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. Also, I'm not going to count obvious ballot stuffing when I tally these up at the end of the year.
Super Flyweight was actually a pretty interesting and evenly matched division in the decade. Typically, with the smaller weights, you end up with two or three distinct groups of guys, since a chunk of the best fighters are in Japan, a chunk are in the US and Mexico, and a chunk are in Thailand or the Philippines. In this weight class, the best often fought each other, and frequently were willing to go on the road to do it.
Martin Castillo - Castillo managed a record of 14-2 at the weight, with 5 title victories. His best wins came against Alexander Munoz (twice), Eric Morel, Ricardo Vargas and Hideyasu Ishehara (twice). His losses came to Nobuo Nashiro and Fernando Montiel. Cuts really ended up being his bugaboo, as his eyebrows would start bleeding almost immediately in every fight, and his loss to Nashiro was a cuts TKO in a fight he was otherwise winning on Japanese soil. After the Nashiro loss, he had surgery to shave down his brows so they wouldn't cut as easily, but at that point, he wasn't quite the same when he came back, getting knocked out by Montiel before moving up permanently.
Vic Darchinyan - Darchinyan has only had 6 fights at the weight class, but boy has he made himself known. In his first major fight, he scored a controversial draw against Z Gorres in a sloppy fight where the ref didn't count several knockdowns that should have been scored against Gorres. He then dominated Dmitry Kirilov for one title. Next, he obliterated unified beltholder Cristian Mijares in order to claim three titles and become ranked on pound for pound lists. He then destroyed Jorge Arce and interim beltholder Tomas Rojas, with a stop up at bantamweight in between, losing to Joseph Agbeko. In retrospect, however, some of his wins don't look as good as they did at the time, as Arce was clearly toast, and Mijares went on to lose his next two fights to Nehomar Cermeno.
Cristian Mijares - Mijares went 15-1-1 in the weight class, including 9-1 in title fights, unifying titles and becoming a top 10 pound for pound fighter at one point. Key victories included Jorge Arce, Alexander Munoz, Chatchai Sakasul, Jose Navarro, Katsuhige Kawashima (twice), Reynaldo Lopez and Tomas Rojas. The draw came against Luis Maldonado, and the loss came to Vic Darchinyan in a fight where he was shockingly dominated.
Fernando Montiel - Montiel racked up a record of 10-1 at the weight, all but one of which were title fights. Key victories include Pedro Alcazar, Ivan Hernandez, Pramuansak Posuwan, Z Gorres, Martin Castillo and Luis Maldonado. The lone loss came to Mark "Too Sharp" Johnson. Due in part to his less than spectacular style, he's probably the least respected three-weight beltholder out there, but he took on a lot of good fighters and beat most of them.
Alexander Munoz - Munoz spent much of the decade as a titlist in the weight class, winning a belt on two separate occasions and going 18-3 in the weight class during the decade, including 7-3 in title bouts. As a true road warrior, every one of his major bouts was in his opponent's backyard. Wins include Nobuo Nashiro, Katsuhige Kawashima, Celes Kobayashi, Hidenobu Honda and Julio David Roque Ler. The losses were two losses to Martin Castillo, as well as a loss to Cristian Mijares in a unification bout.
Samson - He went by about a million different last names, including Dutch Boy Gym, Kratingdaenggym, 3-K Battery and Toyota, so I'm just going by his first name here. This Thai fighter did most of his damage in the '90's, and has one of the odder records out there, retiring 43-0 with nearly 40 defenses of a fringe title, without ever going after a major title. In the 2000's, he went 9-0, including wins over Diosdadi Gabi, two wins over Robert Moreno and a win over Orlando Padillo. This one's more of a 'what could have been' pick, as he clearly was a top fighter, but he didn't come close to fighting the best, and he was probably well past prime by the time this decade started.
Masamori Tokuyama - Tokuyama managed a record of 12-1 at the weight, with all but one of those bouts being a title fight. His key victories include Gerry Penalosa (twice), Katsuhige Kawashima (against whom he won two out of three), Dmitry Kirilov, In Joo Choo (twice) and Jose Navarro. In Japan, he was popular, but equally notorious for his outspoken and controversial political views. An ethnic Korean who was born in Japan but whose family came from Pyongyang, he was an outspoken supporter of the North Korean government, which also caused him to be prohibited from fighting in their the U.S. or South Korea. He would walk in to the North Korean national anthem and flag, and he reportedly went to North Korea in 2001 and credited his success as a fighter to Kim Jong Il while he was there. It's hard to know how much of this was legitimate or how much of it was antics, but as a result, he was one of the more well-known combat sports figures in Japan in the 2000's.
Others for general consideration: Gerry Penalosa (most of his career at the weight was in the '90's), Mark Johnson (same), Ivan Hernandez, Katsuhige Kawashima, Nobuo Nashiro, Celes Kobayashi, Dmitry Kirilov