Kazuto Ioka isn’t done pursuing history.

BoxingScene.com has learned that talks are ongoing for Japan’s Ioka to face Philippines Jerwin Ancajas in a planned WBO/IBF junior bantamweight title unification bout. Should the two sides reach a deal, the bout will take place New Year’s Eve in Japan—a tradition that Ioka has enjoyed nearly every year dating back to 2011.

Ioka has held the WBO junior bantamweight title since a tenth-round knockout of Aston Palicte in June 2019. Ancajas currently serves among boxing’s longest reigning male titlists, having held the IBF 115-pound crown since September 2016 when he outpointed McJoe Arroyo and which he has defended nine times.

If the fight does not happen, both are expected to still make separate title defenses and with Ioka remaining on course to resume his role as a New Year’s Eve headliner. The second-generation boxer—whose father Hiroki was a two-division champion and the first-ever WBC strawweight champ—is Japan’s only male boxer to win titles in four weight divisions, a feat he accomplished in his aforementioned win over Palicte.

Ioka (27-2, 15KOs) denied countryman Kosei Tanaka the same honor, dominating the previously unbeaten three-division champ en route to an eighth-round stoppage last New Year’s Eve in Tokyo. The win—arguably the best of his Hall of Fame-worthy career—marked his ninth appearance atop a show on the year-end holiday, with all but one taking place in Japan.

Following the win, Ioka called for showdowns with the division’s elite—two-division and lineal/WBA junior bantamweight champion Juan Francisco Estrada, former four-division champ Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez and former lineal and two-time WBC junior bantamweight champ Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. His wish was never granted, as Ioka was instead pressed to honor his WBO mandatory versus number-one contender and former strawweight titlist Francisco ‘Chihuas’ Rodriguez, whom he outpointed this past September 1st in Tokyo.

Following the win, ioka renewed his claim to face the best that the division has to offer. To date, the only one to answer the call is the division’s longest reigning titlist.

Ancajas was also among the sport’s more active titlists, enjoying three successful defenses each in 2017 and 2018 before being slowed to just two in 2019 and then sidelined throughout the pandemic. Ancjas returned to the ring this past April, scoring a twelve-round points win over Jonathan Javier Rodriguez in one of the more entertaining battles during his lengthy title reign.

Should the fight come to fruition, a win by Ioka will see him add to his already incredible standing in his home country.

In addition to his title wins in four divisions, Ioka prevailed in the first-ever title unification bout between reigning beltholders from Japan after outpointing Akira Yaegashi in their memorable June 2012 WBC/WBA strawweight title clash. Ioka went on to win the WBA junior flyweight title later that year, before moving up to win belts at flyweight and junior bantamweight.

A win over Ancajas would see Ioka become the first-ever boxer from Japan to become a unified titlist in two weight divisions.

The hope is for the fight to be finalized in time to properly promote it, along with ensuring that there are not any travel issues. Japan’s government continues to enforce strict Covid protocol, including special exceptional exemptions required for travelers from 159 different nations including the Philippines.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox