Ivan "Iron Boy" Calderon remains No. 1 in the division, but his time may be running out. (Photo by Ryan Knapp)
Let's go from talking heavyweights to talking some of the littlest guys in the sport. The 108-pound division gets very little publicity, but features some great competition and is one of the best of the "really small" divisions. I've said before I'm a guy that thinks the lowest weight in professional boxing should be flyweight (112 lbs.) and that if you can't fight at 112, find a new job, and I still feel that way, but it's not like I ignore that 108 is a hell of a division as it stands.
1. Ivan Calderon (32-0-1, 6 KO, Ring Magazine World Champion)
Calderon is arguable as his generation's best technician, even counting the more famous, richer, more highly-regarded Floyd Mayweather Jr., who would probably cry for a week if he woke up one morning with Calderon's bank account. He is a deserving Hall of Famer-to-be, one of the all-time greatest 105-pound fighters who has fought good competition since moving up to 108, but is now on the edge of danger. For one thing, he's 34 years old, which is pushing it for a guy this size. Punch is the last thing to go for a fighter, and Calderon has always been less than feather-fisted. If his reflexes slow, he loses a lot of what's made him so great over the last eight years., and he's a chronic bad bleeder now, having had his last two fights stopped early. He beat Hugo Cazares in their rematch by technical decision after seven rounds, and drew with Rodel Mayol last time out after the fight was stopped following the sixth round. I think he has to lose to be replaced as No. 1, or show a serious decline, but he's not too far off. There are good fighters nipping at his heels in this division. He's not as dominant as he used to be.
2. Edgar Sosa (36-5, 20 KO)
Sosa has long defended the WBC 108-pound title, now working on a streak of nine straight successful defenses of the strap since winning it against Brian Viloria in 2007 when the belt was vacant. Sosa has five losses, but there are two things about that: (1) He hasn't lost since 2003, and (2) He has never lost to a anything less than a good fighter, the worst of the lot being Isaac Bustos. His other losses have come to Ulises Solis (twice), Omar Nino and Manuel Vargas, who is still a solid contender at 105 pounds. You can make a decent argument that he should be ranked No. 1 in the division, and he'd be as good a bet as anyone to take Calderon's "0."
3. Brian Viloria (25-2, 15 KO)
Viloria stormed back into relevance with his grueling, Fight of the Year contender victory over Ulises Solis in April. He showed heart, firepower, and a determination that just hadn't been there when he'd fought other type guys in the past, leading most of us to believe he was a "never over the hump" fighter. But he got over that hump in a big way, and even though Sosa says he isn't that interested in fighting Calderon or Viloria, those are the fights to make in this division. He's won six in a row since a rough three-fight streak against Sosa and Omar Nino, and though most of those fights meant little, the Solis win was both an upset and a vindicator.
4. Ulises Solis (28-2-2, 20 KO)
Solis didn't lose a whole lot of standing with his loss to Viloria. He fought well, he just wound up outgunned. Prior to that he hadn't lost since 2004. At 27, he's actually the youngest of the top four (Viloria is 28). Prior to his loss he was a back end P4P top 20 guy for me, and again, I don't drop him too much. He's an exciting, active fighter, and before Viloria was on a Pacquiao-in-reverse run of taking out Filipino fighters, including Glenn Donaire, Rodel Mayol and Bert Batawang.
5. Giovanni Segura (20-1-1, 16 KO)
Segura's 2008 war with Cesar Canchila saw both men sit out from July 26 until March 14 of this year when Segura avenged his defeat with a controversial fourth round stoppage. While I agreed with the decision for Canchila last year and had problems with the rematch's finish, their first fight was tight enough that right now I rank Segura that hair higher than Canchila. Segura is scheduled to take on Filipino contender Sonny Boy Jaro (30-7-5, 19 KO) on July 25 in Mexico.
6. Cesar Canchila (27-2, 21 KO)
Here's the hair. 5/6 could be switched easily, too. Canchila has nothing on the horizon but probably would love to get a rubber match with Segura.
7. Omar Nino (28-3-1, 11 KO)
Nino turned pro in 1995, when he was just 19 years old, and now at 33 may be seeing his career wind down. There aren't a lot of truly old fighters in these weight classes. He dominated Juanito Rubillar in his last fight, winning all eight rounds before a bad cut sent it to the cards. He had lost a close fight to Rubillar in 2008, which was a comeback from two straight wins over Viloria, the latter changed to a no contest when Nino failed his post-fight drug test. He also beat Edgar Sosa back in 2002, when Sosa was just 11-2.
8. Juanito Rubillar (46-12-7, 22 KO)
Rubillar has lost two in a row, but they were to Nino and Sosa. He's also got losses to Jorge Arce (twice), Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, Wandee Singwancha and Medgoen Singsurat. Like a lot of guys in the smallest classes, he's got a rather empty record, but when you see him fight, you know he can fight.
9. Rodel Mayol (25-3-1, 19 KO)
Mayol's losses have come to Eagle Den Junlaphan, Adrian Hernandez and Ulises Solis, and he just drew Calderon, which makes him the guy that took the spotlessness from Calderon's record, if not the "0." He's a strong, tough fighter that seemed to be gathering some real steam on Calderon, and if that had gone a few more rounds who knows?
10. Juan Carlos Reveco (20-1, 11 KO)
The 25-year old Argentinian has won three straight since dropping his strap to Brahim Asloum in 2007. The Asloum fight -- which took place in France -- is also his only fight outside of his native country.
You Coulda Been a Contender...
Brahim Asloum (24-2, 10 KO) won the WBA title from Reveco in December 2007, and sat out until April of this year. Apparently he still holds the WBA title (in some way or another, but he's fought just once at 108 pounds in his career, and his ring return was back at 112, where he's done most of his fighting. He started off as a bantamweight (118 lbs.).
More notables to look up on YouTube: Sonny Boy Jaro, Adrian Hernandez, Munetsugu Kayo, Kompayak Porpramook, Jhonreil Casimero (19 year old Filipino, 13-0 with 7 KO)