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Road To Undisputed #2: Light Flyweights

kenshiro teraji

Photo via Ring Magazine

Welcome to “Road To Undisputed,” a brand new series where I look at every weight class in boxing, look at the champions and contenders and map out a road to crowning an undisputed champion and the chances of it happening anytime soon.

The light flyweight division will be the focus of this week’s piece, a weight class that has long been considered one of the most talented group of fighters in the sport. 

Titleholders:

  • WBC: Kenshiro Teraji
  • WBA “Super”: Hiroto Kyoguchi
  • WBA “World”: Carlos Canizales
  • IBF: Felix Alvarado
  • WBO: Elwin Soto

Contenders:

  • DeeJay Kriel
  • Carlos Buitrago
  • Milan Melindo
  • Hekkie Budler
  • Daniel Matellon
  • Sho Kimura
  • Jonathan Gonzalez
  • Tetsuya Hisada
  • Jonathan Taconing
  • Masamichi Yabuki

Current Outlook:

When hardcore boxing fans are asked what division in boxing would be perfect for an eight-man World Boxing Super Series style tournament, one of the more popular answers is the light flyweight division. There’s a good reason for that too. 

The level of talent at the top is insane from WBA champion Hiroto Kyoguchi being at the top of the division with Kenshiro Teraji, Elwin Soto, Carlos Canizales and Felix Alvarado all holding their own titles. Each of those fighters are extremely fan friendly in terms of their styles and some of them, mainly Teraji and Kyoguchi, have pound-for-pound top 10 talent.

Kyoguchi and Teraji possess a unique blend of boxing ability with exceptional power punching. Soto is a big, pressure fighter who scored an upset win over Angel Acosta last year. Canizales is a phenomenal volume puncher with plenty of speed to spare. Alvarado has been on a very impressive run, winning 10 of his last 11 fights from inside the distance.

As far as the contenders are concerned, there’s a myriad of talent in that group too. DeeJay Kriel, Sho Kimura, Milan Melindo and Hekkie Budler lead the way as former world champions. Meanwhile, rising fighters such as Daniel Matellon have slowly started to make some noise and emerge as contenders. Others, such as Jonathan Gonzalez and Carlos Buitrago, have come close to winning a world title, but fell short in their title bouts.

It’s an interesting crop of fighters mainly because of how diverse they are. Two world champions are from Japan, while one champion is from Mexico and the other is from Nicaragua. Meanwhile, there are contenders from Puerto Rico, South Africa and the Philippines.

However, as great as the division is, it almost seems like it is in a bit of holding pattern. None of the top champions are in a position to fight each other and have been going through a number of contenders. The most likely fight between belt holders are Kyoguchi and Canizales as they each hold WBA titles. Even so, there is no guarantee that is happening anytime soon.

What will it take to get an undisputed champion:

Although a fight between Kyoguchi and Teraji would be a pretty big deal in Japan, any unification bout would promise fireworks. However, getting an undisputed champion could prove to be just as difficult as the minimumweight division. 

The one thing this division has over the minimumweights is the demand for a tournament among the champions. Let’s not forget that the first cruiserweight WBSS tournament ended with Oleksandr Usyk becoming undisputed champion so a tournament could easily solve that.

However, a pandemic will make managing a global tournament such as the WBSS from the start almost logistically impossible. 

We have to look at things as they are and assume no WBSS tournament is happening. The easiest way (and I say easiest loosely) to get to undisputed would be pitting a unified champion against another unified champion. In this author’s humble opinion, the two best light flyweights today are Kyoguchi and Teraji.

The best way to crown an undisputed champion would be to have those two fighters face off against Alvarado and Soto in unification bouts. The winner of those two bouts can face off to crown an undisputed champion. If that happens to be Teraji and Kyoguchi, the stage is already set for a mega-fight in Japan for the country’s traditional New Year’s Eve show, which is often one of the biggest boxing shows of the year. 

It would take a lot to make that happen, but it’s not the most improbable thing in boxing. That’s why I’m more optimistic about this division’s future than the minimumweights.

Chances of there being a minimumweight champion in the next 18 months: 5%

Other weight classes

Minimumweights

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