Naoya Inoue (8-0, 7)
The standout fighter in the division, and it's most notable star by some margin, is 21 year old Naoya Inoue. The youngster from Kanagawa looks to be the fastest rising star in boxing and has all the tools to become a sure fire legend.
Inoue began his career just a few short years ago but became the WBC Light Flyweight champion in his 6th bout and then burst into the Super Flyweight scene with an astonishingly impressive and destructive victory over Omar Narvaez to claim the WBO title. That bout was supposed to be a test but instead it was a launch pad and Inoue now looks set to rule the roost at 115lbs for as long as he wishes.
In the ring there is very little Inoue can't do. He has shown his pressure fighting ability against Jerson Mancio, his boxing ability against Yuki Sano, and his destructive punching against Narvaez. He's got an incredible boxing IQ, thunderous power, lightening speed and scary know-how for a novice who is just getting better fight after fight.
Dubbed "Monster" for his speed and power, it appears Inoue has a really bright future ahead of him and we're expecting his ring return in August as he hunts the first defense of his WBO title
Sho Ishida (18-0, 10)
The Ioka gym has been developing great fighters regularly over the last few years and the next one of those appears to be Super Flyweight Sho Ishida, who has already claimed the Japanese title and scored several wins of note.
At just 23 years old Ishida is still a boxing baby despite having had 18 professional bouts. Fortunately for Ishida those 18 bouts haven't been wasted and he has already notched up wins over Yasuto Aritomi, Petchbarngborn Kokietgym and Yohei Tobe with all 3 of those wins being over-looked by many fans.
In the ring Ishida is a nightmare to fight. He is rangy, tall and fast with a laser guided jab, busy hands and intelligent movement. There are flaws, and he's not the biggest puncher out there but here is developing into an excellent fighter and could well be fighting for a world title by the end of the year.
Although we expect to see Ishida defending his Japanese title in April nothing has been officially announced as of yet. If that bout comes off he will be fighting against Taiki Eto in what is another very credibly contest for the Ioka prospect.
The little Monster
Takuma Inoue (4-0, 1)
Having one Inoue in the division is bad news, having two is frankly horrific, at least if you're a contender in the division. Takuma, still a teenage, has already shown his highly impressive ability and seems like one of the sports few "nailed on future champions".
Although widely known as Naoya's little brother we've been nothing short of amazed by Takuma who appears to have similar skills to Noaya but trades more on his speed and movement rather than power. It's the speed that his seem him box the socks off of Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr and Argentina's Nestor Daniel Narvaes.
Although he's only 19 he's being brought through aggressively under the watchful eye of father-trainer Shingo Inoue and manager Hideyuki Ohashi. Together those two have have taken Naoya to a world title and are likely to do the same to Takuma.
At the moment we're awaiting the announcement of Takuma's next bout, but there is hope it could come in May, or at the very latest August. It's hoped that by the end of the year he will be moving into title fights with an OPBF or Japanese title well within his grasp.
The War Machine
Warlito Parrenas (23-6, 20)
We all love exciting, offensive minded heavy handed fighters who can hurt and be hurt. With that in mind Warlito Parrenas really should be a fan favourite with his offense first mentality that sees him often stopping his opponents, or being stopped whilst he tries.
Aged 31 Parrenas, also known as "WARS Katsumata", began his career in 2007 and after 9 fights he had fallen to a disappointing 6-3. From the however he turned things around and has since gone 17-3 with his losses losses since then coming to solid fighters like Marlon Tapales and Jonathan Taconing.
Parrenas is currently the WBO #1 ranked fighter and is seen as one of the favourites to fight Naoya Inoue later in the year. Based on his style and power he could be a handful for anyone however he has managed to shown more calmness in recent bouts.
We've heard that Parrenas is set to travel to the UK next time out and battle the unbeaten Jamie Conlan in a WBO eliminator. The winner of that would the likely next opponent for Naoya Inoue however we all know how boxing works...
The Weak Link?
Kohei Kono (30-8-1, 13)
It' s a bit unfair to suggest a 2-time world champion is the division's weak link at the top but Watanabe gym fight Kohei Kono is the champion that a lot of contenders seem to be eyeing up their potential route to the top, as fair or unfair as that seems.
Kono's record as a fighter is less polished than some other fighters and the 34 year old "Tough boy" is certainly not an unbeatable phenom. What he is however is a credible and tough champion who hits harder than his record suggest and enjoys a good old fashioned tear up as much as the fans do. Sadly however he's not the sort of fighter who will enjoy a chase and his movement is far from world class.
In the ring Kono has been in with a who's who. Unfortunately that has resulted in losses to Nobuo Nashiro, Tomas Rojas, Yota Sato and Liborio Solis, though he does hold credible wins over Eden Sonsona, Tepparith Kokietgym and Denkaosan Kaovichit. As limited as he is he can still punch with best of them and shouldn't be over-looked by anyone.
We're unsure when Kono will be back in. It was hope he'd be in action in May though WBA have ordered him to fight Koki Kameda while Bob Arum has eyed him as a potential foe for a July fight with Rex Tso.
Eaktawan Mor Krungthepthonburi's (7-0, 6)
Thailand might not have many big name contenders in the division but one man who does look really promising is the unbeaten Eaktawan Mor Krungthepthonburi's who's name might be a mouthful but his ability is outstanding.
Eaktawan only moved over to professional boxing in 2013 and although he's not beaten anyone of major value he has looked very good against the likes of Ichal Tobida, Edison Berwela and Jemmy Gobel. Those opponents have allowed Eaktawan to show off his hand speed and punch variation which have excited us.
We're hoping to see a lot more of Eaktawan over the next 12 months, if he does there's every chance we'll see him in the world rankings by the end of the year. There is however the experience building that needs doing with this youngster who is showing glimpses of brilliants but isn't close to being the complete article.
We're unsure when Eaktawan will be back in the ring but we're hoping to see a lot of him and we're hoping to see him step up a level rather than continue facing journeyman. We know major opponents will be few and far between but we can hope
The unbeaten but inconsistent
Arthur Villanueva (27-0, 14)
One of the many fighters who has been lingering on the verges of a world title fight is Arthur Villanueva, a man who is known as both the "King" and a "Matador" though has at times failed to impress as he has shown up and down form, despite remaining unbeaten.
The 26 year old from Negros Occidental Looked very poor in wins over Fernando Aguilar and Henry Maldonado however eh really last time out as he dominated former world champion Julio Cesar Miranda in one of his stand out performances. It's this inconsistency that makes him frustrating to follow.
When on form the Pinoy fighter looks really good and shows intelligence to his boxing as well as speed, patience, power and technique. He has also shown his heart, having gotten up to win several times. The question, is whether he can do it when he steps up.
We suspect we'll see Villanueva on an upcoming ALA show in the Philippines. It may well be that we see him in a WBO eliminator or going another route to a title fight however at the moment we're unconvinced he could beat any of the champions
The Wild Card
Rey Megrino (21-20-3, 18)
With a sub-500 record Rey Megrino is one of those pesky fighters who you think will be rubbish but turns out to be rather good. In fact had it not been relatively poor management there is a chance that Megrino would have been a real fixture on the world scene.
The 28 year old Filipino is one of the sports most heavy handed fighters and is a real danger man, as shown by the fact that almost 90% of his wins have come inside the distance. He's not the most skilled but's tough, heavy handed and a serious threat to those who just look at his record.
At one point Megrino was 6-8-1 whilst more recently he was 15-20-3. He has, however, rebuilt his career excellently and scored some notable wins in recent years defeating the likes of Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, Kenji Kubo, Myung Ho Lee and Ernesto Saulong.
It was rumoured that Megrino would be in the ring in March though it appears that those plans won't be carried out. Hopefully though it won't be long until the power punching Pinoy is back in the ring and back showing how misleading his record is.
The Thai Destroyer
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (32-4-1, 29)
Active, destructive, aggressive and exciting are all words that spring to mind when talking about Thailand's former WBC champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. He's not the best boxer in the division but he's among best fighters in the sport today.
Srisaket is one of the many fighters under the management of Nakonluang promotions and has managed to really make a name for himself in the last few years. Originally he a very unheralded fighter, in fact he started his career 1-3-1 but has since gone 31-1 with his only loss being a technical decision to Carlos Cuadras in Mexico. Sadly however he only has 1 really big win, his TKO over Yota Sato.
Although Srisaket's record is "padded" with lesser opponents he has shown his ability in the way he mowed through Sato and beat Hirofumi Mukai into submission. He's a nightmare to go up against and in many ways he's like a cruder version of Gennady Golovkin or Roman Gonzalez in that he applies pressure until he breaks his opponents.
The future for Srisaket seems to be about getting himself another show at the WBC title. To do that he will have to get past Jose Salgado in an eliminator which will be announced shortly.
Jerwin Ancajas (22-1-1, 14)
The Philippines has a number of exciting fighters in the division though Jerwin Ancajas is one of the ones that really excites us and at just 23 years old there is a lot to be excited about. We know he's not ready yet but one day he will be.
Blessed with good looks, brilliant combinations, wonderful hand speed, an exciting style and spiteful power there is little to really dislike about Ancajas so far. He still has developing to do and is several years away from his physical prime but he is already showing glimpses of being a world champion,
To date the most glaring result on his record is his loss, a majority decision to Mark Anthony Geraldo, though since then he has rolled off 9 stoppages with two of them coming in Macau where he has managed to really impress. It's those stoppages that have helped him build some real momentum going forward.
It seems likely that Ancajas is going to be moved towards a world title in the next year or two. It won't be immediate but it will come and we may well see him in an eliminator early next year, if not very late this year.
The Experienced Contender
Oleydong Sithsamerchai (55-1-1, 21)
Former WBC Minimumweight champion Oleydong Sithsamerchai has one of the sport's most impressive records and although not a current champion he is one of the many contenders in the talent laden Super Flyweight division.
Like many Thai's Oleydong found himself battle with the scales for much of his career though after suffering his first loss he jumped straight from 105lbs to 115lbs where he has now notched up a number of wins including solid victories over Mark Anthony Geraldo, Ryan Bito, Hiroyuki Hisataka and Giovanni Escaner.
Earlier in his career Oleydong was a big fighter at 105lbs where he won a world title and made 6 world title defenses beating the likes of Eagle Den Junlaphan, Pornsawan Porpramook, Muhammad Rackman and Juan Palacios.
Whilst Oleydong's next fight is unlikely to be a headline bout it's clear his team know that keeping him busy is the key to getting him another world title bout so we're expecting to see him shortly with 3 or 4 bouts, at least, this year.
The Hong Kong Wonder
Rex Tso (16-0, 9)
One of the most exciting men in the division come from the unlikely place of Hong Kong, with many describing him as Hong Kong's only professional fighter. That is Rex "The Wonder Kid" Tso who really is a wonderful fighter to watch.
Tso is a happy go lucky 27 year old who takes his go lucky attitude into the ring and makes for fun to watch contests no matter who he is fighting. He's one of those fighters who could make shadow boxing look enthralling, though he also runs the risk of getting into a tear up with his shadow.
Although Tso is always happy to have a tear up he can actually box, as shown at times in his fight with Ratchasak KKP, though sadly he elects to fight rather than box. That could be his undoing down the line but for now it's going to make him a star in China.
The rumour regarding Tso is that he will be getting a bout with Kohei Kono later in the year. Those plans may need to be delayed for now, with the WBA demanding Kono fights Koki Kameda, but Tso will get a shot sooner rather than later.
The Japanese Renegade-
Koki Kameda (33-1, 18) The oldest of the Kameda brothers is the current #2 WBA ranked fighter in the division and is the mandatory challenger to Kohei Kono with the WBA demanding the two men negotiate or face purse bids in a few weeks time. Kameda's resume is highly impressive with title reigns at Light Flyweight, Flyweight and Bantamweight though he wants a Super Flyweight title to become Japan's first ever 4 weight world champion. Sadly he is a divisive figure, similar to Adrien Broner, with many in Japan turning on him. Among those who have gotten sick of him and his brothers are the JBC who have banned him from fighting in Japan, though he has since made a very powerful ally in the form of Al Haymon who is likely to help make Kameda a big name in the US.
The tricky African champion-
Zolani Tete (20-3, 17) The first of two non-Asian that we're going to mention here is IBF champion Tete who impressed last week when he derailed the hopes of the previously unbeaten Paul Butler in the UK. Tete won the title last year, when he out pointed Teiru Kinoshita, and his fight with Butler was his first defence. Tall, rangy and with an educated southpaw jab Tete is a nightmare to fight and made both Butler and Kinoshita look clueless in their bouts with him. His biggest worry as a Super Flyweight will be out growing the division, a possibility given his frame, but for as long as he can made 115lbs he's going to be an avoided opponent. Most worryingly for his future opponents, he seems happier fighting on the road than he does at home.
The Mexican champion-
Carlos Cuadras (31-0-1, 25) The remaining champion in the division is WBC champion Teiken managed Mexican boxer-puncher Cuadras who won his title last year when he over-came Srisaket Sor Rungvisai via a technical decision. The talented Cuadras is a fighter who can box or brawl, electing to do what suits him best for each fight. Unfortunately for Cuadras recent bouts have been marred with headclashes though it's hard not to be excited when we see Cuadras in the ring. Thankfully we won't need to wait long to see him back in the ring with Cuadras set to fight Luis Concepcion on April 4th in what looks likely to be an absolutely enthralling contest.
Images courtesy of:
Eaktawan Mor Krungthepthonburi's facebook