Today (January 14th) saw the IBF updating their rankings for the first time this year, following in the footsteps of the WBA, who did their first update on January 10th.
In the Minimumweight division little has changed from an Asian perspective. Katsunari Takayama is still the world champion and Japan's Ryuji Hara (#3) is still the top challenger for Takayama's title. The first notable change sees recent world title challenger Vigilio Silvano (#8) move up 1 place. whilst compatriot Mateo Handig (#11) stays where he was last month and Rommel Asenjo (#14) enters the rankings. The changes here have mostly come from the fact that Oswaldo Novoa (#7 last month) will be challenging for the WBC world title.
At Light Flyweight, where Asia dominates due to champion Johnriel Casimero, there is a few notable changes. The biggest winner, although he only improved by a single place, is Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr. (#5) who earned a small movement with his stoppage victory over Ryo Miyazaki. Behind the Thai we have Randy Petalcorin (#8) and Jether Oliva (#10), who have both improved by 1 place. At #13 we have a new entrant into the IBF's world rankings in the form of Ivan Soriano who sits just above Shin Ono (#14) who remains where he was a month ago. Oddly it appears that Soriano has completely replaced compatriot Jonathan Taconing, who has been dropped completely.
In the Flyweight division we have genuine confusion. It's been all but confirmed that Moruti Mthalane has lost his world title, despite this the IBF do still list him as the champion, something that may well rile Thai Amnat Ruenroeng (#7) who was set to fight Mthalane later this month. The only Asian ranked higher than Amnat is Filipino veteran Rocky Fuentes (#5) who is set to fight the #6 ranked McWilliams Arroyo later this months. Although Fuentes and Amnat are the two highest placed challengers from Asia that doesn't stop their being numerous other Asian fighters ranked, including Takuya Kogawa (#10), Froilan Saludar (#11), Toshiyuki Igarashi (#12) and Masayuki Kuroda (#14). Incidentally none of these fighters have seen a move at all in the rankings. Amazingly the IBF have once again over-looked Naoya Inoue, a move that has left us really curious as to what they want the Japanese youngster to do to "earn" a world ranking.
It's not just Flyweight with no changes but also Super Flyweight. The division, which hasn't seen a single mover since the last rankings, still features Japanese champion Teiru Kinoshita (#3) as the highest ranked Asian with Arthur Villanueva (#4) close behind. Although they are the only Asian's in the top 10 it hasn't stopped the top 15 from Asian friendly with Kohei Kono (#11), Go Onaga (#12), Mark Anthony Geraldo (#13), Yota Sato (#14) and Rusalee Samor (#15). We're still unsure why the IBF continue to rank Sato who has officially retired. We'd love to see any of the ranked Asian fighters in with champion Daiki Kameda, who we suspect will be facing Zolani Tete in his next bout.
At Bantamweight, where we saw Stuart Hall win the title in December, little has really changed in terms of the rankings. Kohei Oba (#5) has moved up a single position whilst Ryosuke Iwasa (#12) remains where he was. Surprisingly these are the only Asian's ranked in a division that we think is one of Asia's strongest. Strangely the #15 ranking has been given to Britain's Martin Ward, who although talented hasn't done anything to be ranked above the likes of Marvin Mabait, Marlon Tapales, Suriyan Sor Rungvisai or Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym.
In the Super Bantamweight division things have changed a bit. Firstly Japan's Hidenori Otake (#3) has moved up a slot and is effectively the #2 challenger behind Carl Frampton (#2) due tot he fact the IBF have no #1 challenger. The second best ranked Asian is Yasutaka Ishimoto (#9) who sits a place above Mike Tawatchai (#10). The only other Asian given a ranking at 122lbs is Hozumi Hasegawa (#13) who has been shuffled from #8 at Featherweight, where he sat last month. This seems to indicate that the IBF have realised Hasegawa is technically campaigning at 122lbs and not 126lbs.
Talking about the Featherweight division, the big move here is that Nonito Donaire (#7) enters the division after having previously been ranked #3 at Super Bantamweight. Donaire, the leading Asian, is 2 places above Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo (#9) who remains where he was a month ago. The only other Asian contender is Hisashi Amagasa (#14) who directly replaces Akifumi Shimoda. With the champion being Evgeny Gradovich we've got to admit that we don't imagine Donaire will be challenging for the title, with both men sharing the same trainer though it's interesting that that bout is a possibility on paper.
The first IBF title fight of the year was at Super Featherweight where Rances Barthelemy controversially defeated Argenis Mendez to become the new champion. For Asian fans the key interest is power puncher Masao Nakamura (#6) who would make for an entertaining bout with anybody. Below Nakamura we only have Canadian based Afghan Arash Usmanee (#9) and Michael Farenas (#10). Oddly this has seen Usmanee falling 1 place whilst Farenas has improved 2 places, make of that what you will.
At Lightweight we have some interesting changes. Sure Denis Shafikov (#3) and Rustam Nugaev (#9) are exactly where they were a month ago, but behind them is a nice shake up. Firstly Andrey Klimov (formerly #11) has dropped completely out of the rankings, this has seen Takahiro Ao (#11) move up a place and in tern the IBF found a place for Yoshitaka Kato (#12), whilst managing to keep both IK Yang (#13) and Al Sabuapan (#14) exactly where they were a month ago. Unfortunately with their rankings being released on the 14th they were already out of date with Kato having lost to Masayoshi Nakatani, wonder if see Nakatani given a ranking next month.
Unfortunately above Lightweight Asian fighters aren't really that well recognised by the IBF.
At Light Welterweight only Patomsuk Pathompothong (#12) is recognised, whilst at Welterweight things aren't much better with only Yoshihiro Kamegai (#10) and at Light Middleweight Charles Bellamy/Ota (#11) is the only Asian based fighter given a ranking. Of those 3 men only Patomsuk actually managed to move in the rankings, climbing one place from the previous month.
Disappointingly no Asian fighter is ranked at either Middleweight or Super Middleweight. though at Light Heavyweight we have both Dmitry Sukhotsky (#2) and Igor Mikhalkin (#14) who remain at the same positions they held a month ago.
At Cruiserweight things have changed more than we had expected. Firstly Grigory Drozd (previously #3) has surprisingly fallen 8 places, a move that genuinely bemuses us. Drozd falling down so far has seen Rakhim Chakhkiev (#5) move up 1 place oddly however Alexander Alexeev (#8) has remained in his position despite reports that he has retired. Confusing division in the eyes of the IBF it seems.
At Heavyweight nothing has changed. Ruslan Chagaev (#3) and Alexander Ustinov (#6) are where they were last month and despite their rankings we'd be shocked to see either getting a title fight any time soon.
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