For those who missed them the previous parts are available below-
Part 1 is here
Part 2 is here
Part 3 is here
Part 4 is here
Part 5 is here
Part 6 is here
And the first bonus part is here.
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A well known Filipino to follow this year is Johnriel Casimero (21-3, 13) who will continue seeking another world title reign. The exciting Pinoy, a former IBF and WBO “interim” champion at 108lbs, had a 2015 to forget with his only bout being a loss to Amnat Ruenroeng, in a foulfest. Despite the disappointing 2015 he is still a world class talent and finds himself in a talent rich weight class, where bouts against the likes of Kazuto Ioka or Juan Francisco Estrada are certainly good looking match ups. Despite being in the talent rich Flyweight division he has been linked to the Super Flyweight division, something we're hoping he he has second thoughts about.
Another Filipino that we would advise making a mental note of for the next 12 months is recent WBO Minimumweight title challenger Vic Saludar (11-2, 9). Saludar ended 2015 losing to Kosei Tanaka however prior to suffering a 6th round TKO loss he had looked the boss of the bout and it seems almost certain that he's going to be a real threat through the 12 months. Bouts involving Saludar and any top 105lb fighter would be great and we're really hoping that that Tanaka won't his last notable one as he has the style and aggression to be a real fan favourite.
Saludar is far from the only Filipino puncher that we're excited to see more of in 2016. Another is Rey Loreto (21-13, 13). The “Hitman” had a really frustrating 2015 but in the last few years he has scored wins against Pornsawan Porpramook and Nkosinathi Joyi, twice, and is now viewed as a genuine contender in the 108lb weight class. Loreto may struggle to get many fights in 2016 but we would suggest trying to watch them all as he is a real danger man and has genuine power in every shot. Loreto has already fought this year, blowing away an opponent in Thailand earlier this month, but will be hunting bigger and better bouts through the coming months.
One final Filipino here is WBA “interim” Light Flyweight champion Randy Petalcorin (23-1-1, 18). The “Razor” is a wonderful fighter to watch with blurring hand speed, unerring accuracy and spiteful power. Sadly though his 2015 was essentially a a write off, with around 90 second action, the time it took him to destroy Ma Yi Ming in Beijing. Hopefully 2016 will see him in with the likes of Ryoichi Taguchi or Donnie Nietes or Akira Yaegashi. Possibly the most talented of the Filipino's mentioned in this bonus part, but also the most frustrating given his current position as the top WBA contender at 108lbs.
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It's not often that we see Japanese fighters make a name for themselves in the West but Tomoki Kameda (31-2, 19) [亀田 和毅] has managed to do just that, originally making a name for himself in Mexico before expanding his profile in his homeland of Japan and the US. Sadly 2015 was an awful year for the Kameda brothers but Tomoki has got the chance to rebuild this coming year and the 24 year old appears to be eyeing up a charge at 122lbs. Win or lose it will be fun to see how he fares this coming year as he looks to become a world champion for a second time. Sadly for him however he does have serious questions to answer in 2016 and how answers them will tell us a lot about his characters.
Over the coming year there are a number of bouts that we are “expecting” to see. One of which is a WBA Super Flyweight bout with champion Kohei Kono defending his belt against Hong Kong's Rex Tso (18-0, 11) [曹星如]. Tso is one of those many fighters who makes for action bouts, with a wild, offensive, exciting style that has it's limitations but will always be fun to watch, and if he gets the Kono bout that has potential FOTY implications. If he doesn't get a Kono bout the odds are that Tso will still be in some thrillers, as he has been against Michael Enriquez and Mako Matsuyama in recent years. One to watch if you like excitement.
The Light Flyweight division may be the gem in 2016 and with that in mind it's a division where all the champions should be in competitive fights. One such fighter is WBA champion Ryoichi Taguchi (23-2-1, 10) [田口 良一]. The Watanabe gym fighter won his title at the end of 2014 and has beaten two weak opponents in his defenses so far, so hopefully 2016 will see him doing more and actually facing some of his top contemporariness, of which there are plenty of. If he does then he really could be in some great fights later this year.
Talking about Japanese Light Flyweights it's hard to ignore resurgent Ryo Miyazaki (24-1-3, 15) [宮崎 亮], who is on a 4 fight KO run since he was upset by Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr. The former WBA Minimumweight champion is now looking for big bouts at 108lbs and given the team behind him it it seems likely he will get a big bout, with contests against the likes of Akira Yaegashi being real possibilities. Given Miyazaki is always fun to watch, he should always be one to watch, even if he is relatively limited, and with the depth of the division this really could be the year to follow the Ioka gym warrior.
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When we talk about exciting it's impossible to ignore destructive Thai Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (38-4-1, 35) [ศรีสะเกษ นครหลวงโปรโมชั่น]. The former WBC Super Flyweight champion is really the Super Flyweight version of Gennady Golovkin and he's a danger to anyone in the division with his combination punching, intense pressure, imposing physical strength and spiteful power. It's that power which has seen him destroy both Yota Sato and Jose Salgado and he is expecting to get another world title fight later this year, in a rematch with Carlos Cuadras.
Staying with Thailand we also need to make another former world champion, Suriyan Sor Rungvisai (46-6-1, 23) [สุริยัน ศ.รุ่งวิสัย]. The experienced 26 year old Thai has been around the block but proven himself as being a tough and talented fighter capable of giving anyone a hard time. Having been a professional since he was 17 it's fair to call Suriyan a veteran. He had a short lived reign as the WBC Super Flyweight champion in 2011-2012 and has since proven himself a very credible Bantamweight who is looking to get a second shot at a 118lb title later this year, if he can over-come Anselmo Moreno in April.
We hope you'll follow these men, as well as the 40 featured in the previous "To watch" articles.