Kazuto Ioka insists he’s on a different level to Francisco Rodriguez Jr, targets Jerwin Ancajas

Kazuto Ioka insists he’s on a different level to Francisco Rodriguez Jr, targets Jerwin Ancajas Kazuto Ioka, No. 10 in The Ring's P4P rankings, finishes Kosei Tanaka in dramatic fashion. Photo by Naoki Fukuda 30 Aug by Anson Wainwright Highly skilled boxer-puncher Kazuto Ioka will make the third defense of his WBO junior bantamweight title against mandatory challenger Francisco Rodriguez Jr. at the Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo on Wednesday. Ioka, who is rated No. 3 by The Ring at 115 pounds, openly admits that he isn’t too familiar with his Mexican opponent. “I’m not sure what will happen until I’m in the ring,” said the Japanese star who has held world titles in four divisions. “[Rodriguez] has lots of experience, which is a big component to fighting in a championship contest. He has been a champion at strawweight and I think he is skilled as well. “I will show him the power I have in the ring. I don’t think I will allow him to do anything to me and [I will] prove to him that I am at a different level as a champion.” The 32-year-old Ioka was rightfully lauded for his comprehensive eighth-round demolition of the previously unbeaten three-weight world titleholder Kosei Tanaka in December. That triumph catapulted him into The Ring Magazine’s mythical pound-for-pound list at No. 10. “To receive recognition as [a] pound-for-pound [fighter] worldwide meant a great deal to me as far as respect,” said Ioka. “I still have goals to gain more recognition in the world, there is much more to achieve. My goal is to unify the belts.” Ioka (26-2, 15 knockouts) would like to test his mettle against the likes of Ring Magazine, WBA and WBC titleholder Juan Francisco Estrada, the legendary Roman Gonzalez or two-time 115-pound beltholder Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. However, he’s aware that the trio is in the midst of a series of fights and that he’ll have to wait patiently for his opportunity. “I can only control my own destiny,” Ioka said. “The plan is to win this fight, then hope for a unification fight with the IBF champion [Jerwin Ancajas.]” Rodriguez, who is rated No. 7 at 115 pounds, lost to future hall-of-famer Roman Gonzalez (TKO 7) early in his career. However, that setback proved to be a valuable learning curve and he bounced back to defeat Merlito Sabillo (TKO 10) for the WBO 105-pound title before adding the IBF belt in a unification bout with Katsunari Takayama (UD 12). The Mexican soon moved up to junior flyweight but lost back-to-back decisions to Donnie Nietes (UD 12) and Moises Fuentes (SD 12) in 2015. He has since moved up in weight again and is currently on a 15-fight win streak that includes wins over former titleholders Hernan Marquez (KO 3) and Oswaldo Novoa (UD 10). Now 28, Rodriguez had been due to face countryman Julio Cesar Martinez for the WBC flyweight title late last year. Martinez, however, was injured and the bout was called off. The challenger’s record is 34-4-1 (24 KOs). Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright GET THE LATEST ISSUE AT THE RING SHOP (CLICK HERE) or Subscribe Share this story Ratings | View All Top 6 Pound for Pound 1 2 3 4 5 6 Trending Conor Benn primed for rescheduled Adrian Granados clash Francisco Rodriguez Jr: I have the key to beat Kazuto Ioka Kazuto Ioka insists he’s on a different level to Francisco Rodriguez Jr, targets Jerwin Ancajas Katie Taylor: I’m going to hold on to every one of those belts for as long as I can Jake Paul better rethink Canelo Alvarez after a split-decision against Tyron Woodley Schedule | View All 04Sep Mauricio Lara vs. Josh Warrington; Katie Taylor vs. Jennifer Han (DAZN) 10Sep Oscar Valdez vs. Robson Conceicao (ESPN+) 11Sep Oscar De La Hoya vs. Vitor Belfort (Fite.tv) Instagram Facebook RingTV Official Product Shop Now!

Kazuto Ioka insists he’s on a different level to Francisco Rodriguez Jr, targets Jerwin Ancajas

Kazuto Ioka insists he’s on a different level to Francisco Rodriguez Jr, targets Jerwin Ancajas

Highly skilled boxer-puncher Kazuto Ioka will make the third defense of his WBO junior bantamweight title against mandatory challenger Francisco Rodriguez Jr. at the Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo on Wednesday.

Ioka, who is rated No. 3 by The Ring at 115 pounds, openly admits that he isn’t too familiar with his Mexican opponent.

“I’m not sure what will happen until I’m in the ring,” said the Japanese star who has held world titles in four divisions. “[Rodriguez] has lots of experience, which is a big component to fighting in a championship contest. He has been a champion at strawweight and I think he is skilled as well.

“I will show him the power I have in the ring. I don’t think I will allow him to do anything to me and [I will] prove to him that I am at a different level as a champion.”

The 32-year-old Ioka was rightfully lauded for his comprehensive eighth-round demolition of the previously unbeaten three-weight world titleholder Kosei Tanaka in December. That triumph catapulted him into The Ring Magazine’s mythical pound-for-pound list at No. 10.

“To receive recognition as [a] pound-for-pound [fighter] worldwide meant a great deal to me as far as respect,” said Ioka. “I still have goals to gain more recognition in the world, there is much more to achieve. My goal is to unify the belts.”

Ioka (26-2, 15 knockouts) would like to test his mettle against the likes of Ring Magazine, WBA and WBC titleholder Juan Francisco Estrada, the legendary Roman Gonzalez or two-time 115-pound beltholder Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. However, he’s aware that the trio is in the midst of a series of fights and that he’ll have to wait patiently for his opportunity.

“I can only control my own destiny,” Ioka said. “The plan is to win this fight, then hope for a unification fight with the IBF champion [Jerwin Ancajas.]”

Rodriguez, who is rated No. 7 at 115 pounds, lost to future hall-of-famer Roman Gonzalez (TKO 7) early in his career. However, that setback proved to be a valuable learning curve and he bounced back to defeat Merlito Sabillo (TKO 10) for the WBO 105-pound title before adding the IBF belt in a unification bout with Katsunari Takayama (UD 12).

The Mexican soon moved up to junior flyweight but lost back-to-back decisions to Donnie Nietes (UD 12) and Moises Fuentes (SD 12) in 2015. He has since moved up in weight again and is currently on a 15-fight win streak that includes wins over former titleholders Hernan Marquez (KO 3) and Oswaldo Novoa (UD 10).

Now 28, Rodriguez had been due to face countryman Julio Cesar Martinez for the WBC flyweight title late last year. Martinez, however, was injured and the bout was called off. The challenger’s record is 34-4-1 (24 KOs).