April 24, 2013

Bantamweights & Below - Boxing's Other Five Weight Divisions Vol. 4

New Flyweight Champion Juan Francisco Estrada
By Derek "DBO" Bonnett ~ April has been a stellar month for fans of boxing's smallest divisions, particularly at flyweight. Title fight upsets were abound and each of my divisional ranking from bantamweight and below saw some major reshuffling of the deck. In total, four belts changed hands and five upsets took place. Included in this myriad of divisional uproar is a leading contender for Upset of Year.

Also included in this muddle of miniscule action, China's amateur standout Zou Shiming debuted as a professional with a four round win over Mexico's Eleazar Valenzuela. Shiming won each of the four rounds without question, but his amateur style of fighting was still present as he slapped with his punches rather than turning each one over. His offense left his chin exposed for a more seasoned professional to take advantage of as he progresses the ranks of the pros. Although unranked, Shiming's career is certain to be guided with considerable speed toward a world title opportunity. However, the world's top flyweights pose a considerable threat to Shiming's success and how he adapts from the amateur game to the professional ranks will make for some noteworthy action from bantamweight and below.

World Class Boxing at Bantamweight & Below:

On Friday, March 29, at Thungsimuang, Udon Thani, Thailand, Oleydong Sithsamerchai scored a seventh round TKO over Richard Garcia in a super flyweight bout. Sithsamerchai fought for the third time in ninety days and raised his record to 47-1-1 (17). Garcia fell to 24-15-1 (6). Sithsamerchai remained ranked number six among my top super flyweights. In the eyes of the WBC, the Thai contender has moved from third to second and eyes a possible showdown with champion, and my top-rated super flyweight, Yota Sato later this year.

Also on the card, Wanheng Menayothin captured a unanimous six round decision over Sammy Hagler in a strawweight bout. Menayothin won for the second time in 2013 to keep his unbeaten record intact. His dossier now holds at 27-0 (8). Hagler fell to 15-14-2 (3).Menayothin jumped from sixth to third with the activity, but mostly due to some serious attrition in the division which occurred the following day. The WBC rates Menayothin second and the WBO has him at third. Higher profile bouts with Xiong Zhou Zhong and Merlito Sabilla could help Menayothin validate his high standing in the division.

  Takayama slays Dragoncito
On Saturday, March 30, at Estadio de Beisbol, Guasave, Sinaloa, Mexico, the unlikely run of Mario Rodriguez came to an end against Katsunari Takayama in a twelve round IBF minimumweight title bout. Rodriguez took a five fight win-streak straight to knocking off the then top strawweight in the world in Nkosinathi Joyi. Takayama claimed the title by unanimous decision with scores of 119-109, 117-111, and 115-113. Takayama had failed in his previous five world title attempts. He now becomes a two-time champion having previous reigned from 2004-2005. His dossier now stands at 25-6 (10).

Rodriguez falls to a deceptive 15-7-4 (11). The future may present a rematch opportunity for Takayama and Rodriguez. I scored their first fight a draw and the two wide scores were truly a case of ineffective aggression being greatly rewarded over effective, but lower volume punching.

Also on the card, Raul Garcia dropped a split decision to Pedro Guevara in a twelve round light flyweight bout. The cards favored Guevara narrowly by two counts of 115-113, 114-113, and a dissenting third margin 113-114. Guevara previously lost a split decision to IBF champion Jhonreil Casimero in his last fight. His ledger improved to 19-1-1 (13). Garcia, who has had seven split verdicts in his career, dipped to 33-3-1 (21). Once again, a rematch between the two is highly warranted. Guevara climbed from tenth in my light flyweight rankings to sixth. Garcia fell from sixth to seventh. Casimero climbed from fifth to fourth based on a residual impact of his previous win. Donnie Nietes fell from fourth to fifth combined with this movement and his recent draw with Moises Fuentes. The previously ranked seven through nine contenders each fell one spot.

Estrada pulls off an early Upset of the Year candidate
On Saturday, April 6, at Venetian Casino & Resort, Macao, Macao S.A.R, China, Brian Viloria fell victim in an Upset of the Year candidate. Juan Francisco Estrada won a split decision in a twelve round WBA/WBO flyweight title bout to claim his first titles. Estrada won with scores of 117-111 and 116-111. The third judge favored Viloria 115-113. Estrada raised his ledger to 23-2 (18). Viloria dropped to 32-4 (19). This bout currently top my candidate lists for both Fight and Upset of the Year.

Estrada crashed the flyweight rankings by claiming the top spot without previously being ranked. There was a harbinger of Estrada's rise. In his two losses, Estrada pushed current 108 and 115-pound champions Roman Gonzalez and Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr. to the limit before losing competitive decisions. Viloria fell from first to second. Juan Carlos Reveco was pushed out of the top ten to accommodate Estrada. The previously ranked two through nine contenders fell one ranking.

Also on the card, Milan Melindo stopped Tommy Seran in four rounds of a flyweight bout. Melindo dropped Seran in the first, second, and fourth rounds. The stoppage came at the 2:38 mark. Melindo raised his record to 29-0 (12). Seran fell to 23-2 (14). Melindo fell from third to fourth among my top flyweights due to Estrada's emphatic entrance. However, last month's Give That Man a Title Shot recipient is ranked number one by the WBO and could be matched with the new champion later this fall.

On Sunday, April 7, at Bodymaker Colosseum, Osaka, Osaka, Japan, Koki Kameda won a split decision over Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym in a twelve round WBA bantamweight title bout. The judges allowed Kameda to keep his belt by scores of 115-114, 114-113, and 113-116. Kameda made the sixth defense of his title and raised his dossier to 30-1 (17). Kaiyanghadaogym (formerly Kratingdaenggym) dipped to 36-2 (19).

Kameda's number three ranking in my bantamweight rankings is on shaky ground following back to back split verdicts. Kameda arguably lost to Hugo Ruiz as well two fights back, but without a ranked number one WBA contender listed Kameda may be able to pick and choose his way around his top ten.

Also on the card, the upset bug bit Sonny Boy Jaro against Hiroyuki Hisataka in a ten round flyweight bout. Hisataka won by scores of 98-94, 98-94, and 96-94. Hisataka raised his record to 22-10-1 (10). Jaro fell to 34-12-5 (24). Hisataka remained unranked in my flyweight standings. Prior to this win, he was also unranked at flyweight by the major organizing bodies. With the loss, Jaro fell out of my flyweight top ten. Giovani Segura re-entered at number nine after deciding to settle back at flyweight.

Also on the card, Denver Cuello defeated Takashi Kunishige by majority decision in a ten round light flyweight bout. The scores were tallied at 95-95, 97-92, and 96-93. Cuello lifted his ledger to 33-4-6 (21). Kunishige fell to 24-9-2 (2). Cuello fought above strawweight for the second consecutive time. He retains his number one ranking, but may soon be moved up a division in my rankings. Cuello is ranked number one at 105 by the WBC and WBO as well. The WBA ranks him fifth at 108-pounds. I'd like to say a world title fight for Cuello is just around the corner, but he is easily among boxing's most feared contenders.

Shinsuke Yamanaka downs Malcolm Tunaco in Japan
On Monday, April 8, at Kokugikan, Tokyo, Japan, Shinsuke Yamanaka scored a twelfth round TKO of Malcolm Tunacao in a WBC bantamweight title bout. The challenger was down twice in the third and again in the twelfth. The stoppage came at the 1:57 mark. Yamanaka notched the third defense of his title and bolstered his dossier to 18-0-2 (13). Tunacao fell to 32-3-3 (20). Yamanaka moved from second to first among my top bantamweights. Anselmo Moreno fell from first to second.

Also on the card, Toshiyuki Igarashi was upset by Akira Yaegashi in a twelve round WBC flyweight title bout. The former WBA minimumweight titlist won by unanimous scores of 117-108, 116-109, and 115-110. Yaegashi raised his record to 17-3 (9) and became a two-division champion. Igarashi dipped to 17-2-1 (10). Yaegashi, recently removed from the 105 pound rankings, debuted at number seven among my top flyweights. Igarashi fell from seventh to tenth, pushing Rocky Fuentes out of the top ten. Luis Concepcion and Giovani Segura each climbed one ranking.

On Saturday, April 14, at Arena Roberto Duran, Panama City, Panama, Luis Concepcion scored a sixth round TKO of Anuar Salas in a flyweight bout. Salas hit the canvas in the first round and three more times in the sixth. Concepcion was decked in the third. The end of the contest came at the 2:36 mark. Concepcion raised his dossier to 28-3 (21). Salas fell to 13-2 (10). Concepcion held down the number eight spot in my flyweight rankings. Concepcion is ranked as high as number two by the WBC. Given his fan friendly style replete with big power and vulnerability, a match with newly crowned Yaegashi could make for a dark horse candidate for 2013 Fight of the Year.

Also on the move, Juan Hernandez, previously ranked seventh among my top strawweights, has been dropped due to a rise in weight. After winning his fourth bout above 105, Hernandez has campaigned above strawweight for well over year. Presently, he is unranked. Merlito Sabillo replaces him in the top ten at number ten. Hekkie Budler, Carlos Buitrago, and Xiong Zhou Zhong all advanced one ranking. Giovani Segura was removed from my super flyweight rankings to campaign fully as a flyweight. Denkaosan Kaovichit returned to the top ten in the tenth spot.

Bantamweight & Below Featured Rankings: Flyweight (112 lbs.)

1. Juan Francisco ~ Estrada Mexico 23-2-0 (18) WBO/WBA
2. Brian Viloria ~ USA 32-4-1 (19)
3. Moruti Mthalane ~ South Africa 29-2-0 (20) IBF
4. Milan Melindo ~ Philippines 29-0-0 (12)
5. Hernan Marquez ~ Mexico 34-3-0 (25)
6. Edgar Sosa ~ Mexico 48-7-0 (29)
7. Akira Yaegashi ~ Japan 17-3-0 (9) WBC
8. Luis Concepcion ~ Panama 28-3-0 (21)
9. Giovani Segura ~ Mexico 29-2-1 (25)
10. Toshiyuki Igarashi ~ Japan 17-1-1 (10)

Bantamweight & Below: Give That Man a Title Shot! 

Edgar Sosa has been there before. After a two and a half year reign as WBC junior flyweight champion, Sosa challenged Pongsaklek Wonjongkam for the WBC flyweight championship in 2011. In spite of losing a clear decision to the first ballot Hall of Famer, Sosa remained high in the rankings of the WBC. In the past twelve months, Sosa has won a unanimous decision over top-ranked Wilbert Uicab to pick up minor WBC belts to enhance his ranking.

Edgar Sosa trains hard in hopes of another title shot
However, just last month, Sosa avenged two previous defeats to highly regarded two-time champion Ulises Solis by scoring a serious contender for KO of the Year in two rounds. The bout was billed as a title eliminator, so it should produce a match-up with newly crowned Akira Yaegashi of Japan. Given their varying styles, it should make for an intriguing match-up. Sosa was also rumored to be facing Giovani Segura next, but nothing appears set in stone. The two were scheduled to meet back when Sosa was champion at 108. In addition to Uicab and Solis, Sosa also holds professional victory over Brian Viloria from back in 2007 to claim the then vacant WBC junior flyweight title.

Bantamweights & Below: On the Horizon:

On Friday, May 3, in Si Sa Ket, Thailand, Yato Sato versus Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in a twelve round WBC super flyweight title bout; Pungluang Sor Singyu versus Frederix Rodriguez in a twelve round bantamweight bout; Suriyan Sor Rungvisai versus Edison Berwela in a six round bantamweight bout. Also in Grenada, Nicaragua, Carlos Buitrago versus Yader Escobar in a ten round junior flyweight bout. On Monday, May 6, at Ota-City General Gymnasium, Tokyo, Japan: Kohei Kono versus Liborio Solis in a twelve round WBA super flyweight title bout. On Wednesday, May 8, at Bodymaker Colosseum, Osaka, Osaka, Japan: Kazuto Ioka versus Wisanu Kokietgym in a twelve round WBA junior flyweight title bout.

On Friday, May 10, at Wat Punoi, Ban Mi, Thailand: Tepparith Kokietgym versus Jecker Buhawe in a twelve round super flyweight bout. On Saturday, May 11, in Toluca, Mexico, Mexico: Adrian Hernandez versus Yader Cardoza in a twelve round WBC junior flyweight title bout. On Saturday, May 11, at Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster, Yorkshire, United Kingdom, Jamie McDonnell versus Julio Ceja in a twelve round vacant IBF bantamweight title bout.

On Saturday, May 25, at Estado Luna Park, Buenos Aires, Distrito Federal, Argentina: Omar Andres Narvaez versus Daniel Rosas in a WBO super flyweight title bout. Also, in Zihuantanejo, Guerrero, Mexico: Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr. versus Roberto Domingo Sosa in a twelve round IBF super flyweight title bout. Also on Saturday, May 25, at Polideportivo Espana, Managua, Nicaragua: Roman Gonzalez versus Gerardo Verde in a ten round flyweight bout.

Written by Derek "DBO" Bonnett - exclusively for KO Digest 

You can also find more of Derek's work on SecondsOut.com 

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