Last weekend we saw Filipino fighter Froilan Saludar (30-3-1, 21) resurrect his career as a Super Flyweight with a huge KO win against Tsubasa Murachi at Korakuen Hall. For the "Sniper" this was a huge win, and a much needed win after previous losses to Japanese fighters Takuma Inoue and Sho Kimura. The win not only kept alive Saludar's career but also saw him win the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title, putting him in the mix for a WBO world title fight, down the line. Of course he's not going to suddenly become the mandatory, but he has got himself in the queue for a title fight, and will certainly chase a second world title shot.
With his recent win behind him, we're going to look at Saludar and consider 5 options that may be on the table for the once very highly touted Filipino.
1-Akira Yaegashi (28-6, 16)
With Saludar having scored a big win in Japan last week we'd love to see him return there in the near future. It would seem a world title fight is unlikely, but that doesn't mean he can't face a world class fighter, and Akira Yaegashi would make for the perfect opponent for Saludar, and for fans. The bout would promise excitement, as every Yaegashi fight does, it could be made for December, when Yaegashi is set to retain and the winner would certainly find themselves on the verge of a title fight. This would be a bout both men would see as winnable, and would provide a lot of excitement.
2-Kazuto Ioka (24-2, 14)
If Saludar is to land himself a world title fight in the near future the only real option he has is the WBO champion Kazuto Ioka. The Japanese star is set to defend his title later this year, likely against Jeyvier Cintron on December 31st, but if that fails to come off than Saludar would be an interesting alternative. On the other hand if Ioka gets past Cintron then facing off with Saludar in 2020 wouldn't be an awful choice for a defense. It would seem like a straight forward one for the champion, but is a bout Saludar will be itching for and a bout that could help make Ioka look like a star.
3-Koki Eto (24-5-1, 19)
As with the Yaegashi fight, if Saludar can't land a world title fight he might as well fight against a beatable but exciting opponent, and Koki Eto fits the mould perfectly. In fact Eto may actually come with some extra advantages, given that a fight with Eto could take place Stateside, and this could help increase Saludar's profile. Eto tends to make for fun fights, but is very beatable, and Saludar should be looking to fighters like Eto going forward to build on the win over Murachi.
4-Aston Palicte (25-3-1, 21)
The top Filipino fighters at Super Flyweight are Donnie Nietes and Jerwin Ancajas, and it's unlikely either of those are in a rush to face any other Filipino. As a result the best of the all-Filipino bouts at the weight that we could expect would be a bout between Saludar and Palicte, who would make for a very interesting match up. The edge in power and work rate would certainly favour Palicte but Saludar is no push over and given the fact Palicte was stopped last time out Saludar may well fancy his chances now. This would set the winner up as a legitimate contender for a title and put the other out of the mix. High risk, but high reward.
5-Francisco Rodriguez Jr (31-4-1, 22)
A bit of a while suggestion would be a bout with former unified Minimumweight champion Francisco Rodriguez Jr, in what would be a sensational fight between two men looking to make their mark on the Super Flyweight world scene. In terms of styles this would be compelling, with Rodrgiuez being an aggressive pressure fighter and Saludar being a talented mover, both are looking for a world title fight and the bout has an underlying story. Rodriguez Vs the Philippines. He has fought the likes of Merlito Sabillo, Donnie Nietes, Jomar Fajardo and Elias Joaquino and a bout with Saludar would be another chapter in that story. A brilliant match up for fans and another high risk-high reward one.
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).