Fans of “the little guys” have had a wonderful few weeks with a load of notable bouts across 108lbs, 112lbs and 115lbs but maybe what the future holds is even better than what we've just had, and what we've just had is a huge shake up at both Flyweight and Super Flyweight.
For those who are perhaps just dipping your toes into the lower weight class lets go back a few weeks.
On August 31st Ryoichi Taguchi (25-2-1, 11) successfully defended the WBA Light Flyweight title defeating mandatory challenger Ryo Miyazaki (24-2-3, 15) with a 12 round decision. This now leaves Taguchi open to defend his title on December 31st on a yet to be announced show in Tokyo in a voluntary defense of the title.
On the same day the WBA Super Flyweight title changed hands, with Taguchi's stablemate Kohie Kono (32-9-1, 13) losing the title to Nicaraguan slugger Luis Concepcion (35-4, 24) in a 12 round decision. The future for Kono now looks unclear, with some suggesting he may be heading for retirement, or an easy bout at the end of the year. For Concepcion the rumour is that a world title unification may be around the corner with the WBO champion, but more about that later.
On September 3rd we saw a second Super Flyweight title change hands with Filipino Jerwin Ancajas (25-1-1, 16) announcing himself to the international boxing world by claiming the IBF title. The unheralded Filipino took a miniscule payday to face the unbeaten McJoe Arroyo (17-1, 8) but made the most of his chance and clearly beat the Puerto Rican.
The following day we saw a champion actually retain a title at Super Flyweight as WBO kingpin Naoya Inoue (11-0, 9) over-came the gutsy but outclassed Petchbarngborn Kokietgym (38-8-1, 18), scoring a 10th round win. After the win it reported that Inoue was seeking a unification bout and it now seems like terms are set for him to face Concepcion in December, with December 30th looking the most likely. The bout would see two of the titles unified and should see us move into 2017 with 3 title holders.
On September 10th we saw Filipino road warrior Johnriel Casimero (22-3, 14) travel to the UK where he notched the first defense of his title, with a 10th round TKO win against the previously unbeaten Englishman Charlie Edwards (8-1,3). The win saw Casimero being too good and too powerful for the novice and since the win he has called pretty much everyone else at the weight claiming that he now wants to unify the titles.
The very same night we saw Roman Gonzalez (46-0, 38) become the third new champion at Super Flyweight in the space of 2 weeks as he defeated Mexican Carlos Cuadras (35-1-1, 27) in a 12 round war. The win netted Gonzalez the WBC title and saw him become a genuine 4 weight world champion.
Since Gonzalez's win we've seen the team of his mandatory challenger, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (41-4-1, 38), state they would be happy to travel to the US to face the Nicaraguan. We've also seen Gonzalez's promoter suggest late 2017 would be the ideal time for their man to face Naoya Inoue.
Earlier today, September 14th, we saw further developments in the ever changing picture of the lower weights with former Gonzalez foe Juan Francisco Estrada (33-2, 24) vacating the WBA “super” and WBO Flyweight titles as he joins the fray at Super Flyweight, in pursuit of a rematch with Estrada. Gonzalez's WBC title is also expected to be made vacant in the coming days.
With all the title changes, vacating, weight changes and the such we have seen a real shake up at both 115lbs and 112lbs. Essentially we have seen Super Flyweight become, arguably, the hottest division in the sport and we've seen Flyweight suddenly become one of the most open with a title dash expected over the next 12 months.
At Super Flyweight we have a division with a leading list of Inoue, Gonzalez, Ancajas, Concepcion, Cuadras, Srisaket and Estrada. Below those we have fighters looking for opportunities like Sho Ishida, Khalid Yafai, Aston Palicte, Rex Tso, Norasing Kokietgym and Jose Martinez
At Flyweight we could end the weekend with only two recognised champions, Kazuto Ioka and Johnriel Casimero. However the division will be blown wide open with fighters like Donnie Nietes, Brian Viloria, Pedro Guevara, Moruti Mthalane, Takuya Kogawa, Juan Carlos Reveco, Daigo Higa, Zou Shiming, McWilliams Arroyo, Nawaphon Por Chokchai, Giemel Magramo, Muhammad Waseem, Andrew Selby, Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep, Kwanpichit OnesongchaiGym and Kompayak Porpramook all likely looking at joining the mad dash for title fights.
At the moment the rumours are that the WBO title will be fought for in November between Zou Shiming and Kwanpichit OnesongchaiGym and that the WBC title will be on the line between Nawaphon Por Chokchai and Juan Hernandez, also in November, though there is a good chance both the IBF and WBA titles will be defended before the year is out.
Despite Estrada and Gonzalez both moving up in weight they have arguably made Flyweight more interesting, with the mad dash for world glory almost certain to give us some great fights, and have strengthened the already brilliant Super Flyweight division. At 108lbs it seems like we could see Taguchi, Akira Yaegashi and Kosei Tanaka all in action in December, with potential unification bouts coming in 2017.
Just over a week ago Japan's Ryo Miyazaki vacated the WBA Minimumweight title citing weight issues as his reason to move up to Light Flyweight. Unfortunately for Miyazaki his first fight after vacating the world title saw him losing his previously unbeaten record with a stoppage loss to Thailand's unheralded Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr.
The loss, could be viewed in several ways.
For some it's the worst thing that could have happened to Miyazaki. He was supposed to move to Light Flyweight, win a world title at a second weight in 2014 then move up again to hunt a Flyweight title some where down the line. He's was unfortunately shown that Light Flyweight isn't really an option available to him and he also suffered a loss, not just a loss but an early stoppage loss to a man many had written off as merely a tune up opponent.
For others however it was the best thing that could possibly happen for Miyazaki. Right now he's learned the painful and agonising lesson of trying to cut too much weight. How he ever made 105lbs is a mystery and the fact he collapsed from dehydration after his recent weigh-in tells you everything you need to know. His loss, rather than being a bad thing, was the hint that he needs to fight at a weight that is natural to his body, not a weight that he has had to destroy himself to make.
For me personally the biggest danger in boxing is dehydration. All too often fighters dehydrate far more than they should in the hope of having a natural size or strength advantage over their opponent. I'm not a believer in this logic and would point fighters to the examples of Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather Jr, Timothy Bradley and Gennady Golovkin as fighters who fight at their natural weight rather than drain themselves to artificially low weights. The 4 men mentioned are all strong at their natural weight and are all better fighting in, or around, their natural weight then dropping a division and draining themselves.
If Miyazaki allows his body to fill out he's likely to be a Flyweight, incidentally where he started his career way back in 2006 when he was just a teenager, if not a Super Flyweight. Sure this would result in him giving away height and reach to opponents but with the fact he'll be 100% in the ring will help him much more than draining his body of liquids in the future and possibly seeing him suffer a major injury. There's enough danger in this sport already, so don't make it worse by draining down.
Incidentally Miyazaki, who as mentioned passed out at his weigh in, was unlikely to be able to make a name at Light Flyweight anyway. The division is where his stablemate Kazuto Ioka fights and although it was widely expected that Ioka would be skipping up to Flyweight in 2014 it appears that Ioka, the current WBA champion at 108lbs is very comfortable at the weight. If Ioka, as he did for his fight with Felix Alvarado, can weigh in with more than a lb to spare then there is no reason for Miyazaki to be trying to fight in the same division.
Next time out we'd like to see Miyazaki fighting at either Flyweight or an above the limit fight at or around 114lbs. He needs to put the loss behind and look to establish himself at a weight than he can feel comfortable. He's a very fun to watch fighter and someone I'm going to watch every time I can though if he continues to starve his body of liquid there is every chance his career is going to be over far too soon.
Before I finish this I would also like to ask, as an open question, what were Miyazaki's handlers thinking allowing him to fight in the condition he was in? They really do need to think twice before allowing something like this to happen again, as doe the JBC who should have cancelled the bout when they saw Miyazaki's condition at the weight in.
This is just an opinion, maaaan! It's easy to share our opinions, and that's what you'll find here, some random opinion pieces