September 30, 2013

Bantamweights & Below - Boxing's Other Five Weight Divisions Vol. 9

Little Hands of Stone
By Derek "DBO" Bonnett ~ I get asked all of the time why boxing fans don't follow the lightest divisions in the sport from bantamweight on down. My answer to that is, they do ... everywhere except the United States. American boxing fans have not had a lot of exposure to these divisions on network television historically. Plus, recently, the field of competitors has been thin, but it was not that long ago that some of the best fighters in the world such as Jeff Chandler, Orlando Canizales, Johnny Tapia, Danny Romero, Mark Johnson, and, of course, Michael Carbajal were American lighter weight champions who were also hailed as competitors at the top of the sport, not just their division. But, the USA is just one country, albeit one with great influence over the broadcasting of world championship boxing. 

Hawaiian Punch
If you examine the world boxing scene at Bantamweight and Below, you'll find the scene to be very healthy with strong world class presentations from Japan, Mexico, Thailand, Philippines, South Africa, and numerous South American countries. So, why are the Americans not representing in the lightest divisions as well as they have historically? Well, many American sports fans attribute the current heavyweight drought in our country to the NFL and NBA luring our best talent away from boxing. Perhaps since the 2003 release of Seabiscuit, more and more American lighter weight athletes are drawn to becoming ... jockeys. I jest Bantamweight and Below fans, but the drought is very real in these divisions as well; American boxing fans just don't care. This month, I rated the best of the USA from 118 to 105. Presently, the USA has one legit world class fighter from Bantamweight and Below in Brian Viloria. He is headed to the Hall of Fame, in my opinion, and rates at the cusp of all-time great status among little men. After him, the state of the game gets pretty bleak.

World Class Boxing Results at Bantamweight & Below:

On Friday, August 30, at City Hall Ground, Chonburi, Thailand, Wanheng Menayothin won a unanimous decision over Yuma Iwahashi in a twelve round minimumweight bout. Menayothin prevailed by scores of 120-108 twice and 119-109. The Thai-boxer moved his record to 30-0 (10) after scoring his fifth win of 2013. Menayothin held his number five ranking among my top-ranked minimumweight fighters due to activity. However, the Thai contender is in need of a more serious challenge to advance his ranking.

Hernandez does a Big Bang on Kakutani
On Saturday, August 31, at Gimnasio San Juan de la Barrera, Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico, Adrian Hernandez stopped Atsushi Kakutani in four rounds of a WBC light flyweight title bout. The end came at the 1:12 mark. Hernandez defended his title for the third time this year in raising his ledger to 28-2-1 (17). Hernandez remains paralyzed behind Roman Gonzalez in my 108-pound rankings. The Mexican champion is in dire need of a quality challenger in order to not be surpassed by number three Kazuto Ioka.

Also on this date, at Emperor's Palace, Kempton Park, Gauteng, South Africa, Nkosinathi Joyi stopped Benezer Alolod in nine rounds. The end came at 2:48 of the round. Joyi raised his record to 24-2 (17). Alolod fell to 12-5-4 (2). Joyi jumped into my 108-pound rankings for the first time as he competes in a new division. He climbed aboard at number eight. Raul Garcia Hirales and Alberto Rossel each fell one ranking.

On Tuesday, September 3, at Sun Messe Kagawa, Takamatsu, Kagawa, Japan, Rodrigo Guerrero lost a questionable unanimous decision to Daiki Kameda in a twelve round IBF super flyweight title bout. All three judges favored the Japanese fighter by scores of 117-109, 116-110, and 114-112. Kameda raised his ledger to 29-3 (18). Guerrero dropped to 19-5-1 (12). Kameda climbed aboard my 115-pound rankings at number nine. Guerrero exited for the time being.

On Friday, September 6, at NCO Club, Royal Thai Airforce, Bangkok, Thailand, Suriyan Sor Rungvisai stopped late sub Daryl Basadre in six rounds of a bantamweight bout. The stoppage came at the 1:18 mark. Rungvisai raised his dossier to 29-5-1 (12). It was his sixth win of 2013. Basadre dipped to 9-1-1 (6). Rungvisai remained my sixth rated bantamweight. Also on the card, WBC 115-pound king, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai won a decision over Roque Lauro in a six-round bantamweight non-title bout. Rungvisai moved his record to 21-3-1 (19). Lauro fell to 9-16-4 (2).

On Saturday, September 7, in Nuevo Leon, Mexico, Hugo Ruiz captured a majority decision over Julio Cesar Miranda in a twelve round bantamweight bout. The three judges scored the contest 114-114 and 115-113 twice. Ruiz lifted his record to 33-2 (29). Miranda fell to 37-9-2 (29). Ruiz solidified his standing as my fourth best bantamweight.

Igarashi pounds Soto for the KO win
At Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan, Toshiyuke Igarashi moved up in weight to stop Omar Soto in nine rounds of a super flyweight bout. The stoppage came at the 2:32 point. Igarashi won for the first time since losing a portion of the flyweight title in April. His record now stands at 18-2-1 (11). Soto crashed to 23-11-2 (15). Igarashi has been removed from my flyweight rankings for the time being if he plans to pursue further glory at 115-pounds. Juan Carlos Reveco moved from tenth to ninth and Rocky Fuentes stepped back in at ten to fill the void at 112.

At Palenque de la Feria Mesoamericana, Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico, Moises Fuentes blitzed Luis De La Rosa in one round to claim the interim WBO light flyweight title. The end came at the 2:40. Fuentes raised his record to 18-1-1 (9). De La Rosa fell to 22-3-1 (12). Fuentes climbed from seventh to fifth at 108-pounds in my rankings.

On Wednesday, September 11, at Bodymaker Colosseum, Osaka, Osaka, Japan, Kazuto Ioka stopped Kwanthai Sithmorseng in the seventh round of a WBA light flyweight title bout. The end came at the 2:17 mark. Ioka notched the second defense of his title and raised his record to 13-0 (9). Sithmorseng dripped to 43-2-1 (22). Ioka climbed from third to second among my top-rated light flyweights. Also on the card, Ryo Miyazaki retained his title with a majority decision over Jesus Silvestre in a twelve round WBA minimumweight title bout. The scores favored the champion 115-113, 115-114, and 114-114. Miyazaki added his second title defense and remained unbeaten at 20-0-3 (11). Silvestre dipped to 27-4 (20). Miyazaki climbed from seventh to fifth in my strawweight rankings. Wanheng Menayothin and Carlos Buitrago each fell two places. Silvestre kept his number ten ranking with the strong effort. 

Gonzales stays undefeated - #1 at 108 lbs
On Saturday, September 21, at Crown Plaza, Managua, Nicaragua, Roman Gonzalez stopped Francisco Rodriguez Jr. in the seventh round of flyweight non-title bout. The WBA junior flyweight champion was in control, but the stoppage seemed hasty at the 1:10 mark. Gonzalez raised his ledger to 36-0 (30). Rodriguez fell to 11-2 (9). Gonzalez remains the uncontested #1 108-pounder in my rankings.

Also on the card, Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr. stopped Darwin Zamora in seven rounds of bantamweight bout. The former 115-pound champion was recently stripped of his title for failing to make weight. Sanchez raised his record to 17-1-1 (9). Zamora fell to 21-9-1 (18). Sanchez Jr. rose in weight to the bantamweight division and entered my rankings at seven after previously being number one at 115.

Bantamweight & Below Featured Rankings: Best of USA

Viloria is the best of the US at Bantamweight & Below
1.) Brian Viloria (112) 32-4-0 (19) ~ Former WBC and IBF Light Flyweight Champion; Former WBO and WBA Flyweight Champion ~ Best Wins: KO 11 Ulises Solis, TKO 8 Giovani Segura, TKO 10 Hernan Marquez ~ Notable Fact: Viloria has Filipino roots, but was born in Hawaii and represented the USA on the 2000 Olympic Team

2.) Randy Caballero (118) 19-0-0 (11) ~ #1 WBO Bantamweight Contender; #9 IBF Bantamweight Contender ~ Best Wins: TKO 4 Luis Maldonado, UD 8 Alexis Santiago ~ Notable Fact: Caballero is a Nicaraguan-America who was the 2008 USA Amateur Flyweight Champion

3.) Rau'shee Warren (118) 7-0-0 (3) ~ Unranked at Bantamweight ~ Best Wins: TKO 2 Jiovany Fuentes, UD 6 Omar Gonzalez ~ Notable Fact: The three-time Olympian Warren was actually the youngest male of 531 to represent the United States in the 2004 Olympics. He was seventeen.

4.) Qa' id Muhammad (118) 8-0-0 (7) ~ Unranked at Bantamweight ~ Best Wins: TKO Samuel Gutierrez; TKO 3 Steven Johnson ~ Notable Fact: Muhammad was dropped thrice in round three of his last bout with Jamal Parram. He later dropped Parram twice in the fourth and twice in the fifth before winning by TKO in the fifth.

5.) Luis Yanez (115) 7-0-1 (0) ~ Unranked at Super Flyweight ~ Best Wins: UD 6 Jamal Parram, UD 6 Samuel Gutierrez ~ Notable Fact: Half of Yanez' bouts have been split verdicts

Bantamweight & Below: Give That Man a Title Shot! 

Menayothin stays busy and deserves a title shot
Wanheng Menayothin fought five times in 2012 and has already matched that feat in 2013. The Thai-contender has amassed a perfect record of 30-0 (10) and currently holds number one rankings by the WBC and Ring Magazine. He also holds number two rankings by the WBA and WBO. The twenty-seven year old has already captured three minor WBC titles and been the twelve round distance seven times. One of those victories was a 2011 unanimous decision over former world champion Florante Condes, who was still a top-rated contender at the time.

Since then, he is 13-0, but Menayothin has taken a serious step down in class. Some merit is there, but the bulk of this title shot demand is based on activity after breaking into my top-ten at strawweight.

It seems as though the WBC is the most likely title Menayothin will compete for given his experience in WBC minor title bouts, but nothing is set on the horizon. In an era when some of boxing's most recognizable competitors spend too much time on the inactive list, Menayothin's five bouts in nine months is a refreshing trend.

Bantamweights & Below — On the Horizon: 

Is Argentine Juan Carlos Reveco ready to step up?

On Saturday, October 12, at Polideportivo Gustavo Toro Rodriguez, San Martin, Mendoza, Argentina, Juan Carlos Reveco versus Ricardo Nunez in a twelve round WBA world flyweight title bout. One of boxing's protected titlist takes a mild step up in class.

On Saturday, October 19, at Messehalle, Leipzig, Sachsen, Germany, Moruti Mthalane versus Silvio Olteanu in a twelve round IBF flyweight title bout. The inactive champion looks to return to my flyweight rankings with a win over the holder of one of boxing's most deceptive records. 

On Saturday, October 19, at Arena Roberto Duran, Panama City, Panama, Luis Concepcion versus Carlos Ruben Dario Ruiz in a twelve round flyweight bout. The recent Give That Man a Title Shot recipient Conception keeps active in pursuit of that world championship opportunity. On Saturday, October 26, at Cuneta Astrodome, Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines, Jhon Reil Casimero versus Felipe Salguera in a 12-round IBF light flyweight title bout. The exciting champion looks to add his third title defense.

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

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Author's Note: In this month's Featured Rankings, Best of the USA, I attempted a top ten, but the endeavor provided a final product I could not stand behind one hundred percent. So, I cut it down to a top five and found the same result.