It's fair to say that the Flyweight division is set to have a huge 2017, with a lot of fighters now looking to make a name for themselves following an exodus of big names from the division last year. What had began 2016 as one of the best divisions in the sport was left looking a mess after Roman Gonzalez, Juan Francisco Estrada and Johnriel Casimero all vacated titles and moved up in weigh. With the new opportunities for fightes at the weight class we're expecting to see a scramble among the division for title fight opportunties with the likes of Muhammad Waseem and Daigo Higa both stating their intentions to get title fights before the end of 2017.
Today saw several reputable Thai sites announce a WBA Flyweight world title fight has now been agreed for April 23rd in Osaka.
That bout will see Kazuto Ioka (21-1, 13) [井岡一翔], the most proven and accomplished fighter currently plying his trade at 112lbs, defending his WBA crown against Thailand's very own Noknoi Sitthiprasert (61-4, 27) [นกน้อย ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท].
Ioka, a champion at Minimumweght, Light Flyweight and Flyweight, is seen as the most notable name at Flyweight. Since winning the WBA title in 2015 he has made 4 defenses of the belt and has stopped his last 3 foes, Juan Carlos Reveco, Keyvin Lara and Stamp Kiatniwat and has staked his claim as the best Flyweight on the planet. Sadly that claim isn't a great one when the other top names in the division are Zou Shiming and Donnie Nietes, who is an incredible fighter but has done little as a Flyweight.
Although not a huge name outside of Japan Ioka is one of the biggest names in his homeland and is a star in Osaka, where he has fought much of his career. He has looked to become a more global name in recent months and has stated that he is looking to fight Zou Shiming in a WBA/WBO unification bout some where down the line, knowing that a win over Shiming would increase his international profile.
With a record of 61-4 Noknoi has one of the most impressive paper records in the sport, even more impressive when you consider he was 1-4 after his first 5 bouts and has been on a 60-0 run over the better past of 12 years. Sadly whilst a 60-0 unbeaten run does sound highly impressive the competition that Noknoi has faced has been dire on the whole, with his best wins being against the likes of Donny Mabao, Renoel Pael and Kenichi Horikawa. He has never fought outside of Thailand before and is taking a massive up in class, though he did sound confident in the quotes he gave to the Thai media.
Although his competition has been appalling Noknoi is ranked #2 by the WBA, and is also in the top 15 of the WBO and IBF world rankings, however boxrec's ranking of #27 seems more accurate, and even that seems flattering given his level of competition.
Although this bout is being reported in the Thai press there hans't been any noice regarding it in Japan yet. Saying that however we are expecting the officially announcement in the next few weeks.
News! We try and give you the most interesting news stories from the Asian boxing world!