The Ring Magazine Ratings Reviewed: Junior Flyweight
The Ring Magazine first introduced its divisional ratings in 1925 and 95 years later they’re still going strong. It is no exaggeration to claim that these independent rankings are the most respected and accurate in world boxing today.
The ratings panel is made up of a dozen experts from around the world. Opinions are shared, debate takes place, and the final decision on who should be ranked where is decided democratically. It sounds easy but it can be an arduous and time-consuming process.
During the past few weeks, the sport of boxing, like the rest of us, has been on lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It therefore makes sense for The Ring to use this time to revisit each and every division, analyze the fighters who are ranked and predict what they’re likely to do in the future.
Up next is Junior flyweight. As always, please enjoy the debate and respect other people’s opinions.
CHAMPION: HIROTO KYOGUCHI
RECORD: (14-0, 9 KOs)
THE PAST: Kyoguchi came of age in early 2017, outboxing Jose Argumedo (UD 12) to win the IBF 105-pound title. He made two defenses: stopping perennial contender Carlos Buitrago (TKO 8) before besting Vince Paras (UD 12). A move up to junior flyweight led a 10th-round stoppage victory over Hekkie Budler (TKO 10), which saw the Japanese star claim Ring and WBA titles. He has since made two defenses.
THE FUTURE: It was initially announced that Kyoguchi would face Andika D’Golden Boy on May 9. That bout will be rescheduled.
No. 1 KENSHIRO TERAJI
RECORD: (17-0, 10 KOs)
THE PAST: Teraji followed his father, Hisashi, into boxing. “Wonder Boy” claimed the WBC title in May 2017, edging Ganigan Lopez (MD 12). The 28-year-old has improved immeasurably since that time, making seven defenses against the likes of Lopez (KO 2), Milan Melindo (TKO 7), Jonathan Taconing (TKO 4) and Randy Petalcorin (TKO 4).
THE FUTURE: Teraji had been scheduled to face IBF titleholder Felix Alvarado in a mouth-watering unification bout in December. However, the Nicaraguan pulled out with a bronchial issue. Hopefully, that matchup can be rescheduled.
No. 2 HEKKIE BUDLER
RECORD: (32-4, 10 KOs)
THE PAST: Budler wrenched the vacant WBA strawweight title from Karluis Diaz (KO 1) in 2014. “The Hexecutioner” made four defenses, notably outpointing former WBC 105-pound kingpin Chaozhong Xiong (UD 12) and countryman Simpiwe Konkco (UD 12). Surprisingly beaten by Byron Rojas (UD 12), the South African made the jump to junior flyweight. He lost to IBF beltholder Milan Melindo (SD 12) but pulled off a stunning win over Melindo conqueror Ryoichi Taguchi for the Ring, IBF and WBA titles. Budler lost to Kyoguchi (L TKO 10) in his first defense.
THE FUTURE: Has seen several fights fall through in his attempted comeback. Budler, who turns 32 in May, has had a lot of tough fights. Does he have one more big night left in him?
No. 3 CARLOS CANIZALES
RECORD: (22-0-1, 17 KOs)
THE PAST: The talented Venezuelan first caught the eye when he left his homeland to face WBA titleholder Ryoichi Taguchi (D 12). He returned home and claimed three victories before traveling overseas again and making a name for himself in Asia by defeating Reiya Konisha (UD 12), Bin Lu (TKO 12) and Sho Kimura (UD 12).
THE FUTURE: Will hope for more lucrative trips to Asia and possibly face Kyoguchi.
No. 4 FELIX ALVARADO
RECORD: (35-2, 30 KOs)
THE PAST: Alvarado has long been the bogeyman of the junior flyweight division. After losing world title attempts to Kazuto Ioka (UD 12) and Juan Carlos Raveco (UD 12) early in his career, Alvarado rebounded with 15 wins to secure a shot at the vacant IBF belt. He stopped Randy Petalcorin (TKO 7) in October 2018 and outpointed Reiya Konisha (UD 12) in his first defense.
THE FUTURE: Had been due to face Dee Jay Kriel on April 25 in Indio, California, after signing with Golden Boy. That likely to takes place next and, if victorious, he could face Teraji in a unification bout.
No. 5 ELWIN SOTO
RECORD: (17-1, 12 KOs)
THE PAST: Soto came from nowhere to claim the WBO title at the expense of Angel Acosta (KO 12). The 23-year-old Mexican turned back the challenge of Edward Heno (UD 12) in his first title defense and stayed active with a non-title bout win in February.
THE FUTURE: Might make a move to 112 pounds.
No. 6 TETSUYA HISADA
RECORD: (34-10-2, 20 KOs)
THE PAST: The grizzled veteran has been a professional since 2003. He was a journeyman for over a decade but won a Japanese national title in 2016. Reeling off six defenses, he turned back the challenges of Kenichi Horikawa (UD 10) and Atsushi Kakuatani (TKO 8). Hisada, 35, gave Kyoguchi all he could handle in a Ring and WBA title fight in October 2019, which he eventually lost by decision.
THE FUTURE: His courageous effort against Kyoguchi may lead to second title shot in the near future.
No. 7 EDWARD HENO
RECORD: (14-1-5, 5 KOs)
THE PAST: The 27-year-old southpaw from the Philippines won the OPBF title in September 2017 and has since defeated former world titleholder Merlito Sabillo (SD 12) and Jessie Espinas (UD 12). Those wins helped him secure a shot at the WBO titleholder Elwin Soto (L UD 12).
THE FUTURE: Was scheduled to face Francis Jay Diaz on March 28 but that show was obviously postponed. Showed enough promise against Soto to suggest that he can come again.
No. 8 SHO KIMURA
RECORD: (19-3-2, 12 KOs)
THE PAST: The former delivery driver received a surprise opportunity when he was selected to face Zou Shiming for the WBO flyweight title. It was thought to be a routine defense for the Chinese star, however, Kimura upset the applecart, coming from behind to stop Shiming (TKO 11). He defended against former WBC titleholder Toshiyuki Igarashi (UD 12) and Froilan Saludar (KO 6) but lost his title to Kosei Tanaka (MD 12). A move down to junior flyweight led to a one-sided loss to Carlos Canizales (L UD 12), but Kimura got back in the win column with a victory over Merlito Sabillo (TKO 2).
THE FUTURE: Will look for one more title opportunity at either 108 or 112 to end his storybook career.
No. 9 DANIEL MATELLON
RECORD: (11-0-2, 6 KOs)
THE PAST: The Cuban amateur stalwart was initially a nearly-man, always reaching the later stages of the national championships before finally claiming the prized top spot in 2010. Matellon decided to turn professional and now fights out of Panama, where all but one of his fights have taken place. He has wins over Kenny Cano (UD 11), Masamichi Yabuki (SD 8) and Luis De La Rosa (KO 1).
THE FUTURE: Appears to be leaning toward the WBA route and has crosshairs on Canizales and Kyoguchi.
No. 10 AGUSTIN GAUTO
RECORD: (15-0, 10 KOs)
THE PAST: The talented boxer-puncher won the Argentinean national title at flyweight, before dropping down to junior flyweight where he has won various regional trinkets. The 22-year-old holds wins over Nohel Arambulet (RTD 8), Jorge Luis Orozco (UD 10) and Kenny Cano (KO 2).
THE FUTURE: Appears to be leaning in the direction of the WBO title, which could soon become vacant if Soto moves up.
ON THE CUSP: Jonathan Gonzalez, Reiya Konishi, Dee Jay Kriel, Armando Torres and Masamichi Yabuki.