The position of heavyweight as boxing’s most popular weight division means that the quality of the competition in the lower weight classes often goes unnoticed.
Nevertheless, fans are starting to appreciate the competitive quality of the super-flyweight division in particular, following three high-profile HBO cards in California and the introduction of Srisaket Sor Rungvisai to the boxing audience.
The heavy-handed Thai champion stunned former pound-for-pound superstar Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez twice in 2017, relieving him somewhat contentiously of his WBC belt on a March pay-per-view show at Madison Square Garden and then silencing any doubt whatsoever in a September sequel at Carson’s StubHub Center.
Now, it would be fair to say that when taking into consideration the clinical manner of his victory in the rematch, Rungvisai has supplanted Gonzalez’s standing in the sport. The hard-hitting southpaw now features prominently in pound-for-pound lists compiled across the globe, in addition to being generally regarded as numero uno in the division following the departure of undefeated Japanese phenomenon Naoya Inoue to bantamweight – something which would have certainly made for a mouthwatering unification fight.
Ultimately, after recently inking a deal with new network DAZN, Rungvisai may be in prime position to now unify against undefeated WBA counterpart Kal Yafai. The Birmingham native – promoted by Matchroom – is undefeated with a record of 25-0 and 15 knockouts, having soundly outpointed Panamanian champion Luis Concepcion in 2016 to capture the belt.
However, he looked decidedly unconvincing in his last performance in November at Monaco, where he barely scraped past seasoned world title challenger Israel Gonzalez to successfully retain his title on points. Rungvisai’s matchmakers may therefore view Yafai as the perfect next target, en route to a potential unification against IBF titlist Jerwin Ancajas from the neighbouring Philippines – a sharp, accurate boxer-puncher with speed and skills, who many – including his promoter Manny Pacquiao – believe is the best in the division.
Ancajas’ compatriot, WBO super-flyweight champion Donnie Nietes, claimed the vacant championship with a split-decision victory over Kazuto Ioka. If Nietes emerges victorious from his mooted rematch with Aston Palicte, the ageing Filipino – a surgical combination puncher – could also be a potential future opponent for any of his three champion counterparts in the division.
With a plethora of intriguing unification fights to be made – notwithstanding big names in nearby divisions – it is clear Kal Yafai has plenty of options to consider, especially considering the fact that nemesis Charlie Edwards has returned to flyweight and won a WBC world title. If Edwards was to venture back up to 115lbs, the two could very well collide in a domestic grudge match to determine the best British super-flyweight before pursuing further unifications.
Article by: Navi Singh