The World Boxing Organization (WBO) has ordered the much-awaited rematch between reigning super-flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka and four-division world titlist Donnie Nietes.
The title fight was formally ordered Friday, April 1 which will serve as another encounter for the two boxing stars since slugging it out on New Year's Eve of 2018.
"Please be advised that the WBO World Championship Committee is hereby ordering the commencement of negotiations for the subject matter bout,” said Luis Batista-Salas, chairman of the WBO Championship Committee in a letter as quoted by BoxingScene.
WBO has given both boxers 30 days upon issuance of the letter to negotiate and reach an agreement.
"If an accord is not reached within the time frame set forth herein, purse bid proceedings will be called per WBO Regulations of World Championship Contests," the statement added.
After beating Ioka nearly more than three years ago, Nietes had opted to vacate the belt months later which eventually paved the way for the Japanese boxer to take the WBO super-flyweight belt against Filipino Aston Palicte in June 2019.
Nietes and Palicte faced each other in September 2018 but the match ended up with a draw before the man nicknamed "Ahas" scored a split decision win over Ioka.
Ioka has since then defended the WBO strap four times with the latest against compatriot Ryoji Fukunaga last New Year's Eve.
The 33-year-old Japanese star was initially set for a unification match against former IBF titleholder Jerwin Ancajas but the bout was scrapped as the Japanese government implemented stricter foreign protocols due to the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
Nietes, for his part, returned to action in 2021 after a two-year hiatus.
The Negros Occidental native earned unanimous decision win over Pablo Carillo in April before settling for another draw against Norbelto Jimenez in December 2021 to retain the WBO International junior-bantamweight belt.
Nietes, who is now part of Probellum Promotion, holds a 43-1-6 record on top of 23 knockouts while Ioka has 28 wins built on 15 KOs with two losses. ###