Earlier today the WBC released their most recent rankings. We've tried to break down the rankings in the changes, by division and mentioned the fighters of interest to us, whether they are Asian fighters or men we're about to see fight Asian fighters up against. As per usual, we've started at the Minimumweight division and worked our way towards the Heavyweight division.
The first change is one of the most obvious. That's the fact that Xiong Zhao Zhong (#4) is no longer the WBC Minimumweight champion having been dethroned by Osvaldo Novoa on February 5th. The knock on of that result however is quite a small one with Raul Garcia from Mexico and Leroy Estrada of Panama both moving up 1 place to hold slots #2 and #3. Amazingly that's the only change in the top 15 at 105lbs other than the changes of Novoa and Zhong.
With the small changes at Minimumweight Asia still maintain a huge number of top contenders including Wanheng Menayothin (#1), Zhong (#4, as mentioned), Pigmy Kokietgym (#5) and Ryuji Hara (#10).
At Light Flyweight we again see very little in terms of changes. The top 6 are identical to what they were last month however Nkosinathi Joyi (south Africa, previously #7) has dropped dramatically after his loss to Filipino Rey Loreto (#11). Joyi's relegation down the rankings has seen several fighters moving up, including Thailand's Nethra Sasiprapa (#7) and Filipino Lionel Legada (#12) whilst the division has also waved good bye to Odilon Zaleta who has moved to Flyweight.
In total the Asians in the top 15 at Light Flyweight make up almost half of the ranked fighters. The highest of which is Jonathan Taconing (#3) who is narrowly ahead of Naoya Inoue (#4) who will be fighting for the world title on April 6th, Shin Ono (#5) is a third Asian in the top 5. At places 6 and 7 we find Thai's with Fahlan Sakkreerin (#6) and Nethra (#7) before Filipino pair Loreto (#11) and Legada (#12) just fall out of the top 10.
The Flyweight division, which has Akira Yaegashi as the champion, has seen a number of changes. Firstly Rocky Fuentes (previously #3) has dropped out following his unsuccessful battle for the IBF title. Fuentes's removal from the rankings has been followed by a real shake up of the top 15 which has seen Nawaphon Sor Rungvisai (#3) move up 3 places, Noknoi Sithipraset (#4) stay exactly where he was as does Edgar Sosa (#5). Both Ramon Garcia (#6) and Froilan Saludar (#7) have moved up one place whilst Odilion Zaleta (#8) has been moved up a division ahead of his world title challenger against Yaegashi. Strangely places 9-14 have remained as they were whilst Shota Kawaguchi (previously #15) has been replaced with Nestor Narvaes of Argentina.
This leaves the Flyweight division with Yaegashi as the champion, Teiken affiliated Roman Gonzalez (#1) as the top challenger ahead of top ranked Asian Nawaphon (#3). The rest of the Asian's in the top of the rankings are Noknoi (#4), Saludar (#7), Suguru Muranaka (#10), Rey Megrino (#11), Renan Trongco (#13) and Takuya Kogawa (#14).
The Super Flyweight division, with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai as champion, has seen a mandatory title fight called. This will see Srisaket fighting Teiken affiliated #1 challenger Carlos Cuadras or Mexico. With a mandatory sorted out we do expected plenty of changes in the near future but oddly the only actual changes in the top 15 are small. The first is that David Sanchez (#12) and Rex Tso (#13) have swapped places, the only other one is that Felipe Orucuta (#15) moves in the top 15 and climbs above Arthur Villanueva (who has dropped to #16).
The result of these few changes sees Asia losing 1 of the top 15 rankings though keeping 5 of them with Oleydong Sithsamerchai (#2) leading the pack and very little separating Malcolm Tunacao (#7), Ryo Akaho (#8) and Toshiyuki Igarashi (#9). Bringing up the rear, in terms of Asian's, is of course the "Wonder Boy" Tso (#13).
Amazingly there isn't a single change in the Bantamweight division. The biggest shock however is that the WBC refuse to rank Koki Kameda as they claim he's the WBA champion, an over-sight on their behalf for now.
The lack of changes at Bantamweight sees Shinsuke Yamanaka remain as champion ahead of #1 contender, and former opponent, Ryosuke Iwasa (#1), behind them is former Super Flyweight title holder Suriyan Sor Rungvisai (#2), Yamanaka's up coming challenger Stephane Jamoye (#3) of Belgium is the top European ranked fighter. Further down the top 15 we find Zhanat Zhakiyanov (#6), Rolly Matsushita (#7), Petch Sor Chitpattana (#9), Kohei Oba (#11) and Hiroki Shiino (#14) who will all be hoping to increase their rankings in the near future.
At Super Bantamweight there are numerous changes in the final part of the rankings. Fighters ranked from #1 to #9 are exactly as they were a month ago, oddly including Hozumi Hasegawa (#7) who will be fighting for the IBF title in April. At #10 we get the first change with Chris Avalos, of the USA, taking a place previously head by the tragic Oscar Gonzalez who passed after a recent fight. Behind Avalos we find Luis Orlando Del Valle (#11) exactly where he was last month, then we have Yasutaka Ishimoto (#12) who has moved up a place due to the demotion of Cesar Seda (#14, previously #12). Seda's demotion has pushed up Hugo Ruiz (#13 having previously been #14).
In terms of the Asian ranked fighters at 126lbs we have Nonito Donaire (#4) leading the way with Hasegawa (#7) the highest ranked Japanese fighter just 2 places ahead of OPBF champion, and fellow Japanese fighter Shingo Wake (#9). The third Japanese ranked fighter, and final Asian, is Ishimoto (#12).
The Featherweight division hasn't seen many changes. The first sees Britain's Lee Selby (#5) swapping places with American Ronny Rios (#6), the only other change sees Martin Lindsay (previously #14) dropping out. Lindsay dropping out has seen Mexican Romulo Koasicha (#14) moving up a place and also made room for Panamanian Jezreel Corrales (#15) of Panama.
Although only one Asian, Hisashi Amagasa (#11), is ranked in the top 15 at Featherweight the WBC do have the likes of Marvin Sonsona (#16), Satoshi Hosono (#17) and Bualang Sor Singyu (#19) all on the verges of the top rankings.
In the Super Featherweight division, where Takashi Miura is king, there are very few changes. The first has seen Javier Fortuna (#13) swap places with Logan McGuinness (#14) whilst another change has seen Emanuel Gonzalez (#15) move in to the top 15. From what we understand of Gonzalez his ranking is a true mystery and appears to make no sense at all.
In regards to Asian's it's disappointing that, aside from Miura, the only Asian ranked is Ryan Sermona (#12) of the Philippines. Further shocks are had if we look at the next highest ranked Asian, who is Kyohei Tamakoshi (#21).
At Lightweight where Omar Figueroa has finally been upgraded to regular champion, we find Asia more correctly represented however the rankings haven't changed a great deal from last month. We still see Daniel Estrada (#1) just ahead of Japan's Nihito Arakawa (#2), Arakawa's up coming opponent Teiken's Jorge Linares (#5) also maintains his high ranking, as does Takahiro Ao (#6). Outside of the top 6 however we do notice some changes with Emiliano Marsili (#7) climbing up from #9. Other changes have seen Marcelino Lopez (#8) climbing 2 places, Dejan Zlaticanin (#9) dropping one place, Ricardo Lopez (#10) being moved down a division after having been confirmed as a challenger for Figueroa's title, Ivan Redkach (#11) has climbed a place whilst Rustam Nugaev (#12) has remarkably dropped from #7. Interesting rankings for fighters ranked 13, 14 and 15 have stayed the same with Juan Diaz (#13), Masayoshi Nakatani (#14) and Alejandro Luna (#15) staying put.
The shake up in the Lightweight rankings has seen Thailand's Jomthong Chuwatana (#17) drop a shocking 6 places. This may be down to activity but it's still a huge drop. Thankfully though Asian's in the top #15 do, as mentioned, include Arakawa (#2), Ao (#6), Nugaev (#12) and Nakatani (#14) as well as Linares who is effectively an adoptive fighter of Japan.
At Light Welterweight the first change has seen Thomas Dulorme (#6) swapping places with Alberto Mosquera (#7), behind them we've seen Mauricio Herrera (#10) given a surprisingly big boost in his ranking and effectively dropping everyone else down and pushing Gabriel Bracero (previously #15) out of the rankings.
Disappointingly the the only Oriental fight in the top 15 at 140lbs is South Korean Min-Wook Kim (#9) who has stayed where he was a month ago, whilst Anton Novikov (#13) has just managed to hold on to his top 15 ranking. Sadly you need to go well down the rankings to find the next Asian fighter, Keita Obara (#33) who we feel is rather unfortunate to be so over-looked.
The Welterweight rankings have seen a major change in that Filipino hero Manny Pacquiao (previously #1) has been dropped completely from the rankings. This was an obvious move given that Pacquiao has signed to fight for the WBO title, though is still one that will likely upset the few fans who were hoping that the WBC would force a fight between Pacquiao and Mayweather.
As well as Pacquiao being stripped of his rankings there has been other changes. Obviously numerous fighters have moved up due to Pacquiao though we've also seen Jessie Vargas (previously #9) taken out of the rankings as he's signed for a WBA Light Welterweight title bout. We've also seen Aslanbek Kozaev (#10) jump 3 places up the rankings ahead of his US debut with Ray Robsinon on February 21st, we've also seen Yoshihiro Kamegai (#14) climb back in to the top #15. Kamegai's move has been caused by a division change of Filipino Denis Laurente (previously #14).
In regards to fighters that we have eyes on here we only have Kozaev and Kamegai in the top #15, though both David Avanesyan (#17) and Konstantin Ponomarev (#20) are on the verges of the top 15.
At Light Middleweight the first change, as it is in many divisions, is just a swap with Emanuele Della Rosa (#5) swapping with John Jackson (#6). That't the only change in the top 10 however we do see movement in the next tier of rankings. These have seen James Kirkland (previously #11) dropping 2 places and and as a result boosting both Anthony Mundine (#11) and Jermell Charlo (#12). Jermall Charlo (previously #15) has been stripped of his ranking for signing on to fight in an IBF title fighter so room has been made for Luciano Cuello (#15) to be ranked.
Unfortunately the only Asian ranked in the top 15 at 154lbs is Charlie Ota (#9) though just outside of the top 15 there is space for both Denis Laurente (#16) and Sherzod Husanov (#17).
The Middleweight division has just seen one change in the top 15 with Max Bursak (previously #10) being replaced by Curtis Stevens. Amazingly no other ranking has been changed or effected in the top 15.
The only fighter of note for us in the top #15 at Middleweight is Russian Andrey Meryasev (#9). Thankfully though there are fighters on the verge of the top 15 rankings with Matt Korobov (#17) and Ryota Murata (#24) both being just a big win away from being world ranked.
As with the Middleweight rankings, not a lot has changed at Super Middleweight. The key change is that Andre Dirrell (previously #11) has dropped out allowing fighters to move up one place. This whole process has opened up a gap for Frenchman Hadillah Mohoumadi (#15).
As for fighters that we follow, Super Middleweight only only really has Maxim Vlasvov (#5) from Russia anywhere near a title fight. Further away is Dimitri Sartison (#20) from Kazakhstan.
In the Light Heavyweight division the first change we noticed was that Roberto Bolonti (#8) had swapped with Dmitry Sukhotsky (#9). Below that Nadjib Mohammedi (#12) had dropped 2 places meaning both Eleider Alvarez (#10) and Sean Monaghan (#11) were moved up a place. With Cedric Agnew (previously #13) signing to fight WBO champion Sergey Kovalev a space was made for new entrant Thomas Williams Jr (#14)
As for Asian fighters at 175lbs the best we've got are Russian's with Denis Grachev (#7) and Sukhostky (#9) both getting into the top 10.
Cruiserweight contenders are lead by Rakhim Chakhkiev (#1) who is where he was a month ago, strangely though we've seen Thabiso Mchunu (#2) and Grigory Drozd (#3) switch places. Bellow the top 3 we've seen the emergence of Ilunga Makabu (#5) whose victory over Olanrewaja Durodola (#8, previously #6) was a big one. The movement of Makabu has seen the likes of Silvio Branco (#6) and Tony Bellew (#7) dropping a place. As well as those changes there is a number of shake ups in the bottom part of the top #15 with both Ola Afolabi (#14, previously #10( and Giacobbe Fragomeni (#15, previously #11) getting the worst of it.
For us the Cruiserweight's of note are of course Chakhkiev (#1), Drozd (#3) as well as Murat Gassiev (#13) who are all in the top 15.
At Middleweight the only change is that Artur Szpilka (previously #15) has been dropped from the elite and replaced by Frenchman Carlos Takam (#15). As with last month this sees us with Manuel Charr (#6) as "our" only representative in the top #15. Interestingly Kyotaro Fujimoto (#24) is very well ranked for a Japanese Heavyweight and a victory by Nobuhiro Ishida of Fujimoto would leave the WBC with a very interesting question on their hands.
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