Column: Pacquiao, Raquinel, Zulueta, Magsayo and More. A Look at Filipino Boxers in the WBA World Rankings
By Carlos Costa
Mon, 06 Apr 2020
The king of Filipino boxing, Manny Pacquiao, tops the list of Pinoy boxers who made it into this month's WBA world rankings, all expected back in action as soon as the world comes back to normal from the ongoing pandemic, hopefully soon.
Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KO's), the idol and inspiration of millions, appears as the WBA Welterweight "Super Champion" after his split decision win over American Keith Thurman (29-1, 22 KO's) in July of last year in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In that fight, the always thrilling Pacquiao knocked down Thurman in the very first chapter, and went on to dominate the 10-year-younger "One Time" for the remaining of the clash.
Idol of millions Manny Pacquiao on the attack against Thurman.
That was the Pacman's last ring appearance, and his fans want him back again... sometime.
Provided that the ongoing situation with COVID-19 gets under control, the much beloved fighting Senator might see action in July or August, probably against Mexican-American Mikey Garcia (40-1, 30 KO's) or against tough experienced Puerto Rican-American Danny "Swift" Garcia (36-2, 21 KO's).
Either of the two Garcias -- both 32-year-old talented former world champions -- would be interesting opponent for Pacquiao; although never as interesting as Terence Crawford (36-0, 27 KO's), Errol Spence (26-0, 21) or Floyd Mayweather (50-0, 27 KO's).
Anyways, the Pacman's coming fight against whoever he chooses to fight will very likely be again in Fun City Las Vegas, the Casino Capital of the World where the immensely popular Manny Pacquiao is always a more-than-welcomed superstar. I have been many times in Las Vegas to see that.
Together with my Philboxing colleagues Dong Secuya and Dr. Ed de la Vega, I have been thrilled at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas enjoying Pacquiao's ring excitement. My favorite one: Pacquiao vs De La Hoya in 2008.
To me, nothing in boxing compares to being in ringside in Las when Pacquiao is in action looking fast and awesome.
That is why I pray to our Lord Jesus and our Holy Mother that by July the world will be back to normal, so that we can watch Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao thrilling and victorious again.
MORE FILIPINO BOXERS IN THE WBA WORLD RANKING
In addition to the Pacman, seven promising Filipino fighters are included in the current WBA world rankings, all with possibilities to one day get a shot at the world title:
FLYWEIGHTS -- 112 LBS.
In the flyweight division, the WBA has added 23-year-old Negros Occidental warrior Jay-r Raquinel (12-1-1, 9 KO's) as their #14 contender.
Good addition. Because since 2018, Raquinel has scored three exciting knockout wins in The Land of the Rising Sun, Japan, plus another stoppage victory last November in Dubai. Not bad.
Also ranked in WBA flyweights is "The Doberman" Dave Apolinario (13-0, 8 KO's) of Sarangani as # 10.
The WBA world champions in this 112-pound weight-class are unbeaten world crown-holder Artem Dalakian (20-0, 14 KO's) of Ukraine and the WBA interim champion veteran slugger Luis "Nica" Concepcion (39-8, 28 KO's) of Panama.
LIGHT FLYWEIGHTS - 108 LBS.
In the 108-pound division, another Negros Occidental boxer, speedster John Michael Zulueta (11-0-2, 4 KO's) stays ranked as #14.
Here the WBA light flyweight "super champion" is Japanese Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9 KO's) and the WBA "regular" champ is undefeated knockout artist Carlos Cañizales (22-0-1, 17 KO's) of Venezuela.
Would Zulueta be picked to challenge any of them? He'd say "I am ready."
MINIMUMWEIGHTS - 105 LBS.
In Minimumweights, Filipino former WBO world champ "Vicious" Vic Saludar (20-4, 11 KO's) of Polomolok, Cotabato del Sur, is WBA's # 7.
The WBA "Super Champion" in this 105-pound division is Thailand's unbeaten "Knockout CP Freshmart" Thammanoon Niyomtrong (21-0, 7 KO's), who defended his title with a unanimous decision win over Japanese challenger Norihito Tanaka a few weeks ago in Nakhon Sawan, Thailand.
I was there in ringside in that hot afternoon in Nakhon Sawan attending the CP Freshmart vs Tanaka battle, and can report to you that the Thai veteran champion looked superior, clearly dropping and dominating his Japanese challenger, scoring the clear victory.
Niyomtrong retained WBA Minimumweight super title weeks ago. Fans wonder if next he would defend against Saludar.
CP Freshmart has already fought six Filipino boxers, though none as experienced and accomplished as Saludar. (My humble opinion).
Then, how would it be a rumble of this Thai super world champion against tested and fearless former world champion "Vicious" Vic Saludar?
SUPER FLYWEIGHTS - 115 LBS.
Unbeaten Filipino "Hurricane" Jade Bornea (15-0, 10 KO's), born in Arakan, Cotabato del Norte is the WBA's # 14 super flyweight contender.
The "regular" world champions in this 115-lbs weight class is undefeated Australian "Monster" Andrew Moloney (21-0, 14 KO's).
But behold: the WBA Super Champion for this division is none other than popular 4-division world champion Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez (49-2, 41 KO's) of Nicaragua.
The 32-year-old "Chocolatito" (Little Chocolate) conquered his "super world title" six weeks ago in Texas, his fans wondering who will the awesome Nicaraguan fight next?
How about Bornea?
BANTAMWEIGHTS - 118 LBS.
Bantamweights (118-pounds) is really a hot division with thrilling stars as Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26 KO's) and others.
Here, the WBA # 1 ranked is Filipino former WBA interim titlist Reymart Gaballo (23-0, 20 KO's) of Polomolok, Cotabato del Sur.
Fans want Gaballo in a meaningful fight where he could explode his hands over some tough opponent with a name.
The WBA "Super Champion" in bantams is the always fantastically thrilling Japanese "Monster" Naoya Inoue.
As soon as covid-19 is no longer a threat (hope soon!), Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16 KO's) will unify bantamweight crowns against Ormocano multi-division world champion Johnriel Casimero (29-4, 20 KO's) in Las Vegas, Nevada, a fight that no boxing fan want to miss.
That one will be a battle of two highly skilled fighters in peak form for the WBA, IBF and WBO Belts.
Inoue comes from a superb performance in his WBSS super showdown against the "Filipino Flash" Nonito Donaire last November in Saitama, Japan.
Both Nonito and Naoya battled magnificently, wining the "Fight of the Year Award," the amazing Japanese suffering a pair of fractures around his right eye (his orbital bone).
That's how heavy and fast the hands of Nonito are.
It was a war worth of a "Super Championship," and it really was.
In contrast, the WBA bantamweight "regular" title belongs to boring snoozer Guillermo Rigondeaux (20-1, 13 KO's) of Cuba. In his last fight, Rigondeaux scored a close split-decision over former titlist Liborio Solis (30-6-1, 14 KO's) of Venezuela.
SUPER BANTAMWEIGHTS - 122 LBS.
As of today, Filipino "Magic" Mike Plania (23-1, 12 KO's) of Gensan is WBA's Super Bantamweight # 10 contender.
The WBA has three super bantamweight titlist. (Yes amigos, I know... that's a lot of title belts for one weight class, but that's the way modern day boxing is):
WBA Super Bantamweight "Super Champion" is Murodjon Akhmadaliev (8-0, 6 KO's) of Uzbekistan. The WBA "regular" champ Mexican-American Brandon Figueroa (20-0-1, 15 KO's), and WBA "Gold" titlist is Ronny Rios (32-3, 16 KO's), handled by Golden Boy Promotions.
Mike Plania's fans from all over Mindanao and the Philippines would love to see The Magic Man challenging any of the above mentioned three champs... for Plania to display the magic class that he is made of. Will that ever happen? His fans just keep their fingers crossed.
This super bantamweight division (122 lbs) is the weight class where one of my favorite all-time fighters used to reign many years ago, this guy: Puerto Rican Hall-of-Famer Wilfredo Gomez (44-3-1, 42 KO's).
I used to go with my father to watch Wilfredo Gomez in his fights in Panama. He fought several times in Panama. At that time, I was in high school at Panama's Colegio San Agustin. That was some forty-five years ago. Omg, I am really old! 😁 But I can remember: Wilfredo Gomez was really something else, truly amazing.
FEATHERWEIGHTS -- 126 LBS.
Finally, Featherweights. Thank you for reading till here. I'm almost done. 126 pounds or 57.15 Kilos: Undefeated Pinoy boxer "Magnifico" Mark Magsayo (20-0, 14 KO's) is WBA # 11.
The talented 24-year-old Leyteño, Warai-warai speaker signed a promotional contract with Manny Pacquiao's MP Promotions just a few weeks ago, a wise career move that would assure him exposure and the important fights he deserves to show his skills.
Before inking with MP Promotions, "El Magnifico" used to fight for a promotional outfit in Malaysia. Prior to that, he was with ALA Boxing.
The WBA Featherweight "Regular" champ is the Chinese "Monster" Can Xu (18-2, 3 KO's) of M23 Max Power Promotions.
Once the current pandemic gets stopped and knocked out... and our world comes back to normal, Can Xu will mot likely clash in a unification battle against unbeaten Briton IBF Featherweight Champ "The Leeds Warrior" Josh Warrington (30-0, 7 KO's) in England.
That will be a tough match for the tall 26-year-old Chinese, his chance to display his warrior spirit.
But there is more: the WBA Featherweights has a super champion.
Yes, indeed. The WBA "Super Champion" at 126 is Mexican Leo "Terremoto" Santa Cruz (37-1-1, 19 KO's), who is also WBA "Super Champion" at 130 at the same time, which is something not really common.
Will Santa Cruz relinquish his featherweight belt, leaving the 126 lbs, wanting to stay steady at 130? That is very possible.
Magsayo (L) Would One Day Challenge Santa Cruz for a World Title?
But if the Mexican stays at Featherweights, then how about this one: Mark Magsayo vs Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA Featherweight Super World Title?
That would be great IF (big if), if the 3-division world champion Santa Cruz stays at Featherweight.
For some fans, Santa Cruz vs Magsayo could be a exciting battle, if it ever happens.
Because Magsayo can fight well. He can also land hard, and he is the fresher warrior. In contrast, the slightly taller Mexican is FAR (big far), far more experienced than the Filipino.
Santa Cruz is very used to tough wars, but tough wars sooner or later take a toll on any boxer.
In addition, Santa Cruz is very popular in the US West Coast, not to mention that the tested Mexican has absolutely proven that he can shock and rock with his blows. Fans call him "Terremoto" (Earthquake) for a reason.
Santa Cruz vs Magsayo, would be an intriguing fight, if it ever unfolds.
The author Carlos Costa of Panama is a veteran boxing reporter living in Cebu, Philippines. Carlos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and whatsapp: +639184538152.
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