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Our Continuing Malaise at Flyweight: Who Will Finally End the Title Drought? (Part 2)


PhilBoxing.com





Review of the Past

When modern boxing was introduced in the Philippines at the turn of the last century, Filipinos took to the sport like ducks to water and immediately established themselves especially in that weight category called flyweight.

With the maximum weight limit of 112 lbs., the flyweight class seemed to fit the Filipino physique perfectly as other Asians as Japanese, Thais and Chinese would discover years and decades later, winning their first world pro boxing titles in the division.

The Philippines antedated its neighbors, notching its first world flyweight championship in the 1920s through Ilonggo Francisco Guilledo better known as Pancho Villa.

Villa would start a line of Filipino world champion in the division and its derivative, the light flyweight, of at least one per decade from the 1920s through the new millennium broken only in 2018 with the title defeat of Milan Melindo and Donnie Nietes vacating his title and moving up to the junior bantamweight or super flyweight.

Since 2018 therefore, the Philippines has been experiencing a malaise, a drought at once used to be a gold mine division, the flyweights which include the light flyweight that have thus far produced more than half of the country 45 world champions.

No Filipino fighter has ascended to the world championship at 108-112 lbs from then on although three world title tries have ensued since that all ended in failure with Edward Heno losing by close decision to Mexico's Elwin Soto, Giemel Magramo getting stopped by Japanese Junto Nakatani and most recently, Jason Mama getting outclassed by UK's Sunny Edwards.

Noticeable Absence

One clear gauge of how low we have fallen in the flyweights has been the noticeable absence of any Filipino fighter in the periodic divisional rankings of the authoritative Ring Magazine in both the flyweight and the light flyweight for some time now.

In the heydays of Nonito Donaire, Brian Viloria and Donnie Nietes at flyweights, they were not only among the tops in those divisions but had actually joined Manny Pacquiao even in the mythical pound for pound list.

While we had made headway at the minimumweight, the bantamweights and the featherweights, we have totally dropped out of the flyweights as far as the Ring ratings is concerned despite some of our fighters continue to make the periodic rankings of the so called alphabet soup organizations, i.e. the WBC, WBA, IBF and the WBO.

One plausible reason is the better, more superior competitions at both the flyweight and the light flyweight which are populated by tougher, more exposed and popular fighters from Europe, Japan and Latin America as reigning champions and leading contenders.

At flyweight for instance the current titleholders are Artem Dalakian of Russia (WBA), Julio Cesar Martinez of Mexico (WBC), Sunny Edwards of the UK (IBF) and Junto Nakatani of Japan (WBO). Dalakian, Nakatani and Edwards have already beaten the best we could offer in title fights in the course of their reign and those three are no better than Martinez who is recognized by the Ring as the division top man. Their current top challengers come from diverse Latin American, Asian and African boxing countries who are perceived to be better than our present crop of fighters due to their backgrounds, exposure and level of skills.

The same is true at light flyweight where the current world champions are Kenshiro Teraji who had regained his erstwhile long held WBC crown recently from fellow Japanese Masamachi Yabuki; Hiroto Kyoguchi who is the long reigning WBA and Ring lineal world champion, (both Japanese champions have a long list of Filipino challenger victims by the way); Nicaragua's Felix Alvarado who actually won the IBF belt years ago in Manila beating Randy Petalcorin by KO and Jonathan Gonzales of Puerto Rico who has unseated Elwin Soto conqueror of Edward Heno.

Their current top contenders have mainly been from Central and South America including undefeated Argentine Agustin Gauto and Cuban Daniel Matelion.

A testimony to the strength of the field at 108 lbs is when a former top contender Jesse Bam Rodriguez created quite a wave lately when he subbed for a world title fight at super flyweight and won big by beating veteran Carlos Cuadras and bagged a major belt two divisions higher!

The situation in both divisions, especially at junior flyweight is compounded by other regional competitors including from Thailand and even Indonesia in the persons of Thanomsak Simsri and Tibo Monabesa who have claimed two of our best bets at light flyweight, Christian Bacolod and Jayson Vayson.

In next part, we will try to identify our best bets in these divisions and analyse their prospects and chances given the prevailing situation and increased level of competition.

To be continued

Top photo: WBC flyweight champion Julio Cesar Martinez is the highest rated flyweight according the Ring Magazine.

The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at teddyreynoso@yahoo.com and by phone 09215309477.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Teodoro Medina Reynoso.


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