Don't let the diminutive stature fool you - Calderon could still box circles around guys, despite always being the smaller man in the ring.
Now that 2009 is getting close to wrapping up, it means this decade is almost over. Before the end of the year, I hope to get through all the weight classes, presenting to you some choices for the best fighter in a given weight class in the decade. I'm not going in any particular order here, but we'll get through all 17 weight classes.
When voting, please only consider the time that the fighter was in the specified weight class during this decade.
Next up is the strawweight division. This one's very different from the cruiserweights, which had a number of legitimate candidates, but none of them really stood out. Here, there's really one guy who jumps out, but since he never really faced the other top guys, there are arguments that could be made that he might not have been the best on a head to head basis. And the candidates are...
Jose Antonio Aguirre - Aguirre ran up a record of 9-1 at strawweight in the 2000's, all of them title bouts. Key wins include Juan Palacios and Wandee Singwancha. The lone loss came to Eagle Kyowa. While he wasn't able to carry his success up in weight classes, it still doesn't take away the fact that he had a very good run at 105.
Ivan Calderon - Calderon ran up a record of 21-0 in the weight class, as he had a number of light flyweight fights sprinkled in there. Iron Boy has arguably been the class of the little weights for a while now, but the big black mark on his record is that he never unified or even attempted to unify, and fought very few future or past titlists. While rattling off 12 consecutive title defenses, he defeated Isaac Bustos, Ronald Barrera, Jose Luis Varela and Lorenzo Trejo, while rarely losing a round. Only after stepping up to 108, however, did he start to challenge himself with top level fighters.
Roman Gonzalez - While Gonzalez has a big record overall, he's actually only 6-0 in the weight class. Those victories, however, are mostly good ones, against Yutaka Niida, Katsunari Takayama, Jose Luis Varela and Francisco Rosas. While the vicious Gonzalez has quite a future, he hasn't done too shabby up to this point.
Eagle Kyowa - Eagle, a Thai fighting out of Japan who went by his given name Den Junlaphan later in his career, managed an 18-2 record in boxing's lightest weight class. While his record isn't glossy like Calderon's, he arguably fought a higher level of opponent than did Calderon. Key wins include Jose Antonio Aguirre, Katsunari Takayama, Rodel Mayol and Lorenzo Trejo. His two losses came to Oleydong Sithsamerchai at the tail end of his career, and a retirement against Isaac Bustos due to dislocating his shoulder.
Yutaka Niida - Niida ran up a record of 12-2-1 in the weight class, mostly in title fights, including 7 consecutive defenses of his WBC belt. His best wins came over Eriberto Gejon, Katsunari Takayama, Ronald Barrera, Juan Jose Landaeta and long-time titlist Noel Arambulet. His losses came to Arambulet (which he avenged) and Roman Gonzalez at the end of his career.
Oleydong Sithsamerchai - Sith Lord has built up a shiny record of 32-0. A lot of it has been padding, being fed a steady diet of rookie fighters in Thailand, but when he's needed to step up, he's done so with some convincing victories. He defeated Eagle Kyowa by unanimous decision, rugged former titlist Muhammad Rachman and multiple title challenger Omar Soto. It appears that he's done for the year, but there have been rumors that he would attempt to unify early next year, which might settle some arguments as to who's currently at the top of the division.
Who was the best strawweight of the 2000s?
Jose Antonio Aguirre (6 votes)
Ivan Calderon (87 votes)
Roman Gonzalez (1 vote)
Eagle Kyowa (4 votes)
Yutaka Niida (3 votes)
Oleydong Sithsamerchai (8 votes)
Other (state in the comments) (4 votes)
113 total votes