The Cold Hard Truth: On Sports

Boxing’s Best of 2016 (Part 4)

Boxing’s Best of 2016 (Part 4)

By James Bell


In this section, we touch on the weight classes below featherweight and make announcements for Fighter of the Year, Fight of the Year, and Newcomer of the Year.

Super Bantamweight

Guillermo Rigondeaux is viewed by a majority of boxing pundits as one of the best fighters in the sport next to Vasyl Lomachenko. Since these two fighters are in divisions far apart from each other, we will not be able to see that fight in 2017. This year, we were able to see “The Jackal” get a TKO win over James Dickens to defend the WBA “super” championship and will have a fight next year against Moises Flores for that belt and the IBO belt. Flores is a top ten fighter in the division so either it will be a challenge for Rigo or it will show how far ahead he is from the rest of the division. Jessie Magdaleno got the WBO title with a unanimous decision victory over Nonito Donaire which may have taken Donaire out of contention from getting a title fight and back on the scene for the division in 2017. Look out for the IBF champion Jonathan Guzman as he won it in Japan and will defend it December 31st. He will try to stay unbeaten with a win in his first defense of the title. Rey Vargas is coming up the ranks in this division and may challenge for the WBC title soon. He had three wins in 2016 and is the top contender for that belt.


Shinsuke Yamanaka is the lineal and WBC champion at bantamweight, and he has defended the WBC title 11 times with two of them being in 2016. He beat Liborio Solis in April and then defeated Anselmo Moreno in a rematch of a fight that Shinsuke won by split decision in September where he scored a TKO and stay on top of the bantamweight division. Solis was able to get a shot at another title, but he was unsuccessful as Jamie McDonnell was able to defend the WBA “regular” title. McDonnell has gone through a winning streak and that dates back to eight years ago, where his last loss in the ring was to Lee Haskins who is now the IBF champion. Haskins had become the champ in May with a win over Ivan Morales and defended it against Stuart Hall in September. He was scheduled to defend it again on December 31st, but an injury to his leg nullified that fight from happening. Either he will delay that defense for sometime next year or possibly go after a unification fight in a rematch with McDonnell.

The WBA “super” champion is Rau’shee Warren, who won the rematch against Juan Carlos Payano in Chicago to get that title and the IBO belt. They may be on the way to having a rubber match in 2017 to settle the score. If not, then Warren could fight McDonnell to settle who is the WBA champion. A new fighter to come in the ranks of the top ten at bantamweight is Marlon Tapales who won the WBO title after being in the flyweight and super flyweight divisions. He is from the Philippines and may give some people a reminder of how another fighter started his career in the lower ranks: Manny Pacquiao. Also look for Moreno to get back into the top five in the bantamweight division.

Super Flyweight

This division got a boost this year when a fighter who is viewed by many to be the top guy pound for pound moved up to fight for a belt. The former WBC flyweight champion Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez took on the WBC super flyweight champion Carlos Cuadras. This was a very good fight between the two and it ended up being a hard fought win by Gonzalez to become the WBC super flyweight champion. There is talk that those two will fight again within the first few months of 2017, and I’m sure that it will be as good as the first fight if it happens. Another fighter moved up to the super flyweight division and may be chasing the winner of the Gonzalez-Cuadras fight: Juan Francisco Estrada. He has a series of wins and won titles at flyweight. His last loss was to “Chocolatito” in 2012. With those additions to the division it makes for a good set of potential matchups, but there are fighters already in the division that are very good. One of them is Naoya Inoue, who had a nice amateur career and moved to the pro ranks to get a title in his sixth pro fight. He will be fighting before the end of the year against Kohei Kono and may be on his way to a match against Gonzalez by the end of 2017. Kono is definitely no slouch, as he is a former champion and would like to end the year with a big win.


Kazuto Ioka is the WBA champion and regarded to be the top guy in the flyweight division due to the departures of Estrada and Gonzalez. He has had a majority of his fights in Osaka, Japan and may have to go outside of his comfort zone to acquire a bout with one of the other titleholders…either Johnriel Casimero or Zou Shiming would be a good title unification matchup. Shiming had the pro debut in 2013 on HBO has the WBO title and has only one loss in his career to Amnat Ruenroeng that was for the IBF title, that is now in the possession of Casimero. The flyweight division has been able to have its best fighters go against each other over the past few years, and this year hasn’t been much different. We look forward to seeing what happens going into the next year to find out who comes out on top in the flyweight division.

Light Flyweight & Strawweight

Let’s start the review of the light flyweight division with Ryoichi Taguchi, who has defended the WBA title four times and will defend it again on December 31st against unbeaten Carlos Canizales. He has been able to build his record in his home country in Japan and has not lost since 2013 to Naoya Inoue. If Taguchi gets the win on Saturday, then he will keep his spot at #1 in the division according to many. The ones that may challenge to get that spot are Ganigan Lopez, who won the WBC title this year in Japan against Yu Kimura and Pedro Guevara the former WBC champion who lost it to Kimura. Akira Yaegashi and Moises Fuentes are also in contention as Yaegashi is the IBF champion (but lost to Guevara) and Fuentes having a chance to win the WBO title on Saturday.

The strawweight division is led by Wanheng Menayothin (Chayaphon Moonsri), the WBC champion and Thammanoon Niyomtrong who is also known as Knockout CP Freshmart. Yes, you read that correctly. Both fighters are from Thailand and have three or more wins each in 2016. Niyomtrong won his latest fight a couple of weeks ago and so did Menayothin. The other contenders at strawweight are Jose Argumedo, Byron Rojas, and Katsunari Takayama. Argumedo – the IBF champion – defeated Takayama last year to win the belt and defended in twice this year. Rojas was the IBO and WBA “super” champion but lost to Freshmart in June. Takayama has fought for all of the titles in the division in his career and has the WBO title to get back in the mix at strawweight. All of these fighters are likely to run into each other in 2017, so it is best to stay on top of what goes on in this division.


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Boxing’s Best of 2016 (Part 4)
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Boxing’s Best of 2016 (Part 4)

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