• Kyodo

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WBA flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka will make his third title defense on July 20, when he will face seventh-ranked Keyvin Lara, Ioka’s gym announced Friday.

The 27-year-old Ioka has a 19-1 record with 11 knockouts and is eyeing a title-unification bout — depending on how he fares against Lara.

But the 21-year-old Nicaraguan, a training partner of compatriot and WBC champ Roman Gonzalez, is likely to provide a stern test for Ioka. Lara has rattled off 18 straight wins, including six knockouts, after a defeat and a draw.

“As I always have, I’ll go in to the match highly motivated. I can’t wait for the bout,” Ioka said. “I want to get the title defense out of my way and fight a big match.”

Ioka’s father and gym president Kazunori said he is aware of the Nicaraguan’s capability.

“He (Lara) is rough but strong. He is a worthy opponent.”

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