By Marcus Bellinger
When the World Boxing Super Series concept was announced earlier this year there was a mixture of excitement, scepticism and intrigue from fans and media. The 2 8 man line-ups at cruiserweight and super middleweight began in September and are scheduled to finish in May 2018. So far both tournaments have provided some memorable knockouts and a consummated structure which doesn’t exist in the rest of the boxing world and the semi-finals have thrown up some eagerly anticipated bouts for early 2018.
Attention has already turned to possible future WBSS events with various weight classes being kicked around amongst online chatter. Welterweight and featherweight have proved popular choices with both possessing plenty of star power but one division that would really benefit from such a platform is light flyweight. Like the cruisers, 108 lb is often ignored by the majority but has plenty of talent, depth and variety and it would also give the handlers of the World Boxing Super Series a chance to branch out into Asia. Here’s what a potential light flyweight WBSS might look like of course starting with the 4 current world champions.
Ken Shiro 11-0 5 KOs WBC champion.
Out of the BMB Gym, Shiro is part of the new wave of exciting Japanese boxing talent and after capturing WBC Youth, Japanese and OPBF straps it was time to see if he could conquer the world stage in 2017. The 25-year-old faced then champion Ganigan Lopez in May and prevailed over 12 rounds in a closely contested bout. Another Mexican came next as Shiro took on Pedro Guevara on 22 October in his first defence. After being behind Shiro rallied and showed excellent stamina in the championship rounds to take a majority decision and keep his title and unbeaten record intact. Next up is a rematch with Lopez which could take place in the spring of 2018.
Kosei Tanaka 10-0 6 KOs WBO champion.
Tanaka was tipped for big things from the off and stopped then unbeaten Ryuji Hara in 10 rounds in October 2014 to claim the OPBF 105 lb belt in just his 4th professional contest. After outpointing Julian Yedras for the vacant WBO strawweight title in just his 5th contest and making one defence Tanaka moved up 3 pounds having outgrown the minimumweight class. He produced a blistering display to destroy Moises Fuentes in 5 rounds on the last day of 2016 to win the vacant WBO light flyweight crown. A unanimous verdict over Angel Acosta came in May and then the 22-year-old climbed off the floor to eventually stop Palangpol CP Freshmart in 9 rounds in September. Tanaka suffered orbital fractures to both eyes in the fight with Palangpol so won’t return until next year.
Milan Melindo 37-2 13 KOs IBF champion.
After coming up short in 2 world title fights at the hands of Juan Francisco Estrada and Javier Mendoza the Filipino’s career threatened to be one of unfulfilled potential. The 29-year-old received a crack at the interim IBF strap at home against Fahlan Sakreerin Jr in November 2016. Melindo won a unanimous decision and now had a guaranteed shot at full champion Akira Yaegashi. He produced a defining performance to stop Yaegashi inside a round in May and the career revival was now complete. In his first defence Melindo ground out a split decision over Hekkie Budler in September and came through some bad cuts in what was a highly entertaining encounter. A rematch with Budler was ordered by the IBF but isn’t expected to occur until 2018 due to the injuries sustained by the champion.
Ryoichi Taguchi 26-2-2 12 KOs WBA champion.
In his nearly 3 year reign as world champion consistency has eluded Taguchi somewhat but on his day the 30-year-old is a hard man to beat given his height and reach. He produced an excellent performance to hammer mandatory challenger Robert Barrera in 9 rounds in July and was assured in defeating forma 105 lb titlist Ryo Miyazaki via unanimous decision last August. On the other hand unknown Carlos Canizales gave the champion all sorts of problems in their 2016 New Year’s Eve clash with the pair eventually battling to a split draw. Victories over Juan Jose Landaeta, Luis de la Rosa and Kwanthai Sithmorseng did little for his reputation but Taguchi is still one of only 2 men to have heard the final bell against formidable super flyweight king Naoya Inoue.
Ganigan Lopez 28-7 17 KOs.
After being knocked out in 2 rounds in a WBC strawweight eliminator by Denver Cuello in May 2012 and losing on points to Pedro Guevara in July 2015 for the WBC 108 lb trinket, the Mexican’s career looked to be going nowhere. Lopez then was given a shot at WBC champion Yu Kimura in the land of the rising sun in March 2016. He took the opportunity with both hands, easily overcoming the man from Japan on points. His first defence 4 months later was a dangerous assignment against the heavily avoided and big punching Jonathan Taconing. Lopez got his tactics spot on and managed to negate Taconing on his way to a unanimous verdict. Despite being 35 which is considered extremely old for someone in the lower weights the smart southpaw has shown no signs of decline as yet and as stated earlier he will rematch Ken Shiro after their tight first contest in May.
Felix Alvarado 30-2 26 KOs.
Arguably the hardest hitter on this list the big punching Nicaraguan has scored 6 stoppages inside 3 rounds in 2017 culminating in a devastating third round drilling of Fahlan Sakreerin Jr in an IBF eliminator on 14 October. The Thai has shared the ring with the likes of Milan Melindo and Katsunari Takayama but has never been completely wiped out as he was against Alvarado. The 28-year-old’s only losses came against Juan Carlos Reveco in June 2014 and versus Kazuto Ioka on the last day of 2013. Both Ioka and Reveco certainly knew they had been in a fight and there probably isn’t a big queue lining up to take on Alvarado.
Pedro Guevara 30-3-1 17 KOs.
The Mexican has campaigned at world level for around the last 5 years with mixed success both at home and on the road. His first world title crack saw him lose a split decision to Johnriel Casimero in August 2012 for the IBF bauble. It was December 2014 when Guevara got his second tilt as he travelled to Japan to face Akira Yaegashi for the vacant WBC crown. Yaegashi had come down in weight after being relieved of his flyweight title by Roman Gonzalez and if proved to be a bridge too far as the Mexican stopped the Japanese warrior in round 7. After 2 successful defences including against Ganigan Lopez the 28-year-old was surprisingly beaten by Yu Kimura in November 2015 in a bout that he looked to be well in control of after 6 rounds. Guevara showed in his majority loss to Ken Shiro he is more than capable of mixing it with anyone in the division and a couple of solid wins should gain him another big fight.
Hekkie Budler 31-3 10 KOs.
A forma champion 3 lb south the South African has wins over the likes of Jesus Silvestre, Xiong Zhao Zhong and Nkosinathi Joyi on his record. The 29-year-old has not only fought at home but on some of the big Monte Carlo shows that had the likes of Gennady Golovkin as headline acts. He was upset by Byran Rojas in March 2016, losing his title in the process. After 2 wins at 108 lb Budler went to the Philippines and as previously stated, lost a split decision to Milan Melindo in September in a terrific fight. Having managed to secure the rematch Budler has already something to look forward to next year and a victory would set up some interesting and appealing matchups.
Others who were considered and would be more than capable participants were Filipino pair Jonathan Taconing and Randy Petalcorin, Thailand’s Palangpol CP Freshmart and Puerto Rican Angel Acosta.
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features