Asia's Top Boxers Today
By Teodoro Medina Reynoso
Wed, 25 Jan 2023
Asia has produced some of the world's finest boxers since prizefighting was introduced to the region at the turn of the 20th century primarily by the Americans and the British, coincidentally modern boxing's prime exponents and originators respectively.
As boxing was first introduced to the Philippines mainly by American servicemen and later by educators, Filipinos became Asia's first world champions and best boxers in the period between 1920s through the war years in the 1940s. Fighters like Francisco Guilledo aka Pancho Villa, Benjamin Gan aka Small Montana; Eleuterio Zapata aka Little Dado and Cipriano aka Ceferino Garcia became well known particularly in the American boxing circuit with their fistic exploits.
Later other Asian countries as Japan, Thailand, South Korea and much later, Indonesia also went into prizefighting in a bid to produce their first world champions and had their share of global prominence and recognition. There had also been a few Chinese-blooded fighters who took to the sport overcoming the great cultural obstacle.
In time, some of these countries were not only able to match the Philippines output in terms of world champions and world class Fighters but even surpass it.
But match the Philippines global impact in the sport, it is highly debatable as very few other Asian fighters could lay claim to the feats of the likes of Pancho Villa, Ceferino Garcia, Flash Elorde and most especially Manny Pacquiao.
This despite that Japan and Thailand at present have produced more world boxing champions.
In this series, we will endeavor to introduce who we consider as the top Asian fighters with a corresponding ranking based on their current status and record as well as a short narrative on their future potentials for higher achievements as well as bigger impact in global pro boxing.
1. Naoya Inoue. There is no dispute that the Monster is Asia's premier prizefighter in the post-Pacquiao Era. Having won world titles previously in the light flyweight and super flyweight, Inoue made history by being the first undisputed world boxing champion in the bantamweight division in the four belt era. He has now moved up to the super bantamweight class and expressed determination to become undisputed champion in a second straight division, something that has not been done by anyone before.
2. Kazuto Ioka. Ioka is already a four division world champion having held titles at minimumweight, light flyweight and flyweight classes before winning the vacant WBO super flyweight crown where he has remained champion since 2019. Ioka's bid to become unified WBO-WBA champion was not fulfilled when WBA titlist Joshua Franco held him to a draw. But a rematch is reportedly being arranged between the two. With Inoue, Ioka is also among the recognized top rated pound for pound fighters in the world today
3. Nonito Donaire. Despite two losses to Inoue in unification bouts, the most recent last year by 2nd round TKO, Donaire remains among the most respected Asian fighters today. In fact, the WBC has picked him together with Australia's Jason Moloney to fight for the WBC bantamweight crown left vacant by Inoue, the second straight time that the WBC accorded him such honor, the first after his first loss to Inoue in 2019 that resulted in him wresting the WBC belt from then champion Nordine Oubaali in 2021 Win or lose, Donaire's place as not only among Asia's but the worlds best pro boxers is already secured as he is a guaranteed first ballot Hall of Famer.
4. Kenshiro Teraji. Without actually fighting for all the belts at light flyweight, Kenshiro is already recognized as the lineal world champion following his knockout win over then highly regarded countryman Hiroto Kyoguchi in their WBC-WBA and Ring Magazine unification last year. Having avenged the only loss in his record by knocking out fellow Japanese Masamachi Yabuki also early last year, the still young Teraji has no known rival at 108 lbs in the foreseeable future and may even become a main player at flyweight sooner than later.
5. Murodjon Akhmadaliev. Born 2 November 1994, is an Uzbekistani professional boxer who is a unified super-bantamweight champion, having held the WBA (Super), and IBF titles since 2020. A former decorated amateur. Akhmadaliev won the unified WBA-IBF super bantamweight championship by scoring a 12 round split decision win over American Danny Roman in only his 8th pro bout He has defended his titles thrice since then. He is set to defend next against Filipino mandatory challenger Marlon Tapales with the winner potentially meeting Inoue.
6. Junto Nakatani. Nakatani's rise is nothing short of phenomenal He became WBO flyweight champion five years after turning pro in 2015 at a tender age of 17and has remained undefeated after 24 contests of which he won 18 by KO or TKO. His list of victims included ex world titlists Francisco Rodriguez, Milan Melindo and Angel Acosta. He is set to challenge Kazuto Ioka for his World super flyweight title after vacating his WBO flyweight crown last year.
7. Thamanon Niyomtrong aka Knockout CP Freshmart. Niyomtrong has held the WBA world minimumweight crown since 2016 and has defended it eleven times on the way to his current 24 wins, no loss record with 15 knockout victories. Originally rated behind the more known former long reigning WBC minimumweight titlist Wanheng Menayothin, Niyomtrong is now regarded as the best minimumweight fighter in the world following his defeat of the same Menayothin last year. He is set to fight Erick Rosa in a WBA-IBF unification this February. The only knock in his record is that he has fought exclusively in his home country Thailand like Menayothin.
8 Panya Pradabsri. Known by his ring name Petchmanee CP Freshmart (previously Petchmbee Kokietgym ) is a Thai professional boxer who has held the WBC mini-flyweight title since winning it from Menayothin in 2020. With a record of 36 wins against 1 loss including 25 wins by KO or TKO, Pradabsri is rated as second best minimumweight fighter in the world behind Niyomtrong.In his only fight outside of Thailand thus far, Pradabsri lost by split decision to China's Chong Cao Zhong and has since fought exclusively in Thailand like Niyomtrong making it difficult for any visitor to beat him.
9. Johnriel Casimero. Despite no longer a world champion having been stripped of his WBO bantamweight crown in late 2021, Casimero who is a former three divisions world titlist who has not been unseated inside the ring, remains a respected and most demanded fighter in Asia. Now fighting at super bantamweight, Johnriel is touted as one of the very few fighters around who could provide real challenge to Inoue.
10. Mark Magsayo. Though no longer a world champion having lost his WBC featherweight crown by split decision to Mexico's Rey Vargas in his only career defeat thus far, last year. Magsayo remains a highly rated and regarded fighter from Asia. Proof positive is his being picked as among the fighters to fight for the WBC featherweight championship should Vargas opted to move up to the super featherweights this year.
The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and by phone 09215309477.
Click here to view a list of other articles written by Teodoro Medina Reynoso.
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