyweight, and only holding two defeats to world champions, one of which he avenged. Ioka will look to right the wrong of the draw against Franco.
Its harsh to say someone who recently vacated a title is in a must win fight, but should Ioka want to unify the division with Japanese superstar Junto Nakatani, he must beat Franco, as at 34 years of age, he is certainly in the twilight of his career.
Fernando Martinez vs Jade Bornea
IBF Super flyweight champion Fernando Martinez will make the 2nd defence of his crown against the unbeaten Jade Bornea in Minneapolis on Saturday.
Martinez beat established champion Jerwin Ancajas to win the title in February last year, then beat the Philipino again in October to properly establish himself amongst the elite at 115lbs. He will now defend against IBF mandatory Jade Bornea. Martinez had a rather quiet career before facing Ancajas, fighting mainly in Argentina. The Ancajas fight finally gave him mainstream exposure on Showtime, and now it looks like ‘Pumito’ will be a regular feature on the platform.
This will help the Argentine push for big fights against Jesse Roriguez, Roman Gonzalez, Juan Estrada, Junto Nakatani, and the winner of the other Super Flyweight title fight on Saturday between Kazuto Ioka and Joshua Franco.
Borneo is a relative unknown challenger, securing his position by winning the NABF title in in 2020. He has spent most of his career campaigning in his homeland of the The Philippines. With 12 stoppage wins he has demonstrated ability to hurt opponents and Saturdays bout will almost guarantee fireworks.
Erickson Lubin vs Luis Arias
Erickson Lubin and Luis Arias will thrown down on Saturday in a cross roads fight at light middleweight.
Lubin was extremely highly rated coming through as a professional, as often the case with Cubans, but he was brought back down to earth in his first and only title opportunity against Jermell Charlo, being stopped in 1 by the now undisputed champion in 2017.
‘The Hammer’ then went on a good streak, with impressive wins against Terrel Gausha and Jeison Rosario. Last time out Lubin had a fight of the year contender against Sebastian Fundora, ultimately he came up short, but showed he belongs at world level.
Luis Arias has been a nearly man throughout his career, with close and controversial points losses to Vaughn Alexander and Luke Keeler, as well as taking Danny Jacobs the distance, he holds a good level of ability, especially at 154lbs as opposed to 160lbs.
With a win propelling both men into championship contention, and a loss potentially signalling the end of road, both men will lay it all down in an explosive firefight.
Carlos Adames vs Julian Williams
WBC interim champion Carlos Adames will defend his title against former unified light middleweight champion Jullian Williams on Saturday.
With the winner likely being elevated to full champion due to the absence of Jermall Charlo, this fight will be crucial in the middleweight landscape in the coming years.
Adames’ only career loss came to former WBO light middleweight champion Patrick Teixeira in 2019, and he has bounced back after his move to 160lbs with wins over Sergiy Derevyanchenko, and Juan Macias Montiel, to win the title.
‘JRock’ won unified titles at 154lbs with a massive upset victory over Jarrett Hurd in 2019. A remarkable victory against a previously unbeaten champion. He lost the WBA and IBF belts in his first defence against Jeison Rosario however.
Having previously lost to Jermall Charlo, a win on Saturday could set up a potential rematch against the full champion, or the chance for Williams to win a title in his second weight class.