WBA, WBO Flyweight Title Fight
Kazuto Ioka and Joshua Franco fight for the WBA and WBO flyweight titles on Saturday, and it’s Japanese star Ioka headlining betting boxing markets.
Franco is taking on the challenge of fighting in Japan, which is why bookmakers have him listed as the +115 underdog.
Franco Proving His Worth
Some boxing critics question if Franco is good enough to be considered a world champion. However, he won his WBA title fair and square despite not facing overly strong opposition.
The American is 18-1-2 after beating Andrew Moloney last year, his third consecutive fight against him, winning by unanimous decision.
Our concern with his form is the lack of knockout power. He has only eight wins by knockout, so he’s gunning for a decision victory on Saturday.
It’s also a concern having 16 months out of the ring, so ring rust could be a problem, and Ioka isn’t a fighter he wants to take lightly.
The sportsbook has Franco as the underdog, mainly because of his lack of recent fights. We would have loved to see him have at least one warm-up fight before putting his belt on the line.
Ioka Facing 23rd Title Defense
The 33-year-old Japanese fighter has been defending titles throughout his career. Saturday’s main event will be his 23rd title defense from 31 fights, so he’s accustomed to the pressure.
He commented on the lack of recent fights for Franco but didn’t believe he’s forgotten how to box.
“He has fought in great fights in his career and earned his right to fight in this big unification bout,” Ioka said. “I think for any boxer it is always a challenge when you take long periods off “.
“But we won’t know until he is in the ring how he is going to do. For me, when I came out of retirement, I was in Los Angeles against [McWilliams] Arroyo and remember being really excited. But it took a few rounds to get back. Most of us box [from a] young age so we can’t forget how to box in 16 months. I expect him to be at his best, that is why he is a champion.”
Boxing odds have Ioka at -145 to win. It’s a fair price, given his recent wins over Donnie Nietes and Ryoji Fukunaga. That form should take him close to unifying the titles, and with 15 knockouts from 29 wins, he has more power.
Franco vs Ioka Head-to-Head
This will be the first meeting between Franco and Ioka.
Franco vs Ioka Fight Information
- Fight: Franco (18-1-2) vs Ioka (29-2)
- Location: Ota-City Gymnasium, Tokyo, Japan
- Day/Time: Saturday, Dec 31, 5:00 a.m. ET
- Franco vs Ioka Live stream: Box Live
Franco vs Ioka Betting Lines
Franco vs Ioka Picks & Prediction
We think -145 for Ioka is a fantastic price, and we see late money coming for the local hero.
He has fought more challenging opponents and having the home crowd on his side is an advantage Franco wishes he had.
There is a power difference, and Japanese boxers have been on a tear lately, so Ioka should be winning.
Ioka is listed at -145 in our Vegas boxing lines. This means that if you wager $100 on Ioka, you have a chance to win $69. Franco is +115, offering a chance to win $115 on a $100 wager.
The implied probability attached to the betting lines gives Ioka a 59.18% chance to win, with Franco at 46.51%.