Over the last few weeks we've looked at 30 fighters who we tipped as “ones to watch in 2016”, unsurprisingly however we had to miss out on a lot of fighters. Here we are doing a bonus part trying to include an extra 20 fighters who missed out on our original 6 parts! With these 20 extra fighters it brings the total covered up to an amazing 50 fighters!
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.
We have to say that January 2015 was one of the least memorable starts to the year that we can remember, in a very long time. Thankfully however things get under-way properly in February and here are the bouts that we suspect will be the highlights.
WBC Minimumweight Title Fight [February 5th]
The month kicks off in style as Thai boxing get it's first world title fight of the year. That fight will see WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (36-0, 12) defending against unbeaten Filipino fighter Jeffrey Galero (11-0, 5). This bout looks a bit like a mismatch, given the competition Galero has faced so far, though we did see Wanheng step up big time last year and Galero may well feel he can do the same in his first world title shot.
Pinoy Pride 29 [February 7th]
The first major Filipino show of the year closes out the first week of February and although there are no world title bouts on the card there are 3 highly ranked Filipinos, and a former world champion all in action.
The stand out fighter in action is Genesis Servania (25-0, 11) who is one of the most naturally talented Filipinos currently making his name on the boxing scene. Servania, who is very highly ranked in the Super Bantamweight division, is expecting to get a world title fight later this year though will have to get past Juan Luis Hernandez (17-3-1, 9) on this show first.
Another man who will need to record a win if he's to get a chance at a world title somewhere down the line is Jason Pagara (34-2, 21), the older brother of the monstrously talented Albert Pagara. Pagara will be taking on Cesar Chavez (24-7, 12) and a win here us likely to lead him to a big bout in the US, though a loss will set him back big time.
Talking about a man who cannot bare to take a loss right now it's fair to say that Arthur Villanueva (26-0, 14) cannot even think about losing. Ranked #3 by the WBO at Super Flyweight Villanueva has a lot to lose and little to gain as he takes on former WBO Flyweight champion Julio Cesar Miranda (38-11-2, 29). Miranda needs a win to keep his career alive and Villanueva needs a win to open up a chance at getting a world title fight later this year. It's fair to say that this is the most important bout of the day, by some margin.
On the same day, albeit in Japan, we see the return to the ring of former WBC and Lineal Flyweight champion Toshiyuki Igarashi (19-2-1, 11) who fights against Mexico's Efrain Perez (17-5, 12) in what looks to be a must win bout for the Japanese fighter. On paper this looks like an easy win however Perez is a gutsy fighter who will almost certainly bring the best out of Igarashi in what could be a very tough 10 rounds for the Japanese southpaw who had only 9 rounds of action in the last 17 months.
DANGAN 121 [February 9th]
We get the first Japanese title fight of the year on February 9th as unbeaten men collide in a really enticing looking contest of speed and skills for the Japanese Super Featherweight title. Going into the bout the champion is the much touted Rikki Naito (11-0, 5) however his challenger is the equally as touted Masayuki Ito (16-0-1, 7) and the winner will almost certainly emerge as yet another Japanese Super Featherweight to keep an eye on. With both men being in their early 20's a loss isn't a major set back though neither will be wanting anything but a win in a contest that just looks a little bit special
Legend Fight Vol 3 [February 18th]
We've been fans of Ryosuke “Eagle Eye” Iwasa (18-1, 11) for a long time and finally he's getting his shot at the big time as he battles in an IBF Eliminator against American fighter Sergio Perales (24-2, 16). It's hard to see anything but a win for Iwasa here who will move towards a world title fight with Randy Caballero if he comes out on top here. Iwasa has been patiently waiting for a shot a world title and we suspect he'll be fully prepared for what is certainly the most important bout of his career so far.
Earnest Efforts 3 [February 19th]
Just a day after we get a world title eliminator we get a world title double.
The key bout here is an all-Japanese bout for the IBF Light Flyweight title as Naoko Shibata (13-3, 4) battles against Saemi Hanagata (9-5-2, 4) in what looks like to be a really intriguing battle of wills. Shibata, entering as the champion, will be looking to record her 3rd defence of the title whilst Hanagata will be hoping to claim her first world crown.
On the same show the legendary WBC Atomweight champion Momo Koseki (19-2-1, 6) will be hoping to keep her record setting run going as she hunts title defence #15. Rough, tough and a real handful it's hard to see anyone at 102lbs beating Koseki and we can't see Aisah Alico (5-4, 5) even coming close to beating her here.
Thunderbolt [February 21st]
The always exciting Gennady Golovkin (31-0, 28) returns to the ring for his first bout of 2015 and looks to defend his WBA “super”, IBO and WBC interim Middleweight titles against the touted Martin Murray (29-1-1, 12) of the UK. Murray is seen as being one of Golovkin's toughest tests so far and is expected to give him a tough bout however Golovkin does carry a sensational run of 18 straight stoppages and it's hard to see Murray ending that run which dates back more than 6 years!
Wake Vs Paypa-OPBF Title Fight [February 27th]
In Asia the last fight of note comes from Japan where the world ranked Shingo Wake (17-4-2, 10) attempts to defend his OPBF Super Bantamweight title for the 5th time. Wake will be battling against Filipino challenger Jimmy Paypa (16-2-1, 6) in a bout that was originally penciled in, though never formally announced, for December 30th 2014. It's thought that a win here for Wake will put him into a world title fight in Summer.
Loreto Vs Joyi II-The Rematch [February 28th]
In 2014 we saw a major shock as the then unheralded Rey Loreto (19-13, 11) knocked out the highly regarded South African Nkosinathi Joyi (24-3-0-1, 17). Not only did Loreto shock the boxing world with the win but he also claimed the IBO Light Flyweight title and left fans around the world talking about him. Sadly the momentum of that win faded however the memory hasn't and the two will get it on again to close out February 2015. We suspect Joyi will be more aware of the man he is up against whilst Loreto will know a win here could take him on to a “real” world title fight later in the year.
(Image courtesy of www.sportsviewlondon.com)
One thing we all do with fighters is look at their records. I don't mean the who, when, where and how but the raw numbers, the wins, losses, draws and KO's. For some foolish reason we repeatedly think that these numbers tells us about a fighter, we think a fighter with a lot of wins is automatically great and a fighter with a number of losses is bad. We think that a fighter who has a lot of KO's is a power puncher and a go with a lesser number of KO's is feather fisted.
Usually these numbers do tell us a lot, of course they do, but all too often they are misleading and tell us a lot, lot less than we may think and funnily enough we see this coming back to bite us in previews, in general articles and as fans. It's funny that no matter how many times we see an upset we still fail to spot how these records are so misleading and, more often than not, it can make us look rather silly and completely blow apart our predictions.
There is no country out there with such misleading records as the Philippines. The country has numerous talented fighters with less than impressive records whilst other fighters have records that are more padded than anything else. These two groups make up the "misleading Filipinos" a huge group of fighters.
"Better than they are"
The key group, for me, are those that are better than their record indicates. These are the fighters who have suffered a lot of losses though are genuinely talented fighters capable of giving more established foes a very tough test, if not scoring a major upset here and there.
One of the most obvious examples is the WBC ranked Flyweight Rey Megrino (21-20-3, 17). If you just looked at Megrino's "numbers" you'd assume he was rubbish, he was never going to be much more than a journeyman and in fact he's never score any sort of win of note. The truth however is much different to what you'd assume.
Megrino turned professional back in 2005 aged just 19. On his debut he lost to Roderick Agong and after 3 fights he was 1-2, after 15 fights he was an appalling 6-8-1. If that happened anywhere else on the planet we'd write a fighter off as a lost cause, a man likely to be little more than a domestic journeyman.
What we have to remember however is that Megrino, at the point, was taking fights on a week or so's notice, and often against more experienced foes or those who were viewed as either going places or already having gone places, such as Kaichon Sor Vorapin, Fernando Lumacad and Pongsaklek Wonjongkam.
Things continued to be relative poor for Megrino for another few years as he record fell to 12-15-2 after 29 fights and 15-20-3 after 38. Most would have accepted their place in the sport as being nothing more than a domestic level fighter though Megrino knew he had thunderous power, when he was winning he was often winning by KO.
Amazingly though Megrino wasn't just losing to domestic scrubs but was actually losing to very good fighters like Sonny Boy Jaro, Nawaphon Por Chokchai, and Pungluang Sor Singyu. Those losses were marking up his record but few were looking at his actual performances which were often much better than one would suspect of someone with his record with the loss to Nawaphon being a narrow decision loss in Thailand.
Surprisingly Megrino has stayed with the sport and has won his last 6 bouts scoring genuinely notable victories over Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, Myung Ho Lee and, the then unbeaten, Ernesto Saulong.
Just looking at his record it may be amazing to consider this but Megrino has beaten numerous world class opponents such as Denver Cuello, Ratanapol Sor Vorapin and Wonjongkam. On the opposite side he has lost to Wonjongkam, Paipharob Kokietgym, Denkaosan Kokietgym, Tepparith Kokietgym and Sonny Boy Jaro, all of whom have held world titles.
Currently ranked #9 by the WBC Megrino has a real chance to fight for a world title and at just 28 years old it's very likely he has the time to wait for that opportunity.
Whilst Megrino is arguably the best example of a Filipino fighter having a misleading record he's not the only one, and not even the only notable one. Another, that made the headlines this year, is Rey Loreto (18-13, 10) who debuted at just 17 years old with 4 straight loss.
In the past year Loreto has scored back-to-back victories over former world champions in the form of Pornsawan Porpramook and Nkosinathi Joyi. Those victories have turned Loreto from unknown journeyman to world ranked title contender who is seen as being a top 15 fighter by the IBF, WBA and WBC.
Another is the Filipino "Cinderella man" Gerpaul Valero (17-14-3, 11), pictured, who has managed to turn around from 5-13-3 start to becoming a top 30 Flyweight, according to the IWBR and Boxrec. Valero, like Megrino and Loreto, has scored a major upset in recent fights, out pointing former WBC and Linear Flyweight champion Sonny Boy Jaro. The victory over Jaro might be the only "stand out" win on Valero's record but it is a major one and one that could well help him move towards a genuine world ranking.
One final example of a "better than they look" record that we'd like to mention is Richard Pumicpic (14-6-2, 4) who is best known for 2 bouts he fought in Japan. The first of those saw him fighting to a draw with Yohei Tobe, who has since gone on to claim the Japanese Super Flyweight title. At the time of the Tobe bout Pumicpic was 11-5-1 with his most notable wins being his preceding bouts which saw him beating Ratchasak Kokietgym and Rex Olisa. More recently Pumicpic returned to Japan and gave the very highly regarded Ryosuke Iwasa a very tough fight when Iwasa narrowly retained his OPBF Bantamweight title.
Although currently unranked we are certain that Pumicpic will, one day, make a mark on the world stage.
"Worse than they are"
Whilst many fighters from the Philippines are better than their records indicate there are also some with records that make them look significantly better than they are.
One example of that is Lorenzo Villanueva (25-1-0-1, 22), pictured, who looks like a monster on paper though hasn't actually beaten a fighter of note. In fact from his 27 professional bouts his most significant win is probably his 10 round decision over the incredibly tough Jamie Barcelona. In his 27 fights Villanueva has stepped up once and was stopped in a thrilling contest by Duad Cino Yordan in just 2 rounds.
Talking about Villanueva his name sake Arthur Villanueva (25-0, 14) is also not as good as his record indicates, though he is a capable fighter. "King" Arthur isn't as good as his record indicates and in fact he has been fortunate to keep his unbeaten record in fact with very narrow wins over Mark Anthony Geraldo, Jeffrey Cera, Taiki Eto and Fernando Aguilar. Whilst he does have good wins over Megrino and Marco Demecillo there is enough reason to be suspicious about whether or not he should really be 24-0 or not.
One final fighter that I want to mention is Lightweight prospect Roskie Cristobal (7-0, 7). On paper Cristobal looks like a great prospect, and from looking at him as a physical specimen he does look a bit like one to keep an eye on. He's a 5'10" Lightweight who, from his record, would look like he has power and real potential. Unfortunately we have no idea how good he is due to his competition which saw far has been awful. Between his 7 opponents they have had a combined record of 3-21-0, with 3 debutants and 2 other win-less fighters. It's a shame that such an interesting prospect is being matched this lightly but it does appear that either his team wants to protect him or they know he's going to be a long term project, sadly however we can't imagine he's learning much from his current bouts and they aren't helping him in the long term.
Of course not every Filipino has a misleading record. Most are, like fighters from other countries, spot on and accurate. There is no doubting, for example, Donnie Nietes who has earned his very good record, in fact you could make a solid argument for him being undefeated, or Genesis Servania, pictured, who has really developed into a sensational young fighter.
What it comes down to however is a number of things.
Firstly the fighter themselves, some are naturally blessed with talent that they work on to improve and thus pick up the wins in their early fights.
Secondly the promotional situation of the fighter. Some are lucky that their promotional backer can "help" them get the wins in close fights, as seen in the case Arthur Villanueva who has probably escaped with a win or two due to his relationship with ALA gym.
Thirdly is the opposition. In the case of Megrino this has worked against him in regards to his record, a lot, whilst in the case of Cristobal his level of competition has certainly helped bolster his record even though it is seriously padded.
Finally, and maybe most importantly, is the attitude of a fighter. Someone with a record like Megrino could have given up but he believed in himself, he believed he could do something in this sport and will continue to try and reach the top. We've seen a lot of cases where a fighter goes unbeaten for a long time then lose and give up mentally, for example Naseem Hamed. We're not going to suggest that if "King" Arthur or Cristobal lost they'd leave the sport but for a fighter to lose a lot and continue on with the sport is impressive and for that I have the utmost respect for the likes of Loreto, Valero, Pumicpic and Megrino all of whom are a credit to the sport and the perfect examples of a fighters mentality.
(Images courtesy of boxrec.com)
It seems that in boxing 12 months can be a very long time for some fighters, whilst for others it's not long at all. For some 12 months can see them falling from the top of the mountain to being left with the also rans and cast aside as a washed up fighter, for others however a year can be the time it takes for them to go from journeyman to world champion.
Although Filipino youngster Rey Loreto (18-13, 10) hasn't quite gone as far as to win one of the "big 4" titles he has had a remarkable 12 months which has encapsulated the idea that a fighter cannot be judged solely by their record or by the past. In fact if anything Loreto has shown that you are as good as your last fight, which in his case would make him very, very good.
Just a year ago Rey had an ugly looking record that was barely better than 50-50 (15-12, 8). He was however a man showing great signs of improvement and maturity as he began winning bouts that may have slipped by him earlier in his career. That's not to say he was scoring major wins 2 years ago, but he was scoring wins.
A little less than a year ago Rey moved to 16-12 with a decision over Sherwin McDo Lungay, a real journeyman who currently sports a 7-25-2 record. That was Rey's 8th victory in 9 bouts, though only one of them was notable, a stoppage over Wisanu Kokietgym. The victory over Wisanu should have alerted us to the fact that Rey was talented, instead it was put down to a fluke and something that wasn't likely to happen again, after all he had lost his previous 4 to that contest.
The past 12 months have proven that Rey's victory over Wisanu was far from a fluke, what it was was the early signs of a fighter with genuine talent and a fighter who was dangerous when given a chance.
The last 12 months has seen Rey going 3-1 (2). The victory over McDo Lungary was the first of those wins though it has since been followed by victories over Pornsawan Porpramook, the former WBA Minimumweight champion, and Nkosinathi Joyi, the former IBF Minimumweight champion.
Of course people are going to point out the loss Rey has suffered over the past year as a sign that this kid isn't all that. If you however take a look at the loss, it was a technical split decision to a man that Rey had beaten earlier in his career and could well have taken a second victory over had one judge switched just a single round.
Rey, who now holds the IBO Light Flyweight title, will be hoping that he shut up the doubters who had called him various things from "title pretender" to a man who effectively suggested he had no right to step foot in the ring with Joyi. Sure Rey doesn't have a great record but he has the skills, power and heart to go a long way in this sport and if this past year proved anything it's that Rey Loreto is a man on the rise and a serious threat to anyone in the Light Flyweight division.
For those who missed the fight with Joyi, it can be watched in it's entirety below.
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).