Ioka vs Martinez unification reportedly planned for summer in Japan


Yesterday’s announcement that interim WBA super flyweight champion John “Scrappy” Ramirez will defend his belt against David Jimenez on the April 30th Devin Haney vs Ryan Garcia PPV raised some questions, as recent reports claimed Ramirez was due for his mandated shot at full champion Kazuto Ioka.

Those questions may now be answered, as ESPN’s Fernando Barbosa reports that Ioka will meet IBF champion Fernando “Pumita” Martinez in his native Japan this coming “June or July.”

It’s not the showdown with Juan Francisco Estrada that Ioka (31-2-1, 16 KO) was pushing for, but there’s very little to dislike about this matchup. Martinez (16-0, 9 KO) is an enthralling action fighter even by the division’s sky-high standards, slugging his way past Jerwin Ancajas in back-to-back bouts before overpowering Jade Bornea last June. The one knock on “Pumita” has been inactivity, as he’s fought just four times since 2020, but taking this fight in hostile territory would make up for a multitude of sins.

For those keeping score at home: the WBA and IBF belts would come together around the same time that Estrada defended the WBC belt against “Bam” Rodriguez. With newly crowned WBO champ Kosei Tanaka emerging from last February’s win virtually unscathed, there are a whole lot of very appealing options for the end of 2024. Superfly may be back.

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