Roman Gonzalez (42-0, 36)
Born in Nicaragua though promoted out of Japan it's fair to say the Japanese boxing public have adopted Roman "El Chocolatito" Gonzalez as one of their own, and for good reason. He is everything that appeals to the Japanese boxing fans.
Gonzalez likes to the fight the best. In his 42 bouts he has fought some duds but he has also notched up wins against the likes of Yutaka Niida, Katsunari Takayama, Juan Francisco Estrada and Akira Yaegashi.
Not only does Gonzalez like tests but he also ha a fun style which sees him applying intense pressure, forcing a fight and breaking people down with a combination of power, speed and skill. In many ways he looks unbeatable and he has a solid claim to be one of the elite pound-for-pound fighters on the planet.
Gonzalez recently scored win #42, fighting in Nicaragua for the first time in 14 months, it's now hoped that he will get a major fight in the US with HBO said to be interested in showing him. A great achievement for one of the sports good guys and one of the most exciting young men in boxing.
Up coming challenger
Kazuto Ioka (16-1, 10)
Japan's Kazuto Ioka is one of the sports biggest names, specially in his homeland. He is also a man targeting in history as he continues his pursuit of a Flyweight world title and a chance to claim a third divisional title in what would be a record setting 18 bouts.
Ioka made his name at Minimumweight where he was genuinely brilliant and notched up notable wins over Oleydong Sithsamerchai and Akira Yaegashi, with the win over Yaegashi allowing him to unify the WBC and WBA titles. Since then he has claimed a Light Flyweight title though failed to set the world alight there.
At his best Ioka is an exciting and aggressive fighter with devastating body shots, great skill and speed. At his worst however he's a frustrating counter puncher who looks lost and in fact at Flyweight he simply looks too small and light weight to make the same impact.
It was announced earlier today that Ioka would be fighting WBA champion Juan Carlos Reveco on April 22nd and that is a bout that is mouth watering, to say the least. A loss for Ioka however will serious sting and set his career back in a really big way.
The criminally over-looked
Suguru Muranaka (21-2-1, 7)
The Flyweight division has a lot of "big names" in it and this can crowd out some of the other talented fighters. One of whom is Japanese champion Suguru Muranaka who is everything a fight fan should enjoy with high work rate and a warriors heart.
Muranaka is world ranked by all 4 bodies, he is highly regarded by those in the know though only those in Japan really know about him. Part of that is that he has never once fought out side of Tokyo, despite having been a professional for more than a decade.
In regards to his most notable victories he has a really well fought decision over Takuya Kogawa and a recent stoppage over Masayuki Kuroda. Those have both come in recent bouts with Muranaka finding his way in the sport.
He'll be next seen in the ring on April 8th when he battles Tetsuma Hayashi in a mandatory Japanese title defense. A win there could well help push him towards an OPBF or world title fight by the end of the year. Sadly for Muranaka he would almost certainly need to travel for a top level fight.
The under-rated Champion
Amnat Ruenroeng (14-0, 5)
At the moment Asia only has a single world champion at Flyweight, though it does have a lot of top contender. That champion is Thailand's Amnat Ruenroeng who is one of boxing's more happy stories as he's turned his life around due to the sport.
Amnat was a troublesome youth who found boxing whilst in prison and later became a star of the amateur system. He is now a star in the professional ranks where he has raced to a title.
As a profession Amnat came to the fore last year as he claimed the IBF title with a decision win over Rocky Fuentes and then upset Kazuto Ioka in his first defence of the title. In the ring Amnat is a frustrating fighter to watch due to his ability to spoil, though when on song he does look sensational as a slippery boxer.
Amnat's title is at risk this coming weekend when he attempts to record his third defence. Sadly for Amnat he is viewed as a major under-dog as he fights in Macau against Chinese star Zou Shiming, he is however a capable fighter and has shown his ability to upset fighters whilst fighting on the road.
The true Warrior
Koki Eto (16-3-1, 12)
Asia has a lot of fighters at Flyweight though few give us the excitement and action that Koki Eto provides, win or lose. The 27 year old probably won't have a long career though it will be one of the most fun to follow and will feature more wars and intense battles than many longer careers.
Eto is one of 3 fighters brothers, along with Taiki and Shingo, and appears to be the most exciting by some margin. Sadly he also looks the most defensively flawed and technically lacking. Despite those issues he is simply so much fun and makes every fight a must watch contest. His recent wars with Kompayak Porpramook for the WBA interim title, Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep and most recently Ardin Diale were all FOTY contenders.
In the ring Eto gives away all of his physical advantages to have a brawl. This has seen him depend on his toughness, heart and resiliency, and more often than not they have been enough to see him through to the win.
At the moment Eto is the OPBF champion though he has mentioned vacating the title in pursuit of a world title.
Noknoi Sitthiprasert (52-4, 30)
Thai fighters often have insane records though maybe the most insane is that of Noknoi Sitthiprasert who has turned around a 1-4 start to his career with more than 50 straight wins. In fact he has the longest active winning streak in the sport.
As with many Thai's Noknoi has been facing limited competition. Many of his 51 straight wins have come over inept visitors and novices however he does hold some notable wins including victories over Kenichi Horikawa, Rey Loreto and Donny Mabao. They are the most notable wins though.
In the ring Noknoi is nothing special. His team seem to know it and that is why he's not being matched too hard. He is however world ranked by all 4 bodies who have likely taken note of his streak.
Noknoi, like many fighters featured here, will be in the ring soon. From what we understand it could be this coming Thursday as he takes on yet another inept opponent. Another win there moves him closer to a major bout though it would likely be little more than an eventual cash out for the Thai.
The Pinoy Puncher
John Riel Casimero (21-2, 13)
One of the many Asian contenders is Filipino puncher John Riel Casimero who may well be the most exciting puncher in the division. He's not one of the real stars of the division, in fact he's often fought on the road, but he has a lot to be excited about.
For many Casimero came to their attention just over 3 years ago when he defeated Luis Alberto Lazarte and was engulfed in a riot in Argentina. That win saw him claiming the IBF title at 108lbs. He has since moved to 112lbs and looks to have filled out excellently.
Casimero is a proven road warrior who combines speed and power and has already scored wins over the likes of Lazarte, Cesar Canchila and most impressively Pedro Guevara. He is also on a 7 fight winning streak and at 25 he is just getting better and better.
From what we understand Casimero is the mandatory challenger for the winner of the upcoming bout between Zou Shiming and Amnat Ruenroeng and we dare say he has a brilliant chance against either man, either at home or away. In fact his willingness to travel may well be his biggest strength going forward.
The Chinese Megastar
Zou Shiming (6-0, 1)
Chinese boxing isn't big though is growing, and growing quickly. A lot of that growth is based around 2-time Olympic champion Zou Shiming who has attracted a lot of attention to Macau and the Flyweight division. Sadly however he has been derided by many fans for his "silver spoon" treatment.
As an amateur Shiming was sensational. He was blessed with hand speed to burn, solid skills and a great engine. As a professional his hand speed has remained but he has had to reinvent himself and has had to turn his amateur style into that of a professional, and quickly. In fairness he has impressed at times, though at other he has been frustrating,
Shiming is insanely fast though he's still not fully developed as a "professional". He can sit on his punches but appears happier to slap and move. It's frustrating to watch when he goes back into "slappy mode" but there is a really good boxer in there somewhere.
Shiming will be in action on March 7th as he battles Amnat Ruenroeng for the IBF title. A win will see Shiming grow into an even more significant fighter, a loss however could be a major set back for Top Rank.
The Thai Contender
Nawaphon Por Chokchai (26-0, 19)
Another Thai on a good run is Nawaphon Por Chokchai, the younger brother of Suriyan Sor Rungvisai and a stable mate of Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. He's not as recognised as those two but he is highly tipped to have major success.
At the time of writing Nawaphon's team is trying to arrange a bout with Edgar Sosa to become the mandatory challenger for Roman Gonzalez. Neither of those fights would be easy for Nawaphon but his backers are likely to pull out all the stops to get the bouts in Thailand, a huge advantage,
In the ring Nawaphon does look awfully basic however he often looks several divisions bigger than his opponents. How he makes 112lbs is a real mystery though as long he can make the weight he'll be a problem for many in the division.
We suspect Nawaphon's days as a Flyweight are numbered. He may end up getting a shot at Gonzalez in the near future though after that it wouldn't be a big surprise to see him leap all the way to up Super Bantamweight. From there on things may get tough.
Image of Amnat courtesy of http://www.kiatkreerin.com
Image of Ioka courtesy of http://ameblo.jp/ioka/
Image of Eto courtesy of http://www.zimbio.com
Image of Shiming courtesy of http://www.toprank.com
Image of Muranaka courtesy of http://flash-akabane.com
All other images courtesy of boxrec.com