On December 13th the IBF released their updated world rankings. After a weekend to look them over we've decided that we'd make our comments on them on a division-by-division basis starting with the Minimumweight division.
Before starting our review of the IBF rankings we'd first like to explain something. The IBF have several divisions where there is no fighter ranked in the #1 or #2 positions. This happens due to the unique way in with the IBF deal with their top positions. To be ranked in the top 2 positions by the IBF a fighter, according to their rules, needs to win a box off against fighter ranked 3, 4 or 5. It's only via these box offs that a fighter can become an IBF mandatory challenger.
Having just spoken about the #1 and #2 rankings it's worth noting that the Minimumweight division is one of those divisions where no fighter is ranked in the top 2. This means champion Katsunari Takayama has no mandatory challenger to face in the immediate future. The highest ranked fighter is Takayama's compatriot Ryuji Hara (#3) who we feel is not yet ready for a title challenger. The only other Asian fighters ranked by the IBF at 105lbs are Virgilio Silvano (#9), who was recently beaten by Takayama, and Mateo Handig (#11) who controversially beat Takayama back in 2012.
At Light Flyweight John Riel Casimero is given the same freedom as Takayama with no one ranked at either #1 or #2. Asian's that are ranked by the IBF are Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr. (#6), Randy Petalcorin (#9), Jether Oliva (#11), Jonathan Taconing (#13) and Shin Ono (#14). Strangely the IBF list Mauricio Fuentes (#12) as being from the Philippines when he's actually from Colombia.
In the Flyweight division there is again no fighter ranked in the top 2 positions. The highest ranked Asian is Rocky Fuentes (#5) though he is closely followed by Amnat Ruenroeng (#7) and Takuya Kogawa (#10) who are the only other Asians fighters in the top 10. On the verges of a world title fight are Froilan Saludar (#11), Toshiyuki Igarashi (#12) and Masayuki Kuroda (#14). We expect these rankings to change significantly in the next up date with Kogawa suffering a loss to the unranked Suguru Muranaka just a few days ago. Unfortunately it seems to have been a long time since champion Moruti Mthalane last defended his title.
The first division with a #1 challenger is Super Flyweight as Sout Africa's Zolani Tete (#1) is set to fight champion Daiki Kameda. Behind Tete we find a number of Asian fighters with Japanese champion Teiru Kinoshita (#3) and talented Filipino Arthur Villanueva (#4) both holding very high ranking places. Whilst Kinoshita and Villanueva are the only 2 top 10 ranked Asian's the 11-15 places are swept by Asians with Kohei Kono (#11), Go Onaga (#12), Mark Anthony Geraldo (#13), the retired Yota Sato (#14) and Thailand's limited but entertaining Rusalee Samor (#15). We can't understand how Sato is ranked but this is the weird and wacky world of boxing.
Although the IBF's decisions regarding the stripping of Bantamweight champion Jamie McDonnell have been controversial the IBF's rankings don't look the strongest. The highest ranked Asian is Kohei Oba (#6) who is only joined by fellow Japanese fighter Ryosuke Iwasa (#12) in the top 15. These are shockingly poor rankings given the talent at 118lbs but do sum up some of the IBF's weird decisions.
Despite how disappointing things are for Asian fighters at Bantamweight things are a bit brighter at Super Bantamweight where several fighters are ranked. The highest is Nonito Donaire (#3) who is just ahead of Hidenori Otake (#4). Donaire and Otake are joined by Yasutaka Ishimoto (#9) in the top 10 whilst Mike Tawatchai (#12) just misses out on the top 10. A fight between Donaire and IBF champion Kiko Martinez is one that we wouldn't mind seeing.
The Featherweight division has 3 Asian's in the top 15. These are Hozumi Hasegawa (#8), Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo (#9) and Akifumi Shimoda (#14). Of those men we'll admit we'd like to see Chonlatarn against world champion Evgeny Gradovich in what would be a really action packed bout.
At Super Featherweight the only ranked Asian's are the big punching Masao Nakamura (#6) and the limited but teak tough Michael Farenas (#12). It's a slight shock that neither Daiki Kaneko isn't ranked but the Japanese champion would likely know that if he was it wouldn't matter ahead of his WBA world title fight.
In the Lightweight division we again lack a #1 and #2 challenger. The absences of top ranked fighters has left the door open to Dennis Shafikov (#3) to hold a high ranking. Behind Shafikov are two other Russian's with Rustam Nugaev (#9) and Andrey Klimov (#11) who are ahead of Takahiro Ao (#12), IK Yang (#13) and Al Sabuapan (#14). With Shafikov set to fight IBF champion Miguel Vazquez in February it's likely that we'll see huge scale changes in the rankings over the first few months of 2014.
The Light Welterweight division sees only Patomsuk Pathompothong (#13) receiving a ranking whilst Asian's are equally represented at Welterweight where only Yoshihiro Kamegai (#10) is given a ranking. Saying that though we'd not fancy Patomsuk or Kamegai against the IBF champions at their respective weights.
Things don't get any better at Light Middleweight where Charlie Ota (#11) is the only ranked fighter. Unfortunately things just get worse and worse with no one ranked at Middleweight. Thankfully though there is a ranking for Maxim Vlasov (#5) at Super Middleweight.
At Light Heavyweight the only rankings are Dmitry Sukhotsky (#2) and Igor Mikhalkin (#15). Neither are likely to mount a serious challenge to a world champion but both Sukhotsky is certainly a fighter who will likely get a world title somewhere down the line.
All the way up at Cruiserweight we are again lacking #1 and #2 ranked fighters but we do have Grigory Drozd (#3) topping off 3 Russian fighters ahead of Rakhim Chakhkiev (#6) and Alexander Alexeev (#8).
Finally, in the Heavyweight division, there are rankings for Ruslan Chagaev (#3) and Alexander Ustinov (#6). Hard to imagine either man giving Wladimir Klitschko a real test but their high rankings may help them get a notable pay day some where down the line.
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