On Sunday we finished our Fighter of the Decade countdown, and now we look towards the future with out prediction of who will be the top 10 at the end of this coming decade. Before we start however we'll just reflect slightly.
For the decade we've just seen finish 2 of the top 10, including the winner, actually debuted after the decade began. The other 8 fighters had all debuted before the decade began, with 7 fighters debuting between 2000 and 2009 and 1, Manny Pacquiao, debuting in the 1990's. It's worth noting that two of those in our top 10 debuted in 2009, so essentially 40% of those making it into the top 10 debuted in either the final year of the decade, or in the decade it's self.
Only 3 of the top 10 went unbeaten during the decade, so an unbeaten record isn't necessary to claim a top 10 spot. Also there was 4 men who didn't move weight, showing that good enough competition and dominance in 1 weight class is enough to claim a place on the list. It does however help to have the ability to move through the weights, with that clearly being a big factor for several fighters.
Despite debuting in 2018 we don't expect many fight fans to be aware of Phoobadin Yoohanngoh, but the Thai teenager is someone well and truly worth attention, and is a long term one to watch. He's still only a teenager, and will be for a chunk of the decade, but the 130lb youngster is someone with a lot of potential and he showed that potential in 2019 when he won "The Fighter" tournament. He's still very young, and very much a work in progress, but he has time on his side a lot of room for development and the backing of a notable Thai promoter, with TL Promotion behind him. This is very much a left of center choice, but when looking at this coming decade we are looking at young fighters looking to make their mark over the coming years, and Phoobadin is just that type of fighter.
Having debuted in 2018 Ginjiro Shigeoka has got himself into a great position as we enter the decade. He is already a regional champion and looks likely to fight for a world title in the first year of the decade. At just 20 years old he has time on his side, and we mean a lot of time on his side, and we wouldn't be surprised to see him fight right through the decade, giving him 20 or so fights to build up his record. He has spoken about wanting to run up 20 defenses and given his frame there's a real possibility that he will only really fight in 1 weight class. We rate Shigeoka highly in terms of skills and potential, but his diminutive size will limit his potential to climb up the rankings.
Few Filipino prospects have shown that they have the tools to fly the flag over the next decade or so, but one that has is Dave Apolinario, who has skills, youth, speed and a boxing brain. The youngster was 20 when the decade began, giving him a full decade in the sport to come, and he has all the tools to develop a very credible career off of. So far he is pretty untested, but in reality that's expected to chance in 2020 and 2021 before he climbs through the ranks and begins to mix at a much higher level. In recent years he's been fighting at Flyweight, though could likely move up a couple of divisions before his career is over. He won't be fast tracked like some, but will certainly be worthy of attention when he hits his prime.
For the last decade Naoya Inoue took the #1 place for this decade however we see him sliding down the rankings a lot. Part of that is to do with his age, and what we see him achieving over the next decade. Entering the decade the "Monster" is 26 years old, so if he complete the full decade he'll be 36 by the end of it. We suspect that he'll probably finish his career a year or two before that, and he has mentioned retiring at the age of 35. Of course that is pretty much the full decade, so he has the potential to do a lot but with age and accumulated damage there's a chance he won't be mega active right through the decade. There's also the fact we suspect his maximum effective weight is going to be Featherwieght, which gives him only another 2 weight classes to conqueror. What he did last decade is impressive but has little bearing on what he'll do this decade, other than starting him at Bantamweight. We expect a big decade for Inoue, but not something that matches up with what he did in the 10's.
As mentioned previously 2 of the fighters who made it into the top 10 of the previous decade hadn't debuted by the start of the debut. With that in mind we should look at the fighters who haven't turned professional yet, but could do in the next couple of years. One such fighter is Hayato Tsutsumi, who currently 20 years old, still an amateur and at 5'7" has the size to move through a few divisions. He'll not turn professional until late this year, at the earliest, and could well have the backing of some very significant players in the Japanese when he does turn professional. We see Tsutsumi as being the Japanese ace of the future. Whilst we acknowledge it's a big call putting him this high up the list all signs point towards him being able to make a huge impact in the next decade.
Two things that really are key in how we can rank someone is their age as we enter the decade, and their ability to move through weight classes. Few fighters have the upside in those two categories as Junto Nakatani. He was 21 when the decade began, turning 22 on January 2nd, and standing at 5'7" he has the natural size to fill out his frame and move through the weight as he ages and matures. Just to put into some perspective just how big Nakatani the young southpaw he's more than 1" taller than Nonito Donaire, who managed to have success at Bantamweight. Whilst we're not expecting Nakatani to be the next Donaire we do expect him to be a major star in the next decade and a multi-weight world champion. He has all the tools to be one of the biggest names in Japanese boxing and fit in excess of 20 fights into the decade.
As with Hayato Tsutsumi we're picking outside the box again and looking towards amateur standouts with this pick as Thai teenager Atichai Phoemsap deserves a serious mention for the future. The 19 year old is a standout amateur, a truly brilliant little youngster who has already won gold at the Youth Olympics, World Youth Championships and Asian Youth championships in 2018. Of course amateur success on the Youth scene doesn't guarantee anyone success in the professional ranks, but from what we've seen of Atichai he has the potential to be a star in the professional ranks. Don't be surprised if he turns pro in a year or two and is raced through the ranks, backed by a strong promoter in Thailand and moved in a very aggressive manner. Entering the decade as a teenager and with serious potential Atichai is the dark horse to be a major player in the 20's.
If Uzbek fighter Israil Madrimov was just 2 years younger we would have placed him better on this list, but with his 25th birthday coming in February he'll be in his mid 30's by the end of the decade, and given his style is a very athletic based one we suspect he will be sliding by the end of the decade. Madrimov is a true athletic freak. He's quick, has great stamina, speed, timing, balance and power. Scarily he keeps those traits whether he's fighting orthodox or southpaw and he's going to be a very, very hard man to beat. Along with his age we are also concerned about his lack of stature, and at 5′ 8½″ his ability to move up the scales is limited. We suspect he has the natural tools to make a mark all the way up to Light Heavyweight, late in his career, but he'll likely struggle up there at 175lbs against naturally bigger, stronger men.
At 23 year old when we enter the decade we suspect that Uzbek Bektemir Melikuziev will have a better decade than his slightly older compatriot Israil Madrimov, though we suspect the two men will have very similar careers overall. The big punching, body snatching Melikuziev broke into the pros in June 2019 and ended the decade 4-0 (3) having proven that he can box, move, bang, brawl and fight. Oh and he can pretty much send an opponents stomach out of their body with a shot to the midsection. Although not quite the athletic freak that Madrimov is we see more technical polish with Melikuziev and with the slight age difference and slight height difference he just has those little advantages that we suspect could split the two men at the end of 2029.
Aged just 21 as we started the decade Sadriddin Akhmedov has the world at at his finger tips. He's entered the decade 11-0 (10) and appears to be the all-round star that Kazakhstan needs to replace the ageing Gennady Golovkin. He's heavy handed, technically very good, aggressive, exciting and knows how to box safely when he needs to. We do wonder whether Eye of the Tiger Management have the power to push him to the very, very top, but we suspect they will work with a bigger promoter, if needed, to net Akhmedov the top fights he needs to make the decade his. Given his youth he will fill out his frame and move quite easily from 154lbs to 160lbs and potentially all the way up to 175lbs. This young man is a very, very special fighter and someone we advise every fight to be following very closely going forward.
Turning professional part way through the decade was always going to make it difficult to be the Fighter of the Decade, but by the end of the 10's there was one Asian fighter on the lips of pretty much every fight fans. Naoya Inoue.
Making his debut in 2012 put him at a disadvantage to those who came into the decade as a known name, but within just 2 years he had gone from debut to world champion, almost instantly putting himself on an even playing field to the more experienced fighters.
Even fighting in the "midget divisions", as certain fans deride them, Inoue has managed to capture the attention of the boxing world during the decade. His fights have become events, and they have managed to attract attention from hardcore fans right around the globe. No other "little man" can say that.
Whilst Inoue was turning heads due to his destructive power and frightening KO's he was also running up an impressive list of achievements. He tied the Japanese record for fewest fights to a domestic title, winning the Japanese Light Flyweight title in his 4th bout from a future unified world champion. He set a new Japanese record record for fewest fights to a world title, 6, then set the Japanese record for fewest fights to 2 and 3 division world titles. Whilst some of his records have been broken, by Kosei Tanaka, he was the standard bearer than Tanaka tried to match. He was also the one travelling for fights. In fact he became the first Japanese fighter to ever win a world title bout in Europe, and is the first man from his homeland to win world title bouts in 3 different continents.
Of course we've done this primarily on results and competition. 19-0 (16) is pretty close to flawless. Then add in that he notched wins against Taguchi, as mentioned, Adrian Hernandez, Omar Andres Narvaez, Kohei Kono, Jamie McDonnell, Juan Carlos Payano, Emmanuel Rodriguez and Nonito Donaire and you have a strong to back up the numbers. In fact only the only other case of one of our top 10 beating another top 10 was Donnie Nietes' win over Kazuto Ioka.
Impressively Inoue went 14-0 (12) in world title bouts for the decade, won titles from all 4 world title bodies and showed that the little guys can bang, just as well as they can box. In fact stoppages over Narvaez, Kono, McDonnell, Payano and Rodriguez saw him becoming the first man to stop those 5 world class fighters, and between them they lasted just 12 rounds. That's dominance and destruction of world class opposition.
Whilst other fights may have had more attention during the decade it's hard to argue that anyone else from Asia has made the decade theirs quite like Inoue. He remained unbeaten, he moved through the weights, he captured the minds of fight fans, and he fought world class opposition. The only niggle is that his Super Flyweight reign didn't see him face the other top guys, though his competition at Bantamweight has made up for that in style.
If a fighter's decade could ever be criminally under-rated it's that of Filipino great Donnie Nietes, who did what none of his countrymen managed. He was consistent though the decade, racking up wins, remaining active and moving up through the weights with success. He made one ridiculously stupid decision in 2019, which has seen him essentially sitting out the year, but his body of work over the whole decade has been tremendous and he is, for us, the Filipino fighter of the decade, and #2 on our Asian fighter of the Decade count down.
To begin the decade Nietes was the WBO Minimumweight champion, and had been since September 2007 when he beat Pornsawan Porpramook. He had entered the decade 25-1-3 (14), with 3 world title defenses under his belt. By the end of the decade he had become a 4-weight champion with a string of impressive names on his record, and wins around the globe, becoming a low key road warrior, and a staple of the lower weight classes. He didn't get the acclaim of Nonito Donaire or Manny Pacquiao, due to fighting in the lower weight classes, but his achievements, skills, record for the decade all stand up to scrutiny.
Nietes kicked off the decade with a none-title fight against Jesus Silvestre, who went on to be in the world title mix for a good chunk of the decade and arguably deserves to be the WBA Minimumweight champion in 2013 when he lost a razor thin decision to Ryo Miyazaki. He would then go on to defend his WBO Minimumweight title against future IBF champion Mario Rodriguez, travelling to Mexico for the bout. A move up to Light Flyweight in 2011 saw him claim the WBO title, beating Ramon Garcia Hirales, and he made a string of defenses against the likes of Moises Fuentes, Francisco Rodriguez Jr and Raul Garcia.
Another move up in 2016 saw Nietes defeat Edgar Sosa, Komgrich Nantapech and Juan Carlos Reveco, becoming a 3 weight champion thanks to the IBF Flyweight title before defeating Kazuto Ioka at the end of 2018 to become the WBO Super Flyweight champion, and a champion in his 4th weight class.
In 19 bouts during the decade Nietes has gone 17-0-2 (9), beaten a string of notable lower weight fighters, and moved through the weights. He may not have the huge names on his record that others do, but wins over Fuentes, Rodriguez Jr, Ioka, Reveco, Sosa, even an old Sosa, are very solid. He took the decade and punched his way into Filipino history books, in what has been a brilliant decade for "Ahas", who aged like a fine wine. It's just huge shame that he failed to top it off with any fights at all in 2019 given how big his win over Ioka was at the end of 2018.
When most top smaller men retire in their early 30's Neites was still beating top fighters the wrong side of 35, and was doing it not on power and speed, but on boxing IQ and skills, and that is a real testament to how good "Ahas" has been through decade.
One of the stellar names of Asian boxing over the last 10 years or so has been Gennady Golovkin who had a great decade. During the 00's Golovkin went 22-1-1 (20), scored wins in Panama, Kazakhstan, Germany, Ukraine, USA, Monaco and the UK and unified the WBC, WBO and IBF Middleweight titles. He did all that whilst struggling, for much of the decade, to secure bouts with the best fighters in the division.
After missing out on bouts with the likes of Felix Sturm, Arthur Abraham, Sergio Martinez, Peter Quillin, Andy Lee and Billy Joe Saunders it seemed that Golovkin had to make do with top contenders, rather than fellow champions for much of his prime years. By the time the top fighters, such as Daniel Jacobs and Saul Alvarez, were willing to get in to the ring with Golovkin he was in his mid 30's and looking like a man who was starting to slip. Things were also not helped by a unification bout with Dmitry Pirog falling through in 2012, before Pirog was forced to retire due to injury.
Having struggled to get top competition Golovkin's record is littered with decent contenders, like Matthew Macklin, Martin Murray, Marco Antonio Rubio,Vanes Martirosyan and Sergiy Derevyanchenko, along with former title holders, like Daniel Geale, Kassim Ouma. Wins over David Lemieux and Kell Brook looked good at the time, but went on to age badly and really didn't enhance his record, on reflection. At least not in the way his 2017 win over Daniel Jacobs, and controversial draw against Saul Alvarez.
Talk of moving up in weight had some intrigued in whether Golovkin's power could carry up to 168lbs, especially for a bout with Andre Ward, but we never found out whether he could have success in a second weight class as he chose not to chase a second divisional title. This was a big shame, as he could have had a much more interest prime rather than the busy but unfulfilling prime we saw Kazakh have.
Whilst it's easy to hate on Golovkin's competition his performances were often brilliant. He was always exciting to watch, with thunder in his hands and a boulder in his chin. He put on the "Big Drama Show" and opened the door to Central Asian fighters to follow, holding the door open for the likes of Ali Akhmedov, Israil Madrimov, Sadriddin Akhmedov and others. His importance in boxing is likely to be felt for a long, long time after his retirement and his success cannot be questioned.
We suspect that the boxing world will be incredibly thankful for what Golovkin did, proving that Central Asian fighters can be stars in the west, but the big hope is that those top fighters from the former Soviet States, won't struggle for career defining bouts when they are in their physical prime.
We know we'll get some stick for having the legendary "Pacman" so low on this countdown, and we understand that their will be some backlash, but bear with us whilst we explain why Manny Pacquiao fails to break the top 3.
Let us start by saying that official results were a key part of the criteria we used, not the media and consensus results, but the actual, official results. With that in mind Pacquiao has gone 12-4 (1) for the decade. Their can be debate about his losses to Timothy Bradley and Jeff Horn, the official results show losses, just like they show a win for his third bout with Juan Manuel Marquez.
By it's self those numbers only tell half a story, but when we figure out who some of those wins have come against things begin to stack up against Pacquiao. Wins over Joshua Clottey, a 39 year old Shane Mosley, Brandon Rios, Chris Algieri, Jessie Vargas, Lucas Matthyse and even Adrien Broner, don't really leave us with a fighter of the decade resume. Wins over Keith Thurman, Timothy Bradley, Juan Manuel Marquez and Antonio Margarito are however excellent, it's just a shame there is such a drop off between his top few wins and the rest.
Also the fact Pacquiao's performance, for much of the decade, felt like he was dialling it in didn't help. There was certainly fights where he looked brilliant, but the wins over Mosley, Algieri and Rios seemed very much like a guy who was missing his top gear. As did his loss to Jeff Horn, where he only managed to put his foot on the gas for a few rounds.
The fact Pacquiao beat Keith Thurman in 2019 was amazing, but the fact he hadn't managed that level of performance through the decade did come back to bite him here in our rankings.
Had this list been compiled on what a fighter had done since the year 2000, or from 2000 to 2009, Pacquiao would have topped the list. That was the decade where he planted himself on the boxing world, won world titles from 122lbs to 147lbs, and took out hall of fame level competition regularly. That was the decade where he smashed Marco Antonio Barrera, broke down Erik Morales, battered Miguel Cotto, destroyed Ricky Hatton, and crushed Oscar Dela Hoya. During that same decade he went 23-1-2 (20). Comparing the two decades it's remarkable just how different Pacquaio and his performances where.
Although no where near as impressive as he was in the previous decade Pacquiao continued to entertain, score notable wins and, even at the age of 40, proved he was still one of the top fighters in the world. His 2019 win over Keith Thurman was incredible, and earlier in the decade, when he beat Antonio Margarito, it was impossible no to be impressed. Sadly though too much of the decade was spent fighting faded forces or less names to push Pacquiao further up this list. He is however, strengthening his legendary status with every win.
Much like countryman Takashi Uchiyama, we saw Shinsuke Yamanaka enter the decade as a virtual unknown outside of his homeland, yet go on to make a a huge statement, and become the man who many regarded as the best in his division. Unlike Uchiyama however Yamanaka did it from an even lesser stand point, and scored more wins that resonated internationally.
At the start of the decade Yamanaka was still fighting in 8 rounders, blasting out Kazuharu Morimoto inside a round in his first bout of the decade. A fight later and he was the Japanese champion, stopping Mikio Yasuda for the title. His reign was a short one, but included a tremendous 2011 win over future world champion Ryosuke Iwasa. Just 8 months after making his sole defense of the Japanese title Yamanaka would get his first world title bout, and would stop Christian Esquivel in 11 rounds to claim the WBC title, and begin a legendary reign.
Going through the early part of Yamanaka's reign reads like a who's who of the lower weights from the turn of the decade. His first defense saw him out point Vis Darchinyan, before scoring a KO of the Year contender of Tomas Rojas. In his third defense he stopped former WBO Flyweight champion Malcolm Tunacao, giving the Filipino only his second ever stoppage loss.
Sadly his reign then took a nose dive, and opponents like Jose Nieves, Alberto Guevara and Stephane Jamoye did little for Yamanaka's legacy.
Thankfully his reign picked up again towards the end with really solid wins over Suriyan Por Chokchai, Anselmo Moreno, twice, and Liborio Solis. Those wins were big, career enhancing victories with the second Yamanaka fight and the Solis one, being particularly exciting bouts with both men being dropped.
Sadly Yamanaka's great reign came to an end in 2017 when he lost to Luis Nery, who had failed a pre-fight drugs test. A rematch with an over-weight Nery in 2018 saw Yamanaka lose again, to end his career with back to back losses to the same man, a lot like Uchiyama did with Jezreel Corrales.
Although technically a very flawed fighter, and a very basic one, Yamanaka's success and wins over notable fighters earns him a high ranking here. He wasn't a true pound-for-pound boxer, he was far too limited for that, but what he did was fight to his strengths, make the most of his dynamite left hand and had great success despite his technical limitations. Although it's harsh to say it, Yamanaka was a genuine over-achiever, and legitimately became one of the biggest Asian stars of the decade.
For those who haven't seen much of Yamanaka, we've included his wins over
On paper Nonito Donaire's 18-5 record for the decade is rather dire, but the reality is that he did more in the decade than most will realise. He went up and down the scales, one of the very few fighters to actually have success whilst going back down in weight, and proved to be incredibly competitive in mid 30's, years after many wrote him off. He is a man who has revived his career multiple times in the decade and proven so much more than many would have realised during a 10 year span that saw him move from Super Flyweight all the way up to Featherweight, then back down to Bantamweight. Not did he do that, but he took some big scalps along the way and remained one of the most classy and humble competitors the sport has ever seen.
Beginning the decade Donaire had abandoned the Flyweight division and had just claimed the WBA "interim" Super Flyweight title, stopping Rafael Concepcion. He didn't remain at 115lbs for long, though did take a very notable TKO8 win over Hernan Marquez before leaving the division to compete at Bantamweight. It was at Bantamweight that he looked his best, dominating Volodymyr Sydorenko in his Bantamweight debut before scoring a sensational win over Fernando Montiel, to claim the WBC and WBO Bantamweight titles. His pursuit of a challenge saw him unify the WBO and IBF Super Bantamweight titles, winnign the WBO belt from Wilfredo Vazquez Jr before beating Jeffrey Mathebula for the IBF title. Sadly his reign at 122lbs left something to be desired, as he went legend chasing with wins over Toshiaki Nishioka and Jorge Arce, rather than legacy chasing.
A loss to Guillermo Rigondeaux in 2013 lead Donaire to move up to Featherweight where he looked poor, yet still ended up picking up the WBA title. Wins over Vic Darchinyan and Simpiwe Vetyeka came in some poor performances and a loss to Nicholas Walters showed that the weight wasn't a good one for the "Filipino Flash" who moved back down to Super Bantamweight and reclaimed the WBO title there. The reign was a short one, losing a very competitive bout in his second defense against Jessie Magdaleno, and it was here that many thought he was a spent fight. A loss to Carl Frampton in 2018 seemed to further prove that.
After the loss to Frampton we saw Donaire move back down to Bantamweight to compete in the WBSS and was given no chance by many and was a 34/1 outsider for the tournament. Many thought that a former Featherweight champion making Bantamweight was going to be too much, but the reality is that he made the weight really well and looked big, strong, powerful and tough. A nightmare for anyone. He would defeat the much fancied Ryan Burnett, the #1 seed and the #2 favourite, in his quarter final bout and then stop Stephon Young toe reach the final, where he gave Naoya Inoue a real test.
It's expected that Donaire will get another big fight in 2020, and we wouldn't be surprised at all if he ended up picking up another world title. Even in his late 30's he still looks a real handful and has had a very impressive decade, no matter what his record states.
As with many fighters included on this list, Kazuto Ioka would not have been mentioned, at all, on a list for the previous decade. Prior to 2010 Ioka was 3-0 (2). He was very, very, highly touted but a total professional novice with no profile outside of his homeland. Today however he is the first Japan man to win world titles in 4 weight classes, and he is a man who, in a relatively short amount of time, has run up a really impressive resume.
Ioka's first title was the Japanese Light Flyweight title, in October 2010, and since then he has really been a staple at world level. He took his first world title by beating the then 35-0-1 Oleydong Sithsamerchai, made his first defense against future WBC Flyweight champion Juan Hernandez and unified the WBC and WBA titles with Akira Yaegashi. That alone was impressive, but to then go up in weight, claim he WBA Light Flyweight title and score several defenses, including an excellent one of current world champion Felix Alvarado, was great. He of course came up short in his first shot at a Flyweight title, but eventually found his groove in the division and scored 2 wins over Juan Carlos Reveco. A short retirement in 2017/2018 followed before he again impressed in a new weight, beating McWilliams Arroyo, and later claimed the WBO Super Flyweight title. That's the title he defended at the end of 2019, beating 2-time Olympian Jeyvier Cintron, in what was the final title fight of the decade.
With 2 losses, to go along side his 22 wins for the decade Ioka has been active, he's moved through the weights, he's claimed wins over notable opponents, unified titles, and become a genuine star. The early potential he showed has been realised, and realised in impressive fashion.
Sadly for Ioka, and as with a number of other fighters on this list, the number of poor defenses pulls him down the ranking. Wins over the likes of Yodgoen Tor Chalermchai, Wisanu Kokietgym, Noknoi Sitthiprasert and Keyvin Lara, did little to show he wanted to consistently prove himself. They showed that whilst he was happy with the big names, they weren't his biggest focus. Sadly this likely comes down to the Ioka team in general, who fed Kazuto some poor defenses, but at the end of the day we expect more from our top ranking guys on this list. His pursuit of big bouts in the new decade is great, and he's made it clear he wants to face Juan Francicsco Estrada in 2020, but the fact those types of bouts didn't come off in the last decade are a real shame.
Thankfully since leaving his father's guidance Ioka has shown a willingness to prove himself again, and hopefully that will continue into the new decade with the big fights someone of his ability and popularity deserves.
Thailand's Srisaket Sor Rungvisai has had a truly bizarre decade. Officially he debuted in 2009, and was 1-2-1 when the decade began. He then lost to Kenji Oba in his first bout of the decade, before going on two very notable runs. The first of those runs saw him going 26-0 (24) and the second 22-0 (16), with both seeing him win a world title before the runs ended. His career really came alive, in a huge way, due to a 3 fight series in the second run, though over 40 of his 48 wins during the decade were poor, at best.
As mentioned he began the decade with a loss to Kenji Oba, in Japan. He would then slowly carve out a career on the Thai domestic scene, being matched against novices, local foes, and low level journeyman. His first title came in June 2011, when he picked up the WBC Asian Boxing Council Super Flyweight title, winning a belt that had previously been held by Chatchai Sasakul and Medgoen Singsurat. He would defend that belt 4 times whilst slowly climbing up the WBC rankings. Whilst he was climbing up the ladder his friend and stablemate Suriyan Sor Rungvisai was holding the WBC world title. A title he lost to Yota Sato in 2012. Due to a contractual agreement Srisaket was then able to get a shot at Sato, which he won in 8 impressive rounds. This was the high point of Srisaket's first lengthy unbeaten run, though his reign was forgettable, with just a single defense, against Hirofumi Mukai, before he lost the belt in 2014 to Carlos Cuadras in a technical decision in Mexico.
His first reign went completely over-looked by many fans in the West, though it kept him very much towards the top of the WBC rankings, and a win over Jose Salgado in an eliminator assured him of a second title fight. That second title fight came almost 2 years after he beat Salgado and saw him upsetting the then 46-0 Roman Gonzalez, taking a razor thin majority decision to become a 2-time world champion. It's this reign that really put Srisaket on the map as he followed up the decision win over Gonzalez with a 4th KO of the Nicaraguan and then a decision win over Juan Francisco Estrada.
If a fighter was ranked for just their 3 best wins during the decade, those 3 would have Srisaket bang on top. For us there is no one who can match that series of wins, not just in Asia but anywhere in the sport. Sadly though hos second reign, like his first, ended up petering out, with only 1 other defense, against Iran Diaz, before he lost in a rematch to Estrada. Sadly that rematch with Estrada, way back in April 2019, was Srisaket's only bout in the final year of the decade, a real shame for a man who had so much activity through the rest of the decade.
Over the course of a decade Srisaket has 3 massive wins, 2 good wins, and over 40 wins against very opposition. His style, a marauding, aggressive, heavy handed southpaw, has always been amazing to watch, but the reality is that his decade, on reflection, was full of inconsistencies and 5 wins aside he did little over the course of 10 years. He earns his place on this list due to his big wins, but we can't help thinking it's a real shame we didn't see more of him in big bouts, be it at home, in the US, Mexico or Japan. He was in a position to fight in some great fights, but voluntary defenses against Mukai and Diaz did little to enhance his reputation.
At the turn of the decade few outside of Japan would have known who Takashi Uchiyama was. By the mid-point of the decade however he was a living legend of the Japanese boxing scene, one of their most successful champions, a key figure for the Watanabe gym and one of the few Japanese fighters to make a name for themselves in one of the divisions that US and European fans care about. Sadly he did miss out on the fame and world wide acclaim of another Japanese Featherweight, Takashi Miura, but few would question Uchiyama's success and his longevity in the division.
Going in to the decade Uchiyama's most notable achievement was winning the OPBF Super Featherweight title in 2007 with an 8th round KO of Nedal Hussein. He had racked up 5 defenses of the title as we got to the decade, but was still an relative unknown outside of Asian boxing circles.. Amazingly however it took just 11 days for him to kick off his decade in style, stopping Juan Carlos Salgado in the final seconds to claim the WBA Super Featherweight title. He would on to that title with a cast iron grip until 2016, when he lost back to back bouts to Jezreel Corrales and ended his career.
At the time Uchiyama's reign was pretty under-acknowledged in the West, due to his career being fought almost entirely on TV Tokyo in a day and age when streams were less prevalent and far less clear in terms of quality than they are now. Despite that he scored very noteworthy wins over not only Salgado but also future WBC champion Takashi Miura, former WBA "interim" champion Jorge Solis, multi-time WBA "interim" champion Bryan Vasquez and former Japanese champion Daiki Kaneko.
The one thing Uchiyama really missed out on was a big fight. A truly big fight. There had been discussions for him to face Mikey Garcia, and for him to fight on US soil, but for whatever reason nothing ever came of it, and by the time his career finished, in 2016, it felt like could have done much more. He was a star in Japan, but he certainly had the skills, personality and style to have been a success in the West as well as at home. Given the lack of a divisional super fight, the failure to land an international bout and the lack of a second divisional title he ranks lowly here, but without a doubt he was a top, top fighter.
Uchiyama's career was also hurt by fighting on second rate channel, TV Tokyo, which limited his domestic audience. He was a star, but with the backing of a TBS, NTV or Fuji TV we suspect he would have been much, much bigger.
Technically Uchiyama was very solid, though his skills are often over-looked due to his tremendously powerful right hand. The fact he fought most of his career though various injuries underlines how good he was, but it is a shame that the top Western fighters of the era didn't get in the ring with him. Uchiyama against the likes of Mikey Garcia, Orlando Salido or Roman Martinez would have been very interesting.
During the decade Uchiyama went 11-2-1 (10), with all of those bouts coming in world title fights.
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features