One of the best divisions in the sport right now is the Light Flyweight division, which is stacked with talent, has been matching the top fighters against each other consistently and it has such a varied array of styles that there really is something there for everyone.
This coming Monday fight fans in the Philippines get another great bout between top divisional fighters as local hopeful Randy Petalcorin (29-2-1, 22) finally gets a world title fight. Sadly for Petalcorin he will be going up against one of the division's most feared fighters, Nicaraguan puncher Felix Alvarado (33-2, 29), in a bout for the vacant IBF title.
The Filipino is a 26 year old southpaw who has been around the professional scene for close to a decade. His career has promised a lot, but the reality is that he's yet to score a really big win and live up to the expectation that many in the Philippines have had for him.
Petalcorin would scored 5 straight stoppage wins to begin his career before coming up short against a then unknown Marlon Tapales, who would later go on to claim the WBO Bantamweight title. He would rebuild from that loss by advancing his record from 5-1 to 23-1-1 (18) before a controversial loss to Omari Kimweri in Australia in 2016. Sadly the 19 fight unbeaten run between those two losses lacked in terms of notable wins, with perhaps the best of them being over Walter Tello, Ma Yiming and Samartlek Kokietgym.
Since losing to Kimweri Petalcorin has bounced back with 6 straight wins coming into this bout.
In the ring Petalcorin is a razor sharp boxer-puncher. He's shown those skills through his career and few will question his smoothness in the ring. He can switch from head to body with ease, can counter punch excellently and he looks amazing when he's facing over-matched foes, as we saw when he travelled to China and demolished Yiming with smooth combinations and brilliant clean punching. Sadly though there is a feeling that Petalcorin looking great against lower tier fighters says more about his competition than about him.
If Petalcorin can step up here and perform as good as he has against lesser men then he has a genuine chance, but this is a big step up for him.
Nicaraguan fighter Alvarado has been a professional since 2010 and the 29 year old has built himself a reputation as a man to fear. He would begin his career by running up 18 straight wins, 15 by stoppage, whilst fighting mostly on the Nicaraguan domestic scene. In 2013 he would step up massively and face Kazuto Ioka for the WBA Light Flyweight title, though came up short against the Japanese fighter. The following year Alvarado would suffer his second loss, losing in a competitive bout against Juan Carlos Reveco. Since those losses Alvarado has been on a tear going 15-0 (14). This time his run hasn't just come against domestic level opponents but also fringe contenders, such as Yader Cardoza, Jose Antonio Jimenez and most notable Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr.
As a fighter Alvarado can be out boxed, he out manoeuvred, out sped and out thought. However he's a massive puncher, an all out monster on the front foot and he seems to have a solid engine with a very gritty and determined toughness. He can be his, though has under-rated defense, and boy can he punch himself. He's crude, a little clumsy, a bit open and pretty technically limited, but he is such a dangerous fighter that few will take risks against him, especially given that his power is potent to both head and body.
We believe that if Petalcorin can box to his best, for 12 rounds, uses his legs and jab and never trades with the Nicaraguan, he can take a decision here, especially with the home advantage. It is however a massive ask and Alvarado will be after him from the first bell, and will be looking to break down the Filipino. Sadly for Petalcorin we suspect the power, toughness and drive of Alvarado will be too much in the end.
No matter who wins here we're assured of some great bouts down the line, with the division being so packed with talent that the winner will struggle to find an easy defense any time soon.
If their is one thing we're excited about it's the possibility of China becoming a genuine boxing nation. We know it's a very, very long way from becoming a reality however we are slowly seeing the country become more relevant in the world of professional boxing. The next major step on that journey comes on April 24th when obscure Chinese fighter Ma Yi Ming (12-5, 7) attempts to claim the WBA interim Light Flyweight title and upset once beaten champion Randy Petalcorin (22-1-1, 17).
The bout, which is being held in Beijing, will be Petalcorin's first defense of the title that he actually won in China, in Shanghai. Petalcorin won that belt by stopping Walter Tello in 7 rounds in what was, for all intents, his stand out win thus far. The win is the one that has defined the talented Filipino though one that has left many wondering what exactly he can do.
Aged 23 Petalcorin has long been tipped as a potential star and under the guidance of Peter Maniatis and Jim Claude Manangquil he has slowly developed into a solid looking, though relatively unproven, fighter.
Watching Petalcorin in action shows his ability and shows that he's a fighter who passes the “Eye Test”. He appears to have a razor like jab, solid timing and delightful handspeed as well as very good movement. In fact against Tello it was his jab and movement that impressed us more than anything else. There is however some things he'll be wanting to work on before stepping up too the top level. Notably his defense does have holes in it that show themselves when he throws his combinations and his footwork, at times, does get a little sloppy, though it's covered well with his speed.
Given his age there is a lot of time for the Filipino to work on his issues though they are there and against an elite level fighter in the division they could be taken advantage of. Against Tello they weren't made into any sort of an issue, though the fighters did look on completely different levels from the start of the fight with Petalcorin looking far too good for his over-matched foe.
The challenger, Ming, is rightfully the under-dog though he is better than his record suggests. In fact looking at Ming's record for just the numbers is very misleading and ignores the fact he's improved from being the fighter he once was.
When he began his career back in 2007 Ming lost his first 3 bouts by stoppage, all of which were on the road. These included an opening round defeat to current WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin. After 5 fights his career seemed a relatively pointless one and he was 1-4 (1) having lost in Thailand, South Korea and the US. Since then however he has gone 11-1 (6), with his only loss coming to Jonathan Baat, and built himself a solid looking record fighting in China where he is 10-0 (5).
Although Ming hasn't beaten a who's who he does hold one or two interesting wins. The first of those came in 2009 when Ming claimed the WBO China Zone Flyweight title with a 9th round TKO win against compatriot Wang Xinghua, who later went on to draw with Akihiro Matsumoto and upset Lionel Legada. In 2011 the Chinese fighter over-came journeyman Ricky Manufoe of Indonesia and the now promising Hanuman Sithluangporphun of Thailand. More recently he has scored stoppages against Albert Alcoy, Jin-Man Jeon and a big decision win over Tommy Seran, which saw him claiming the WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight title.
The footage we've seen of Ming is interesting to say the least. He appears a defensively tight pressure fighter who comes forward behind a high guard. Offensively however things are much less tight and Ming does leave himself open when he is throwing punches with many of his shots being wide, wild and looping. Looking at him he's also not the quickest or the most powerful punching.
From what we've seen of the two men involved it does seem like Petalcorin is a much better, more rounded fighter than the Chinese fighter. That's not to say Ming has nothing going for him, after all he's at home and unbeaten in China, though for Ming to win he would need a career best performance. What we're expecting to see is Petalcorin being too fast and too sharp for the Chinese fighter who will try to exert his pressure and come forward but be too slow to really trouble Petalcorin. The Filipino will be tagged a few times from the looping shots but ride them well before firing back and in the end it will be a test of Ming's toughness. If Ming is tough enough to see out the storm he will likely lose a wide decision, odds are however that Petalcorin's shots take their toll on the challenger who fails to see out the distance.
Whilst a win for Petalcorin will be another hit against the rise of Chinese boxing it will help him become more legitimate ahead of possible match ups against the likes of Ryoichi Taguchi, the current WBA champion, or Thailand's unbeaten Paipharob Kokietgym.
On August 26th the "Fist of Power" shows kick off as Top Rank and Bob Arum start their boxing revolution through the Chinese mainland and attempt to follow up their success on Macau. For many the most important bout on the inaugural "Fist of Power" card is for the WBA interim Light Flyweight title as once beaten Filipino Randy Petalcorin (21-1-1, 16) takes on Panama's Walter Tello (20-7, 8).
The bout is certainly not an amazing one on paper, nor will it attract huge attention from fans of the west, though it is a long awaited opportunity for Petalcorin who has been on the verges of a world title fight a year or two now.
For those who haven't seen the Filipino he's one of the many contenders at 108lbs who has been making his name over the last few years. He's not been fast tracked like some of his contemporaries but he has been slowly making his name fighting between his native homeland and in Australia where he has become a minor star.
Aged just 22 Petalcorin has managed to record 15 wins and a draw in his last 16 bouts. They haven't come against any world level contenders as of yet but they have come on a consistent basis as Petalcorin has become a name in the division. With good speed, solid power and a very crisp jab the young southpaw is a very well skilled fighter even if he's not completely rounded or tested at a high level.
From what we've seen of Petalcorin he is still very much a developing fighter but he's also one who has shown plenty of promise just like he has also shown plenty of flaws. Like most young fighters however it's clear he's not the full article and that he will improve as he level of competition improves. Sadly it's hard to know how good a fighter is when they are competing against limited foes, as Petalcorin has been doing so far.
When it comes to Tello, a 27 year old from Puerto Armuelles, Panama, it's fair to say we are are talking about someone who has competed at a very high level. That has seen Tello battling with the likes of Alberto Rossel, Giovani Segura and Manuel Vargas, all of whom have beaten him. Saying that however Tello has recorded a win over Jorle Estrada
The footage of Tello makes him out to be wild, a slugger, a man who throws shots wider and more recklessly than many out there. He combines that wild style with a lack of power and a serious lack of technique often meaning that even his heaviest of shots aren't the most damaging. He throws them off balance and wings them like an un-coordinated pub brawler.
Having seen both men it seems like that Tello will come for a fight though walk on to Petalcorin's straight shots which will be thrown as counters time and time again. That doesn't mean it will be easy for Petalcorin, especially not if Tello can cut the distance and make the action intense, but we do feel the Filipino has the power and skills to over-come Tello without too many issues and by the end the decision will be very lob sided with Petalcorin running out a clear winner.
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World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.