2023 will ring in with a unification fight for the WBO & WBA bantamweight title between WBO champion Kazuto Ioka (29-2, 15 KOs) and WBA champion Joshua Franco (18-1-2, 8KOs) on Saturday, December 31 at the Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan. The card begins at 5 a.m. ET with the main event expected to begin at 7:30 a.m. ET
There are no broadcasts or streams available in the U.S. or U.K.
Ioka iis -160 on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook. Franco is betting at +125.
Ioka, 33, is hoping to unify all of the bantamweight titles over the next year and wants to start with Franco. He will be making his sixth defense of the WBO bantamweight title, with his most recent defense a successful unanimous decision win over Donnie Nietes on July 13 to avenge a loss earlier in his career. Ioka is an annual attraction on New Year’s Eve in Japan. He has fought on that date for the past 11 years.
Franco, 27, has spent much of the past two years in a trilogy with Australian bantamweight Andrew Moloney. He won the WBA title from Moloney June 23, 2020 in Las Vegas by unanimous decision. The rematch on November 14, 2020 was stopped after an accidental headbutt opened a cut on Franco’s eye. Franco won the third fight by unanimous decision on August 14, 2021. He hasn’t been in the ring since that final Moloney fight, but Franco is fully healthy going into Saturday’s showdown.
Full Card for Kazuto Ioka vs. Joshua Franco
- Main event: Kazuto Ioka vs. Joshua Franco, 12 rounds, for WBO & WBA bantamweight titles
- Hayato Tsutsumi vs. Pete Apolinar, 8 rounds, featherweights
- Ryuto Owan vs. Sukpraserd Ponpitak, 8 rounds, junior featherweights
- Satsuki Ito vs. Wassana Kamdee, 6 rounds, women’s junior bantamweights
- Kentaro Miyamoto vs. Taiga Ito, 6 rounds, junior middleweights
- Akira Nakashima vs. Kantaro Nakanishi, 4 rounds, junior featherweights