One of the best division's in the sport right now is the Super Flyweight division, which has been delivering some great fights over the last few years, some frustrations and plenty of twists. It's a division that has probably under-delivered in recent years, yet has still managed to give us things like Srisaket Sor Rungvisai Vs Roman Gonzalez, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai Vs Juan Francisco Estrada, Donnie Neites Vs Kazuto Ioka. Give the make up of the division right now we expect big things from it in 2020, especially with the talk of certain champions who appear to be hunting the other top guys.
WBC - Juan Francisco Estrada (40-3, 27)
Mexican fighter Juan Francisco Estrada is quite probably the best fighter in the division, and certainly has the strongest claim as the #1. He is a wonderfully talented boxer-puncher who has had notable success at Flyweight, where he held unified titles, and Super Flyweight, where he beat Srisaket Sor Rungvisai to claim the WBC title last year. Although not a huge puncher he's a clean accurate hitter and gets respect from everyone he faces due to his effectiveness. It'll take a special fighter to dethrone Estrada who is still maturing, and is only 29 years old.
WBO - Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14)
Although Estrada is probably the #1 in the division he's probably not actually the most distinguished fighter holding a title at Super Flyweight. That is, arguably, Kazuto Ioka who is now a 4 weight world champion, having won titles from 105lbs all the way up to 115lbs. The talented Ioka is a Japanese star who attracts multi-million viewing numbers for his bouts and has proven to be a smart boxer-puncher himself. He's not quite as fluid or versatile as Estrada but is quite possibly the sport's most under-rated body puncher, and with Ismael Salas behind him he's continually adding to his box of tricks.
IBF - Jerwin Ancajas (32-1-2, 22)
Filipino southpaw Jerwin Ancajas burst on to the scene with a big upset win against McJoe Arroyo in September 2016, making him the longest reigning current world champion in the division. Sadly he is also the most frustrating. He's been active, and defended the title in 4 continents, but his competition has generally been poor. There were big money offers on the table to unify with the then WBO champion Naoya Inoue early in his reign, and whilst that would have been a real beating for Ancajas, he's seemingly managed to avoid all the big fish in the division. Whether that's good management, taking the most money for the least pain, is up to debate but the reality is the once promising reign of Ancajas has meandered into meaningless. With 7 defenses under his belt the feeling is that he, and his team, are happy to keep the belt without truly testing their man. Frustratingly his next mandatory will likely come against a man who he dominated in 2018, meaning little is likely to change in terms of the quality of Ancajas's reign.
WBA - Kal Yafai (26-0, 15)
English Kal Yafai has also had a frustrating reign as the WBA champion. He's held the WBA title for over 3 years, made 5 defenses and still lacks a legitimate super fight. In fact he's yet to really prove himself as a champion. In 2018 he narrowly scraped by Israel Gonzalez, and despite lots of talk about big fights he's yet to land one. The talk now is a title defense against Roman Gonzalez, and whilst that would be big, it's a shame it's taken over 3 years for us to get to that point. Whilst not everything is Yafai's fault, and a proposed bout with Estrada falling through due to an injury to the Mexican isn't his fault, it very much feels like he has milked the title for all it's worth and only began seeking challenges when his back has been forced against the wall.
As we write this today only 3 of the world title bodies have a world champion at Super Flyweight, and in fact there is no WBA shenanigans to give us interim, regular or super champions. The WBO title will see it's vacancy filled on December 31st when Kazuto Ioka (23-1, 13) faces Donnie Nietes (41-1-5, 23).
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-4-1, 41) - WBC (3 defenses)
Thailand's Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, also known as Wisaksil Wangek, is enjoying his second reign as the WBC Super Flyweight champion. The 32 year old southpaw came to the attention of the international boxing world in 2017, when he surprised everyone and upset Roman Gonzalez. For many that was the first they had seen of the rugged, heavy handed Thai, but he had actually first won the WBC title way back in 2013, when he had stopped Yota Sato, and had shown his value with another notable win against Jose Salgado. Since reclaiming the title Srisaket has beaten Gonzalez a second time and Juan Francisco Estrada. Although not the most technical fighter Sriskaet is a total handful due to his physical strength, power and work rate. We're expecting Srisaket to have at least one monster bout in 2019, either a rematch with Estrada or a unification bout with Ancajas, so 2019 could be another huge year for the Thai.
Jerwin Ancajas (30-1-2, 20) - IBF (6 defenses)
Filipino fighter Jerwin Ancajas is a fighter who seems unlikely to remain at Super Flyweight for low, but the Southpaw has already had a lot of success whilst there. He won the IBF title in September 2016 and has already notched 6 defenses, including wins against Teiru Kinoshita, Jamie Conlan and Jonas Sultan. Sadly however Ancajas' last couple of results, an uninspiring decision win over Sultan and a fortunate draw against Alejandro Santiago Barrios have taken a lot off gloss from his career. On paper his current run of 17-0-1 (15) looks fantastic but the performances haven't always matched up to his ability and his match making at times has been dreary to say the least. The hope is that better competition will draw a better performance from Ancajas. The talk is that he will either defend his title against in a unification bout with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai or will make a mandatory defense against Japan's Ryuichi Funai next time out.
Kal Yafai (25-0, 15) - WBA (4 defenses)
Unbeaten Englishman Khalid "Kal" Yafai is highly regarded by the British media but the 29 year old has to really live up to the expectations that many have for him. He won the WBA title in December 2016 and has defended it against the likes of Sho Ishida, David Carmona and Israel Gonzalez. For a reign that's already over 2 years long that's awful competition. He's supposedly wanting to face Roman Gonzalez in the new year, though he may instead have to settle for a mandatory defense against Norberto Jimenez, in what would again be a disappointing defenses. Although clearly talented questions remain as to whether Yafai has already peaked, has started to slide or may even be needing to move up in weight. He's shown a lack of power at world level, and not the most fun style either. He's clearly a very good fighter, but we've been genuinely disappointed by his reign.
Takahiro Onaga is a regular contributor to Asian Boxing and will now be a featured writer in his own column where his takes his shot at various things in the boxing world.