While we're waiting on Brent to return from vacation and get his P4P top 20 done, I figured I'd show some love to some of the sport's littler guys, and give my junior flyweight rankings, just for shits, giggles, and kicks.
I'll also be continuing the top 20 fights of 2007 countdown, probably tomorrow.
1. Ivan Calderon (30-0, 6 KO)
A favorite of ours here at BLH, as Calderon is sort of the King of the Really Little Guys. No, he has no knockout power. Like, none. It doesn't matter. He wins because, as Kevin has said before, he is the slickest boxer in the sport whose name isn't Floyd Mayweather. Calderon was without question the best in the world at strawweight, having dominated the division for 28 fights with little to no fanfare, and now that he's gone up to 108, he's doing the same. He didn't come in easy -- he took on a champion and another fine fighter, Hugo Cazares, and beat him to become a titleholder. It was a tough fight, a split decision that saw Calderon rocked and knocked down in the eighth. And then he took on a credible challenger earlier this month in Juan Esquer, and he won a unanimous decision. There's really nothing to not like about Calderon, but that statement probably deserves an asterisk and accompanying footnote, which would be, "* At 32, he's due to lose, particularly because he's going to keep fighting good opponents." And that asterisk and note deserves this one: *That's very much meant as a compliment to his career.
2. Ulises Solis (26-1-2, 20 KO)
Solis had a tremendous year, going 4-0 against credible opposition -- well, Bert Batawang wasn't credible, but a 50-win Filipino is going to get a shot against a Mexican champion in these times. Other than that, he destroyed Will Grigsby in January, as Grigsby went out of his way to get a rematch made and then showed up completely disinterested in fighting (and then failed a drug test afterward); beat Jose Antonio Aguirre in May via 9th round TKO; and rallied to turn back Rodel Mayol in a hell of a fight on the Diaz-Morales undercard in August (TKO-8). Calderon-Solis is the fight that needs to be made in this division to decide who's truly the man. Solis is fighting better than ever before, and has been in the division longer. Many would probably rank him higher than Calderon. Plus, at 26, Solis is also the youngest of what I consider to be the indisputable top four in the division.
3. Hugo Cazares (25-4-1, 19 KO)
After beating Nelson Dieppa in April 2005, Cazares defended the WBO title five times before losing it to Calderon, and was even coming off of a second round knockout of Wilfrido Valdez. Calderon-Cazares is the type of fight that may well really deserve a rematch, and it has been discussed. Cazares wants it. He hasn't fought since August, but he's been rumored to be returning in January in Illinois, plus there's been talk of him on the Marquez-Pacquiao II undercard. If they added Calderon-Cazares II to that card, that'd be peachy keen by me.
4. Edgar Sosa (30-5, 16 KO)
The 28-year old Sosa, like Calderon, went 4-0 this year, though his best win was his first, a very entertaining majority decision over divisional mystery Brian "Hawaiian Punch" Viloria. After his close win over Viloria, Sosa beat Luis Lazarte (DQ), Lorenzo Trejo (TKO-9) and Roberto Leyva (TKO-4). His first career loss came in 2001 to Solis via split decision. He lost to him again back in 2003 for the Mexican 108-pound title, a majority decision. There is something to be said for a third fight between the two, because Sosa looks like a much better fighter now than he was then.
5. Brahim Asloum (23-2, 9 KO)
France's Asloum scored an upset on Argentina's Juan Carlos Reveco to win the WBA title on December 8. It was Asloum's first fight at junior flyweight -- the 28-year old had fought his entire serious career as a flyweight. He challenged for the WBA title in 2005 and lost to Lorenzo Parra, and challenged Omar Narvaez in March, losing that title bid, too. He did, to his credit, hold the European title. Asloum came into the sport fighting as high as 120 pounds, so we'll have to see if consistently making weight at 108 is going to be an issue, or if he really plans to stay in the division at all.
6. Giovanni Segura (19-0-1, 15 KO)
25-year old Mexican with impressive power, as he's on a three-fight KO streak, the latter two both coming in the first round. He dropped tough veteran Daniel Reyes in 1:38 in June (the only time Reyes has ever been knocked out), then dispatched of Wilfrido Valdez in 2:28 four months later, which made for three rounds fought and two knockout losses in Valdez's last two fights. Nobody ahead of him would be too eager to sign a fight with Segura, I don't think. He's one of the division's most dangerous fighters.
7. Juan Carlos Reveco (17-1, 8 KO)
The loss to Asloum was his first, and it was to a solid opponent. Plus, let's face it -- it was in France, so Reveco was going in at a disadvantage anyway. At 24, he has plenty of time to stand among the division's elite. He has only a few notable wins, but that can be said for lots of guys in lots of divisions. Reveco is a good fighter, and stronger than his KO mark would indicate, as most of his decision wins came when he was fighting in higher weight classes. Since moving to 108, he's 6-1 with four knockouts.
8. Omar Nino (25-2-1, 11 KO)
He hasn't fought in a year since a majority draw against Brian Viloria, which was later negated because he failed a drug test, though unlike Will Grigsby, it was for performance enhancing drugs, not marijuana. He came into his first fight with Viloria at age 30, a total sacrificial lamb that was set up to be knocked out by the much bigger puncher, but instead he deftly outboxed Viloria and made him look really bad, like a tiny Jeff Lacy or something. Their rematch was closer, and I thought Nino won the fight. I feel somewhat obliged to rank him, regardless of the failed test. He is a good fighter, and certainly, in my view, one of the ten best in the division.
9. Rodel Mayol (23-2, 18 KO)
Came up from strawweight, where he'd only ever lost in a great fight to Eagle Kyowa, and gave Solis a serious run for his money before getting outgunned. Nothing much to be ashamed of there, if you ask me.
10. Omar Salado (18-0-2, 10 KO)
Unbeaten, but also almost totally untested. He did take Solis to a draw in 2006.
Brian Viloria is seriously one of the most frustrating guys in the entire sport to watch. He hits hard, he's pretty accurate -- frankly, he's above average or better in just about every facet. But he doesn't flick the switch sometimes, and he can't let his hands go when it seems like he absolutely should. Nino simply outsmarted Viloria in both of their fights, and Sosa just beat him.
As I said a few days ago, 36-year old Filipino Bert Batawang has one of the most fradulent records in boxing. At 50-7, Batawang never faced a real opponent until he lost to Ulises Solis.
South African Muvhuso Nedzanani started his career 0-1-3, and has since gone 20-0. His last two wins have been impressive, as he totally outclassed Jose Jimenez and John Alberto Molina.