Both World Boxing Organization super flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka of Shisei Boxing Gym and second-ranked challenger Francisco Rodriguez Jr. of Mexico both cleared the weigh-ins on Aug. 31 for their title match on Sept. 1 at Tokyo’s Ota-City General Gymnasium.
The scheduled 12-rounder will be held behind closed doors due to COVID-19 state of emergency placed by the Japanese government.
The 32-year-old Ioka weighed in at the class limit of 52.1 kgs (115 lb), while the second-ranked Rodriguez tipped the scales at 51.7 kgs (114 lb).
After the weigh-ins, Ioka, who is making his third defense of the title he captured in June 2019, held a press conference online and said, ‘’I am in a tip-top shape since I have spent a lot of time reducing my weight.’’
When asked about Japanese amateur boxers’ success in the just-ended Tokyo Olympics, Ioka replied, ‘’(Japanese) amateur boxers’ meritorious success boosted the popularity of boxing. Since I was inspired by them, I think it’s my turn to give back to them.’’
‘’Considering the current circumstances (of rampant COVID-19), I think I will thank people who have made it to realize the fight. I will do the kind of the fight people will get something by seeing the fight,’’ Ioka added.
Meanwhile, the 29-year-old Rodriguez, a former WBO and International Boxing Federation minimumweight champion, also appeared fine as he said, ‘’Mexican boxers fight with their heart. We are warriors. I have practiced what I had to do to win.’’
Ioka, who has won world titles in four different weight divisions as the only Japanese to do so, has a 26-2 win-loss tally with 15 KOs. Rodriguez has a record of 34 wins, including 24 knockouts, against four losses and a draw. He has been continuing 15 straight wins.
The Tokyo Broadcasting System Television (TBS) will televise the fight nationwide from 9 p.m. with Tokyo Olympics women’s featherweight gold medalist Sena Irie expected to serve as a special guest. (Photos by Shisei gym)