Whilst many fans, especially those in the West, openly over-look some of the lower weight classes, it's hard to deny the fact that the Light Flyweight division is one of, if not the, most interesting division in the sport right now. It has the best overall variety of champions, and although it has lacked unification bouts it has seen the champions facing top contenders on a regular basis. The style match ups, not just of possible bouts but of fights we've been getting in recent years, have been interesting and the division looks set to have another stellar year.
With that in mind lets take a look at the champions at 108lbs, including a fantastic "regular" champion.
WBC - Kenshiro Teraji (17-0, 10)
Quite possibly the face of the division right now is WBC champion Kenshiro Teraji, who has made 7 defenses of his title and done so against some genuine world class fighters. The talented Japanese fighter took the belt in May 2017 and since then has defended it against Pedro Guervara, Ganigan Lopez, Milan Melindo, Jonathan Taconing and Randy Petalcorin. He's an excellent little boxer-puncher and since winning the title has developed into a real talent, who judges distance well and has some of the most under-rated body punching in the sport. Unlike most fighters isn't looking to move weights any time soon, and instead wants to establish himself in the division, and has no issues making the weight.
WBA (Super) - Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9)
Another Japanese fighter is Hiroto Kyoguchi, who is now holding a world title in his second weight class. The talented Watanabe Gym fighter looked like a wrecking ball at Minimumweight but has looked a lot less destructive since moving to Light Flyweight, where he's had to depend more on his skills, than his physical strength. Although not as imposing as he was 3lb lower down the scales he did prove he can still break fighters down, as we saw at the end of 2018 when he stopped Hekkie Budler. Sadly he hasn't faced a big name since then, and perhaps needs a high profile bout after two tougher than expected defense against talented, but overlooked, opponents.
IBF - Felix Alvarado (35-2, 30)
One of a number of destructive fighters in the division is brutish Nicaraguan puncher Felix Alvarado. The 30 year old won his IBF title in late 2018 and has defended the belt once, beating Reiya Konishi in Kobe in May 2019. Sadly a planned unification bout with Kenshiro Teraji fell through when Alvarado fell ill, and at the moment it's unclear when, and even if, he will return to the ring. The rumour from some circles is that he may be suffering dengue fever and if so he may never quite be the same fighter again. At his best he is a tough, rugged, hard hitting fighter who is crude, but very tough to beat. Not many will stand toe to toe with Alvarado and come out on.
WBO - Elwin Soto (16-1, 11)
Another man who is a destructive force in the division is WBO champion Elwin Soto, who announced himself as a world class fighter last year, at the age of 22. The Mexican youngster is a tough guy, with spiteful power, a solid engine and a will to win. He can be out boxed, but given his power few will last the distance with him. He won his title with a questionable stoppage against Angel Acosta, and a rematch of that bout would make sense, and was tested big time in his first defense, against Edward Heno. Despite not dominating since fighting at world level the two title bouts he's had will help him develop as a fighter and he could be the dark horse among the current champions.
WBA (regular) - Carlos Canizales (22-0-1, 17)
One of the few WBA "regular" champions actually worth talking about is Venezualan boxer-puncher Carlos Canizales, who is a man to avoid. He first proved himself on the world level in 2016, when he fought to a draw with Ryoichi Taguchi, and would go on to take the regular title in 2018, when he out pointed Reiya Konishi. Defenses of the regular title against Lu Bin and Sho Kimura have enhanced his reputation, but a lack of activity has hampered him and his career really needs a boost. He last fought in May, when he beat Kimura, and it's really time that a promoter with some backing gets behind him, and lets unleash what he can do.
We began our "State of the Division" series by looking at the Minimumweight division, which we feel is actually pretty strong at the moment with a good mix of champions, contenders and prospects. Amazingly however it looks poor when compared to the division just 3lbs north. In fact most divisions look weak in comparison to the incredible depth at Light Flyweight.
Again we'll start out look at the division by going through the current world champions.
Kenshiro (14-0, 8) - WBC (4 defenses)
Regarded by many as the division's premier fighter is Japan's unbeaten Kenshiro, who is the longest reigning active champion in the division, having held the title since May 2017. He won the belt with a narrow decision over Ganigan Lopez and his first defense was also a close win, over Pedro Guevara, but since then the Kyoto man has looked amazing, stopping Gilberto Pedroza, Ganigan Lopez, in a rematch, and Milan Melindo. Kenshiro is a pure boxer, and the best boxer in the division. He'll be looking for his 6th defense on December 30th against Saul Juarez.
Hekkie Budler (32-3, 10) - WBA "super" (0 defenses)
Whilst Kenshiro is regarded by many as the "best in the division" it's fair to say that South African veteran Hekkie Budler has the next best claim to that, following his huge win earlier this year over Ryoichi Taguchi. The 30 year old has been a professional for over 11 years and has had a tough career but his win over Taguchi was one of his very best. He's a bit of a brawler who first made his name at Minimumweight and is now a 2-division champion. Notably he will be defending his title on December 31st against Hiroto Kyoguchi as he looks to strengthen his claim as the best in the division.
Felix Alvarado (34-22, 30) - IBF (0 defenses)
One of the great thing about the Light Flyweight division right now is that, despite the fighters being small, a lot of them are pure punchers with aggressive mentalities. Perhaps the heaviest handed champion there is Nicaraguan Felix Alvarado, who took the IBF title earlier this year by stopping Randy Petalcorin in the Philippines. Alvarado has been beaten by Kazuto Ioka and Juan Carlos Reveco, but neither of those tried to go to war with Alvarado, and in fact we suspect no one in the division will ever want to go toe-to-toe with him. A real thunderous, yet rather crude, puncher.
Angel Acosta (19-1, 19) - WBO (2 defenses)
Another major puncher in the division is Puerto Rican Angel Acosta, who came up short in his first world title fight against Kosei Tanaka then took the title Tanaka vacated. Acosta is more of a boxer-puncher than Alvarado, who is a much cruder puncher, and at 28 years old could have a lengthy reign here. Through his career he has rarely had to go long in fights, but has shown good stamina, scoring 3 of his 19 wins in round 10 or later. His reign has seen him scoring stoppage wins over Carlos Buitrago and Abraham Rodriguez and he's expected to return in the Spring to defend the title against Ryuji Hara.
Carlos Canizales (21-0-1, 17) - WBA "regular" (1 defense)
The third huge punching champion in the division is Venezuelan Carlos Canizales, known as "CCC". The Venezuelan has not faced the best competition, but when he's been put in with good fighter's he's looked fantastic holding Ryoichi Taguchi to a draw and scoring notable wins in Asia over Reiya Konishi and Lu Bin. Canizales has a fantastic engine, brutal power and under-rated skills, as he showed against Konishi. Sadly you take out his 3 bouts in Asia and there is next to nothing of note on his record. Interestingly the 25 year old is expected to return to Japan in the new year to face off with former Japanese champion Tetsuya Hisada.
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.