Most casual sports fans know about the heavyweights, middleweights and welterweights but for those with a deeper appreciation for boxing the 115-pounders – also known as super flyweights — may well be the best weight class in boxing.
As of now, only one past champion is enshrined in the International Boxing Hall of Fame (Khaosai Galaxy) and another may soon join him (Johnny Tapia) but one look at the rankings suggests that more may be coming down the pike during the next decade or so.
Succinctly put, this weight class is scorching hot and teeming with talent. The best known of the four major titlists is its newest, Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, (#1 on CompuBox Categorical Leaders list in total (34.1) & power punches landed (29.3) per round, fresh off winning the WBC belt with a thrilling decision win over defending champ Carlos Cuadras , advancing his record to 46-0 (38 KO) and, by winning his fourth divisional championship, surpassed his mentor Alexis Arguello. Gonzalez’s most dangerous counterpart is WBO king Naoya Inoue (#2 on CompuBox Categorical Leaders list with 10.2 jabs landed per round) of Japan, whose dazzling skills have led others to call him “The Monster.” In just 11 professional fights Inoue not only is a two-division titlist, he is one of a handful of fighters ever to jump two weight classes to do so. Even better: Inoue destroyed longtime title-holder Omar Narvaez in just six minutes of action to win that second belt. Since then he has notched three defenses and has barely lost a round in the process.
Panamanian Luis Concepcion, the WBA titlist, may be the division’s hardest puncher shot-for-shot. Seventeen of his 24 knockouts were completed in four rounds or less and on the final day of August the “interim” title holder earned full recognition by traveling to Tokyo and pounding out a points win over defending champ Kohei Kono. Though most dangerous in the early rounds, Concepcion is capable of unleashing his thunder at any point in a given contest. The evidence: His last three stoppages have occurred in rounds seven, 10 and 10.
And if that’s not enough, longtime WBA/WBO flyweight champion Juan Francisco Estrada recently vacated his titles and will officially join the super flyweight fray Oct. 8 against Raymond Tabugon. A rematch with Gonzalez has long been on the wish list of hard-core fans and should he take care of business against Tabugon he’ll be one step closer to making that dream match a reality.
For such a young weight class, the super flyweights have produced more than its share of outstanding campaigners. Besides Galaxy and Tapia, Gilberto Roman, Jiro Watanabe, Sung Kil Moon, Masamori Tokuyama and Fernando Montiel are just a small sampling of the talent that has populated this slice of the boxing spectrum. Never before, however, has it ever experienced such an intense concentration of talent from top to bottom. Thanks to the star power provided by Gonzalez and Inoue, major networks are starting to pay attention for the first time since Tapia and Danny Romero stalked each other in the 1990s. If enough money is waved under the right noses, boxing fans may get a chance to see just how “super fly” the super flyweights can really be.Com