With no fights currently taking place we've had a bit of time on our hands, and with that in mind we've decided to look at the sport in terms of how divisions sit, and do something that had previously been requested. The Asian divisional top 10's. We'll be starting this at Minimumweight and working our way through the divisions over the coming days and weeks. We know there will be some debate about some rankings and there is certainly some area for discussion, and that is certainly not a bad thing at all!
Today we take a look at the Light Flyweight division, which is a rather interesting weight class right now. The 108lb weight class is, potentially, the best in the sport on a global basis, and would make for a fantastic tournament with the top guys from around the bout. We see some of the best fighters in the division in Asia however the drop off in the division is start between the best, and the best of the rest.
1-Kenshiro Teraji (17-0, 10)
There will be debate between the #1 and #2 in the division, however for us the pick is rather easy based on achievement and competition at the weight class. Kenshiro Teraji has been the WBC champion since May 2017 and has scored 7 defenses, some of which have come against fighters lower down this list. The talented boxer-mover has looked near untouchable at times and beaten the likes of Ganigan Lopez, Pedro Guevara, Milan Melindo and Jonathan Taconing. An excellent technical boxer Kenshiro has made so many improvements since winning the title that he hardly seems the same fighter that he was 3 years ago. A real revelation at the top of the division.
2-Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9)
Whilst we have Kenshiro at #1 we know some would suggest fellow Japanese fighter Hiroto Kyoguchi, the Ring Magazine champion, should be top. Whilst he's the Linear champion his reign at 108lbs has yet to match that of his countryman. He won the WBA "Super" and Ring magazine titles in December 2018, when he stopped Hekkie Budler in a great win, but wins against Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart and Tetsuya Hisada were both tougher than expected for the Watanabe Gym fighter. Kyoguchi is certainly ahead of the rest of the field, but so far he's shown less versatility at Light Flyweight and doesn't look as dangerous as he did at Minimumweight. Still a top fighter however and he's going to be very hard to dethrone.
3-Reiya Konishi (17-2, 7)
The drop off between the top 2 and the rest really is massive and even then the argument for #3 is a really close one. We've gone with 2-time world title challenger Reiya Konishi at number 3, though could see 3 or 4 fighters all having a fair claim to the position. Konishi has only lost at world level against ultra-dangerous fighters, Carlos Canizales and Felix Alvarado, and holds wins against decent fighters like Masataka Taniguchi, Shin Ono and Orlie Silvestre. A little warrior Konishi has a great work rate but lacks single punch power and makes life very difficult for himself time and time again. A legitimate top 15 globally, he's a man who had proven he's on the bubble of world class, but hasn't yet scored the big win. Saying that however he gave Carlos Canizales a very tough bout back in 2018.
4-Petchmanee Kokietgym (32-1, 21)
Thailand's Petchmanee Kokietgym, also known as Panya Pradabsri among other names, is perhaps the divisions least well known contender. The 29 year old Thai was unlucky in his sole defeat, a loss in China to Xiong Zhao Zhong, and has bounced around between Light Flyweight and Flyweight since then. Despite having over 30 wins to his name his competition is rather mixed, and is certainly not the best out there. When he has stepped up to fringe regional level however he has impressed, stopping the likes of Jerry Tomogdan, Robert Onggocan and Dexter Alimento. Very much a fighter who is just a win or two away from making a mark, and at 29 he does have a bit of time to go out and make a statement before a world title bout.
5-Edward Heno (14-1-5, 5)
Former OPBF champion Edward Heno has impressed multiple times, with wins against the likes of Seita Ogido, Merlito Sabillo, Jesse Espinas and Koji Itagaki. He also impressed last year in his loss to Elwin Soto, in what was a very competitive bout against the dangerous Mexican. Aged 27 the Filipino southpaw is pretty much in his physical prime and the loss to Soto do more good than harm, instilling a confidence in Heno that he belongs at world level. Before the current global situation he was supposed to fight in March against Francis Jay Diaz, and that would be a big test of his mentality after the Soto bout. Arguably the most skilled of the contenders he has a bright future, if he can get up for the lower level tick over fights until landing another big one.
6-Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart (11-1, 5)
Another Thai with an under-rated standing in the sport is 27 year old Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart, aka Tanawat Nakoon. The talented Thai had done little in boxing before landing a fight with Hiroto Kyoguchi last year and giving the Japanese fighter some trouble over 12 rounds. The bout was a clear one for Kyoguchi on the cards but Satanmuanglek proved he was on the fringes of world class and that he was tough, skilled, smart and promising. Since that loss he has had some Muay Thai action, though hopefully we see him back boxing in 2020. He has the ability to be well and truly in the mix though needs to face more opponents like Marco John Rementizo and few like Crison Omayao, if he's to develop and progress the way he should.
7-Jonathan Taconing (28-4-1, 22)
Just a year ago Johnathan Taconing would have come much higher up this list but the 33 year old Filipino southpaw is very much a fighter on the way out. The heavy handed puncher was always regarded as a dangerman in the division, and one of the most brutal punchers in the weight class. He matched that power with an iron jaw and will to win. Sadly though a KO loss last year to Kenshiro has seen the jaw now left with question marks and at 33 time is not on his side. He's likely to be too good for those at regional level but going 0-3 in world title bouts is a telling stat, and we don't imagine we'll see him picking up a world title before he hangs them up.
8-Thanongsak Simsri (14-0, 12)
Exciting Thai teenage Thanongsak Simsri is one of the division's most promising and exciting hopefuls. He's only 19 but is a heavy handed boxer-puncher who is show real potential, and is getting international experience with bouts not just in Thailand but also Japan. Whilst his competition hasn't been the toughest so far he has impressed with wins against Ricardo Sueno, Lerdchai Chaiyawed and Christian Bacolod already. In 2019 he fought 8 times and the intention was to move him into regional title bouts this year. We might see that happen, but given how the year has been so far any plans for the youngster have been put on hold. For now.
9-Randy Petalcorin (31-4-1, 23)
Another Filipino worthy of note in the division is former world title challenger Randy Petalcorin. He's a long way from the top fighters in the division, but is certainly on the fringes of world class. Last time out he fought Kenshiro Teraji, as a late replacement for Felix Alvarado, and was stopped in 4 rounds by the WBC champion. At 28 years old the talented southpaw has time to bounce back, but unfortunately for him there is a lot of young and emerging talent coming through the division. We mentioned Simsri a moment ago and there are others looking to over-take Petalcorin in regards to his standing in the division.
10-Tibo Monabesa (20-1-2, 8)
Indonesian fighter Tibo Monabesa found that he wasn't ready for the top when he lost to Hiroto Kyoguchi, but the 29 year old has distinguished himself from those outside of the top 10 wins a number of notable victories. In his 23 fight career he has already defeated Rene Patilano, Lester Abutan, Lito Dante, Samartlek Kokietgym and Omari Kimweri. Before the world changed he was pencilled in to face Toto Landero in March, and a win there would have boosted his career to being a legitimate fringe contender. He's on a good run since being beaten by Kyoguchi and the hope is that he will get a world title fight in the coming future.
On the bubble:
Masamichi Yabuki, Daiki Tomita, Christian Bacolod, Kenichi Horikawa and Christian Araneta.
Notes - Tetsuya Hisada has stated his intention is to move up to Flyweight in the future, so wasn't considered here. Yuto Takahashi has announced his retirement from the sport
On August 24th we saw Filipino fighter Edward Heno (14-1-5, 5) come up short in an excellent WBO Light Flyweight world title bout, losing a close decision to Mexican youngster Elwin Soto. The bout was one of those rare ones where both men seemed to enhance their reputation, with the winner and loser being having a higher standing than they had when they went into the bout. With that in mind it we've done a "Five For..." article dedicated to what Heno could do on the back of his close loss to Soto, and look at 5 bouts that make sense for Heno going forward.
1- Hiroto Kyogochi (14-0, 9)
We all love Japan Vs Philippines bouts and only a few short weeks ago we saw WBA "super" champion Hiroto Kyoguchi successfully defending his title, with Heno putting up such a great against Soto why not match the two together! Neither man will fight again in 2019, we assume, but to have the two men clash in early 2020 would be brilliant. Kyoguchi needs a good dance partner next time out, and with Kenshiro and Felix Alvarado facing off in December both of those will be off the table, whilst Heno makes for a great dance partner and is likely to be available. As for Heno this bout would give him a second world shot, and a bout that might suit his style. Kyoguchi's very good, but Heno has the style to give him real fits, and of the champions out there, other than Soto, it's Kyoguchi that Heno matches up best against.
2-Carlos Canizales (22-0-1, 17)
Having just given Elwin Soto a really close bout we don't think Heno has any fear, and with that in mind maybe the perfect bout for him would be a contest with the division's bogeyman, Carlos Canizales. The Venezuelan boxer-puncher is the current WBA "regular" champion but he seems to be the one fighter that no one is in a rush to face, either as a challenger or as a champion looking to unify. There's a reason no one is in a chasing Canizales, and that's because he's a nightmare to fight, with under-rated boxing skills and serious power. He is the man to avoid in the division. For Heno however he's a man with a world title, and another target for the Filipino, who will be chasing a second world title fight after the Soto bout.
3-Daniel Matellon (10-0-2, 6)
Panama based Cuban Daniel Matellon doesn't make much sense to fight in general as he's a very talented fighter, very awkward to catch clean and incredibly smooth. He's also a pretty unknown one. There's a risk of losing to Matellon, for everyone in the division. However what better way to enhance your reputation than to get in and beat the man that no one wants to face? Matellon isn't the sort of attractive name fighter that top guys are in a rush to face, but he is ranked in the top 15 by all 4 world title bodies and a win over him at this point in time would put any fighter on the verge of a world title shot. For a champion Matellon isn't someone they are rushing to face, but for a fellow contender a win over him would potentially net them a world title fight.
4-Elwin Soto (16-1, 11) II
What's better than one brilliant fight between two fighters? Several good fights between the same fighters! Given how good Heno's bout with Soto was there has to be some real interest in the men going again in a rematch. A rematch that would get more attention than their first and would work really well as a good supporting bout on a much big show, rather than headlining a mid-week card. Soto won the first fight, albeit a very close fight, and to have the men do it over would not be a problem at all! We expect to see Soto defending against former champion Angel Acosta next time out, but if Acosta doesn't fancy the rematch with "La Pulga" then having Heno take on the champion wouldn't be a bad alternative.
5-Reiya Konishi (17-2, 7)
A left of field choice, but a very, very interesting one for Heno, would be a bout with 2-time world title challenger Reiya Konishi. Konishi, who has lost to Carlos Canizales and Felix Alvarado, would likely see Heno as an opponent he can beat to stay in the world title mix, whilst Heno would see Konishi as a fighter he could beat to remain in the mix. Both would be going into this feeling they could pick up the win, and could earn themselves another shot. Stylistically Konishi makes for a very interesting opponent for Heno, with Konishi being the busier man, but Heno being the more skilled, and the better pure boxer. If neither can land another world title fight then this is a really interesting match up man one we would love to see.
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).