|Bantamweight & Below Fighter of the Year Juan Francisco Estrada|
Unfortunately, most of the world class boxing action between 118 and 105 pounds is not readily available on ESPN, HBO, or Showtime. So, the results section and calendar of upcoming bouts are valuable mediums for me to communicate what's important to readers and fans. Additionally, each month I have featured rankings with a myriad of intentions ranging from divisional standings to the best of a particular nation to those with the most dynamite in their fists. This month, please enjoy my take on the Pound For Pound landscape at Bantamweight and Below. Starting next month, readers can look forward to divisional rankings from a historical or all-time perspective. This was something the readers at KO Digest decided for themselves and this monthly feature will do its best to satiate that desire. These rankings made for interesting talking points in 2013 and I expect that to carry into the New Year. Also in this volume, you will see the Bantamweight and Below Year End Awards. These customary distinctions tend to end up in the hands of larger weight fighters or fighters with greater exposure on network television. Here the little guys will get their just due. Furthermore, you will receive an update on the fighters seen as most deserving of title shots from the Give That Man a Title Shot category. Lastly, you will find a section devoted to various Talking Points of the year. These were topics which did not necessarily fit into the results listings, rankings, or title shot candidates, but were worthy boxing headlines.
You can expect additional surprises from the 2014 volumes. Happy Holidays from Bantamweight and Below.
Bantamweight and Below Year End Award Winners:
Fight of the Year: Giovani Segura KO12 Hernan Marquez
|Marquez and Segura went to war in 2013|
Each lion must have sensed his last kill might be presenting itself to him as they warred for the better part of twelve rounds. Segura dropped Marquez in rounds four, eleven, and for the finish in the twelfth. Late in the fourth, amid a series of torrid exchanges Marquez seemed to be getting the better of, "Tyson" was dropped by a Segura overhand right. Marquez acquitted himself quite well with crisp counters and power punches of his own, but it was Segura who would not be denied. The difference in their ability to take shots cemented the verdict in this one. That, and Segura's ruthless commitment to the body. Segura showed more versatility in his punch selection than in recent memory. Round eleven was Round of the Year quality as both men let their hands fly, taking turns turning each other's head. However, it was Segura who also worked in time for a basement level attack and he put Marquez down after a barrage of body shots along the ropes. The fight effectively ended then and there as Segura finally broke an exhausted Marquez. A left hook finished a spent Marquez at the 2:59 mark of the final stanza in Bantamweight and Below's 2013 Fight of the Year.
Knockout of the Year: Edgar Sosa KO2 Ulises Solis
|Sosa scores the Bantamweight and Below KO of the Year|
A jubilant Sosa circled the ring after the bout was waved off. He finished his year outpointing Segura and losing a decision to Akira Yaegashi in a flyweight title bout. It was his early magic against Solis which earned him credit for Bantamweight and Below's Knockout of the Year.
Upset of the Year: Srisaket Sor Rungvisai TKO8 Yota Sato
|Rungvisai celebrates his big upset of Sato|
Sor Rungvisai, giving up four and a half inches in height, did well to negate Sato's height and reach with a high-pressure attack to the champion's torso. When Sato was not pinned along the ropes, he was forced to use his legs more than usual to retreat by circling the ring. Sato attempted to fight at long range, but was forced to do so out of range. The extra distance depleted his attack and left him reaching for fear of sampling the Thai-challenger's dynamite. As Sato slowed, he was drawn into fighting Sor Rungvisai's fight, which furthered his undoing as the mighty challenger raked him with powerful hooks to the body and head. With his head hanging over his knees and his movement sloppy, Sato was pinned to the ropes for one final barrage in the eighth round where the champion was stopped on his feet at the 1:26 mark. From nowhere to the top of the super flyweight division, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai had a breakout year in 2013. He fought and won seven times this year with five non-title wins, his title-winning KO of Sato, and a first defense of the WBC crown against Hirofumi Mukai. Coming out of obscurity to KO the highly regarded Sato is what earned Srisaket Sor Rungvisai the distinction of Upset of the Year at Bantamweight and Below.
Comeback Fighter of the Year: Akira Yaegashi
|Comeback of the Year fighter Akira Yaegashi|
Bantamweight and Below 2013 Fighter of the Year: Juan Francisco Estrada
|Juan Francisco Estrada had a great 2013|
He’s very good. My edge over him in this fight will be my experience."
However, after twelve hard-fought, but seemingly decisive, rounds, Estrada was awarded the split verdict by margins of 117-111, 116-111, and 113-115. The bout was an early candidate for Fight of the Year and, because of Viloria's previous three outings, Upset of the Year. Estrada, 23, came into the bout on the heels of a competitive unanimous decision loss to Roman Gonzalez in 2012, which spoke volumes about "El Gallo" as a fighter.
In Estrada's first defense, he took on previously unbeaten Milan Melindo, who rated among the sport's most deserving title challengers. Melindo fought extremely well, but was faced with an even more improved version of Estrada, who won a unanimous decision. Estrada shut down Melindo's best weapon with educated footwork and eventually broke through to score a knockdown late in the fight. The action resembled another Fight of the Year effort, but the scoring lopsidedly favored the champion 118-109, 118-109, 117-109. Boxing fans should have high hopes for the possibilities Estrada has opened up for himself in 2014. Most likely, we'll see him defend against fellow countryman Giovanni Segura, who had an excellent second half of 2013. Also, Roman Gonzalez has followed Estrada up to flyweight and a monumental rematch could be brewing for 2014. The immediate future is bright for Bantamweight and Below's 2013 Fighter of the Year.
Bantamweight and Below Talking Points of 2013:
The biggest talk in 2013 at Bantamweight and Below did not always come from the best of boxing's littlest practitioners. Several names became serious talking points in the sport of boxing for various boxing-related achievements or distinctions. Benchmarks aren't titles, but sometimes they can carry historical significance or their weight in gold.
|Boxing's history making Kameda brothers|
Ali Raymi is a loud-talking, unbeaten, forty year old minimumweight contender whose reputation appears to be supported more by shadow and light than reality. Raymi appeared on the boxing radar in 2013 as he neared Tyrone Brunson's benchmark of nineteen successive first round knockout victories. Brunson previously dethroned Edwin Valero for this honor in 2008. Raymi scored sixteen first round KOs in 2013 to go along with his four in 2011 to raise the current bar to twenty. Raymi's feat was also achieved against only unbeaten fighters or fighters making their debut; he has never faced a fighter with a defeat. With that said, Raymi never has ventured out of his native Yemen, which apparently now dabbles in boxing along with salmon fishing. Raymi attempted to lure Samson Dutch Boy Gym out of retirement for a battle of unbeatens, but the Thai boxer, 41 and eleven years retired, could not gain clearance into Yemen for the bout.
"5'3" by 39 kills better than a much heavier hammer," Raymi told KO Digest earlier this year in regard to his power and thoughts about moving up in weight."The problem with smaller guys moving up, is they gain more weight. It's like adding a lot of weight to the bullet, it makes it heavier, but slower and weaker at one point."
|Shiming was one of the key Talking Points in 2013|
Bantamweight and Below: Give That Man a Title Shot!
Of the eleven boxers we have highlighted this year on KO Digest for their title shot merits, only three have received a crack at one of the various world title crowns in 2013. Of those three, none were able to unseat a reigning champion.
In June, Denver Cuello suffered a torn rotator cuff in the opening round of his WBC minimumweight title bout against Xiong Zhao Zhong. The Chinese world champion dominated the one handed Cuello for twelve rounds in spite of the close majority verdict. Zhong retained the title by scores of 115-112, 113-110, and 113-113. Cuello's future in the sport remains uncertain as he had yet to return to the ring following surgery. If he returns, it will almost certainly be above 105 pounds.
|Melindo (R) against Estrada|
Just this month, Edgar Sosa saw his Fighter of the Year hopes dashed by Akira Yaegashi in a hotly contested WBC flyweight match-up, which, again, appeared much closer than the actual scoring. Yaegashi controlled the distance and used uncharacteristically effective foot work to defeat Sosa, who countered effectively in combination. The 117-111, 117-111, and 116-112 unanimous decision went to the champion, but Sosa still remains in the mix at 112 with wins over Ulises Solis and Giovani Segura in the same year.
Pedro Guevara also won three bouts in 2013. It would be unlikely that he does not receive a title fight in 2014 given his narrow 2012 loss to John Riel Casimero for the IBF belt and his claiming the WBC silver title in 2013. "My first fight I did in the year was the best for me (SD 12 Raul Garcia), because in the fight I had to win the silver flyweight title against an opponent who was also being favored," Guevara told KO Digest in summation of his year and future plans. "[Garcia was a] champion of the world and ranked among the best. In 2014, I'm supposed to fight for the world championship. Much has been said about it. I'm ranked at number four by the WBC. So, I just waiting for fight against Adrian Hernandez."
|Segura (R) stops Gonzalez|
Hekkie Budler won three times in 2013. His third victory, a fourth round TKO of Hugo Hernan Verchelli earned him the WBA interim minimumweight title, which should ensure he gets a crack at WBA boss Ryo Miyazaki, should be retain his title against Fahsan Sakkreerin on December 31.
Luis Concepcion thrice won in 2013, but, in spite of his explosive style, he seems among the least likely candidates to get another crack at a world title. His big punch is something a champion may want to avoid and his weaker opposition is not enough to force them into fight negotiations. However, when does matchmaking ever truly follow logic like this?
Moises Fuentes went 3-0-1 in 2013. He started his year with Bantamweight & Below Robbery of the Year against Donnie Nietes. He went on to score his three wins and picked up the interim WBO title, which almost guarantees a rematch with Nietes or a shot at the vacated title should he refuse in 2014.
Carlos Cuadras fought only once, but has one more bout scheduled for December 31. The Mexican power puncher is rumored to be in line to meet Srisaket Sor Rungvisai for the WBC super flyweight title in February 2014.
This battle of power-punchers is a must see match-up.
Two other fighters highlighted on KO Digest in 2013 had good years. Thailand's Oleydong Sithsamerchai and Wanheng Menayothin each went 6-0 this year, but neither has a scheduled world title fight on the horizon.
Bantamweight and Below Featured Rankings: Pound for Pound
|El Chocolatito is #1 P4P|
2.) Shinsuke Yamanaka (118) 20-0-2 (15) ~ WBC Bantamweight Champion ~ Best Win: UD12 Vic Darchinyan ~ Best Possible Match-Up: Anselmo Moreno
3.) Juan Francisco Estrada (112) 25-2-0 (18) ~ WBO/WBA Flyweight Champion ~ Best Win: SD12 Brian Viloria ~ Best Possible Match-Up: Roman Gonzalez rematch
4.) Anselmo Moreno (118) 34-2-1 (12) ~ WBA Bantamweight Champion ~ Best Win: UD12 Vic Darchinyan ~ Best Possible Match-Up: Shinsuke Yamanaka
5.) Kazuto Ioka (108) 13-0-0 (9) ~ WBA Light Flyweight Champion; Former WBA/WBC Minimumweight Champion ~ Best Win: UD12 Akira Yaegashi ~ Best Possible Match-Up: Adrian Hernandez
|Budler is #6 P4P|
7.) Akira Yaegashi (112) 19-3-0 (9) ~ WBC Flyweight Champion; Former WBA Minimumweight Champion ~ Best Win: UD Edgar Sosa ~ Best Possible Match-Up: Giovani Segura
8.) Edgar Sosa (112) 49-8-0 (29) ~ Former WBC Light Flyweight Champion ~ Best Win: KO2 Ulises Solis ~ Best Possible Match-Up: Brian Viloria Rematch
9.) Brian Viloria (112) 32-4-0 (19) ~ Former WBO/WBA Flyweight Champion and WBC/IBF Light Flyweight Champion ~ Best Win: KO11 Ulises Solis ~ Best Possible Match-Up: Edgar Sosa Rematch
10.) Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (115) 22-3-1 (20) ~ WBC Super Flyweight Champion ~ Best Win: TKO8 Yota Sato ~ Best Possible Match-Up: Omar Andres Narvaez
|Narvaez is #14 P4P at Bantamweight and Below|
11.) Giovani Segura (112)
12.) Adrian Hernandez (108)
13.) John Riel Casimero (108)
14.) Omar Andres Narvaez (115)
15.) Liborio Solis (115)
Written by Derek Bonnett - exclusively for KO Digest
Find more of Derek's writings at www.SecondsOut.com
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