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The 8 Great Super Flyweights of all time: Honourable Mentions

Kyle McLachlan continues his look at the 8 greatest super flyweights of all time. Before we get to the crème de la crème, we look at those just skirting the perimeter of greatness.

On talent, Nonito Donaire is among the best super flyweights ever. But does his resume stack up?
On talent, Nonito Donaire is among the best super flyweights ever. But does his resume stack up?
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

If you are joining us from part one, you will already know that junior bantamweight/super flyweight is a relatively young division.

Still, there have been some quality operators that have made up the ranks. Some stayed and made their names as champions, some merely passed through on their way to bigger (no not necessarily better) opponents.

So why only eight fighters? Why not a top ten, the standard amount of fighters when creating a list of the best fighters from any given division?

Simply put, only eight have truly distinguished themselves as the immortals of the division. A top ten would be making up the numbers, the last two placements would purely arbitrary, and in a list designed to give credit to the cream of the crop, picking two which don't stand out goes against that.

The following fighters, in chronological order, are not necessarily all names I considered for the top eight, but the honourable mentions, including some you may be surprised at not seeing in the top bracket. Where applicable, I will note those that nearly made it, as well as explaining why all of these didn't.

Rafael Orono: Orono was no chump, though he wasn't an infallible champion either. Although he was a big puncher, Orono didn't prove a big hit as the first 115lb titlist.

In his three successful defences of the WBC title in his first reign, he was gifted a draw with Willie Jensen, of Las Vegas and blasted stable mate Jovito Rengifo (25-0) before being stopped with a body shot by Chul-Ho Kim of South Korea, losing his title in the process. From what I can gather, Orono had returned too quickly from stomach surgery, although I cannot find any sources to corroborate this, only recollections from historians I trust who invested time in this division at the time this bout took place.

I have read articles from the time that mention hand injuries that Orono was carrying.

He did win the title back, in a crushing defeat of Chul-Ho Kim in a rematch. Footage of this displays the awkward power punching of Orono, who looks a real lanky, physical force at the weight.

Orono made three more defences of his title in his second reign, the only notable opponent being Orlando Maldonado, who was a rather middling flyweight who looks passable on film against a past-prime Miguel Canto.

Not quite one of the 'greats' of super flyweight. But what of the man who held in between Orono's two reigns as WBC champ?

Chul-Ho Kim: Chul-Ho Kim made the most of his ability. That isn't to say he wasn't good, but in terms of all-round skillset, or rather the application of the skills he had, on film at least he appears a notch below the best Korean stylists of the era.

A brutal body puncher with a high work rate, Kim's best win prior to holding the WBC title was perhaps against future title challenger Sok-Chul Bae.

Still, Kim would not have been favoured to beat Orono, but he came through the champions heavy artillery to crush him with a body shot.

Stopping Orono is impressive, but Kim also beat Willie Jensen, the stylish American who had caused Orono so many problems, by 13th round stoppage. Perhaps the coup-de-grace, the win that takes Kim close to the top eight, and certainly a win that makes him a lock for the top fifteen, is his hard-fought decision win over the undefeated Japanese contender Jiro Watanabe.

Watanabe, who we will look at much later in this series, ended up the unified champ of the division, and already had a few notable scalps on his shelf. Watanabe would later learn to pace himself better over the fifteen round distance. Though the footage shows a close battle that could've arguably gone the challengers way, Kim's tenacity and Watanabe's naivety make a win for the Korean a fair call. It's a quality win, but seeing how Kim surrendered the title to Orono, his reign was merely very good rather than great. He misses out on greatness.

Payao Poontarat: The first ever Olympic medallist from Thailand (Bronze at light flyweight in Montreal, 1976) and their first ever super flyweight champ in the pro ranks, Poontarat was one of legendary trainer Charles Atkinson's first Thai charges, and one of the few notable champions from Thailand not to have a Muay Thai background.

Poontarat's textbook boxing saw him defeat Rafael Orono in a close one to win the title. Short on thrills, it was more a fencing contest, one the more classical operator edged out.

Not much of a puncher, Poontarat nevertheless bailed himself out with a brutal knockout of former WBA flyweight champion, and banger, Guty Espadas, and stunned Jiro Watanabe numerous times in a razor-thin split decision loss in a WBC/WBA unification match.

Faltering late in the rematch and suffering the first stoppage loss of his pro career, Poontarat didn't have much time left in the game, and he retired after just fourteen professional fights. Talented, undoubtedly an elite fighter, but not one of the greats of the weight.

Santos Laciar: One and done in successful title fights at 115lbs, Laciar was in fact one of the best flyweights of the era. Never down in over a hundred pro bouts, Laciar was a typical Argie stylist; short, stocky, hairy, defensively adept and a smart aggressive fighter who could counter as well as he could lead.

Going so close with a prime Gilberto Roman (they split a series 1-1-1) who we will hear more about later, shows his class. He just didn't do enough at the weight to merit being classed among the very best, even though reviewing fight footage shows he was just that.

Nana Yaw Konadu: Speaking of not doing enough, ranking a fighter in the top cluster of champions with only one successful title fight, does not abide with the criteria I have set.

But what a win it was! Nana Konadu, a well-built boxer-puncher from Ghana, travelled to Mexico and dropped two-time lineal super flyweight champion Gilberto Roman numerous times before taking the WBC title with a lopsided decision.

Unfortunately for Konadu, he met a even more vicious offensive force in his first title defence. More on that later.

Other than Roman, the best scalp Konadu has on his ledger at 115lbs is former IBF titlist's Cesar Polanco and Juan Polo Perez. Solid wins, but not the kind to elevate Konadu into the top bracket

He cemented himself as one of Ghana's greatest years later when he climbed off the deck to stop Thai great Veeraphol Sahaprom for the WBA bantamweight title.

Hiroshi Kawashima: Now here is a champion who comes close to breaking the top eight.

Kawashima, a skilled mid-range operator, overcame a few early career knockout losses to become the lineal champion of super flyweight.

Not only that but he beat a series of quality fighters in a three year reign.

Before he won the title he stopped four-time title challenger Kenji Matsumura in the fifth round. Kawashima had beaten a solid gatekeeper, but he had a solid champion sat on the lineal throne to take care of before he could consider himself the man.

The Nacho Beristain charge Jose Luis Bueno was the champion when Kawashima dethroned him in an excellent performance. A more focused and better prepared Bueno showed up in the rematch, but Kawashima had the measure of him.

Kawashima showed his class when he dealt with the tricky Carlos Gabriel Salazar with far less hassle than other top quality operators did. Salazar, an Argentine with boxing ability who knew how to slow the pace down to where he was comfortable with, had given fits to Sot Chitalada, the best flyweight of the '80s, and Sung-Kil Moon, then the lineal super flyweight champ.

Prior to challenging Kawashima he gave a young, undefeated Mexican kid called Marco Antonio Barrera serious troubles over ten rounds in a title eliminator. As Barrera had missed weight, and given his effort and pedigree, Salazar got the chance to challenge Kawashima. He'd later win a quarter of the super flyweight crown, a worthy reward for mixing so well in the upper echelons between 112-115lbs.

He was no match for Kawashima, who won a unanimous decision, obliging Salazar in his preferred range and still landing the better punches, in arguably a career best performance.

Kawashima lost his title in 1997 to another fighter having a career best performance. Despite his early career losses by stoppage, the man who beat him later said Kawashima took the best shot out of anyone he ever fought.

Gerry Penalosa, speaking to The Ring in 2012,

Aside from his good chin, he was very talented. He really is a strategic boxer, one of the best I'd seen. It just happened that I won the fight because I fought the right fight. I trained hard for that fight because I was very, very hungry. No one could have beat me that night. I was a kid and being a champion was my ambition in life. I couldn't afford to lose it.

Despite six successful title defences, Kawashima never quite got the recognition in his homeland that he arguably deserved. He was overshadowed by another home grown super flyweight champ, a fighter he'd beaten as high school amateurs, and the next man we will appraise.

Katsuya Onizuka: Onizuka, who was the WBA super flyweight titlist and made five successful defences, was in some truly incredible wars.

On his way to the WBA junior bantamweight title, of which he would make five successful defences before a serious eye injury forced him to retire, Onizuka beat the fine Shunichi Nakajima twice. Nakajima had mixed in good quality on the way up, and prior to Onizuka beating him had only been stopped in a challenge to the seemingly unstoppable Khaosai Galaxy.

With a long body, but short arms, Onizuka presented a big target to his opponent's but couldn't keep them at bay. A textbook puncher, Onizuka was able to accommodate his opponents with brutal hooks and uppercuts should they be brave enough to pressure him. He was never in a dull fight.

However, he also seemed to bnefit by a truly bad decision in his second fight with top quality Thai Thanomsak Sithbaobay, who Onizuka had taken the title from.

Not that I mean to dissuade you from watching his fights. Think of Onizuka as a super flyweight Arturo Gatti. His final bout, when Hyung-Chul Lee forced a ninth round stoppage with Onizuka bravely trying to fight back off the ropes, is one of the best ever 115lb title fights.

Onizuka just didn't do enough to stand out from the pack. He is not one of the eight.

He also sported a horrendous mullet for much of his career.

Samson Dutchboygym: "43-0 with 36 knockouts and 39 title defences and he doesn't make your top eight?!?! Some criteria this is...."

Before you get your pitchforks out, let us take a look at Samson Dutchboygym's credentials.

For the uninitiated, the notion that a Muay Thai background was once as solid a foundation for transitioning into the pro boxing ranks as an extensive amateur career might be one that's hard to stomach.

But it cannot be denied. Before the rule changes in Muay Thai at the turn of the new millennium that rendered punches the lowest point scorers, the sport drew extensively from boxing techniques. That is how they managed to take a relatively crude operator like Saensak Muangsurin and guide him to a world title in just three fights. This in the day where the WBA and WBC were the only governing bodies with a presence. It took perhaps the most touted amateur of all time and a vacant title in a time of four belts to equal this feat, and that only happened this year.

Samson, known in Muay Thai as Samson Issan ( named for the North East region of Thailand that produces so many of its best fighters) came into boxing off the back of a hugely successful career in the 'Golden Age' of Thai boxing.

To give you an idea of his credentials, in reaching the pinnacle of Muay Thai with 'Stadium Championships' (the highest accolade a Thai can strive for) he split knockout victories with Veeraphol Sahaprom, who went on to win a World title in boxing in just four fights. These were bouts that were essentially boxing matches; both were touted punchers and in an era of specialists, both used their best techniques to get the victory.

Unlike Veeraphol, who tested himself against the best of his era, Samson did not. With one of the most popular Muay Thai fighters in the country in their hands, perhaps his handlers saw the success Khaosai Galaxy had defending a title and decided instead to cash-in on Samson's built-in fan base.

Samson won the World Boxing Federation super flyweight title in his fourth boxing bout.

Now make no bones about it, the WBF title was just about the least prestigious championship in boxing. A canny marketing tool no doubt, but whereas I have leant towards the fighter making the title and not the other way round, Samson spent the next eight years making defences against less than stellar opposition.

Not that there wasn't some good scalps in there. He wouldn't warrant a mention had he only fought fighters with losing records.

Unfortunately, Samson also didn't fight many of his super flyweight contemporaries. He knocked out Hugo Rafael Soto, who had been the distance with WBO champ Johnny Tapia less than a year before. He knocked out Genaro Garcia, who later went the distance with Hozumi Hasegawa for the WBC bantamweight title, and came close to seeing out 12 rounds with Toshiaki Nishioka for that title at 122lbs.

Former light flyweight champ Rolando Pascua may look like a good name, but he'd been a dangerous journeyman type before he pulled off the famous upset of 'Chiquita' Gonzalez, and had continued in the same vein afterwards, with a less than stellar record against the other quality fly and super flyweights of the era.

Alexander Makhmutov was a talent scrapper who had represented Russia in the Olympics. He had already fought two of the best Thais of the era, Saen Sor Ploenchit and Chatchai Sasakul, but they were flyweights, and seeing how the Russian fought at flyweight for the rest of his career, it is clear that he was naturally smaller than Samson. Makhmutov was beat up, cut, and stopped in six rounds.

Cruz Carbajal was a tough Mexican who had a bit of a late career resurgence, turning himself from an opponent into a titlist, and won the WBO bantamweight title. He strung together some good victories, and although he wasn't in his prime when Samson stopped him, he'd already mixed in very good competition.

A skilled pressure fighter, aggressive, and a brutal body puncher, Samson was undoubtedly talented, and that's what makes him not fighting the best of his era such a shame. In Thailand, the fighters simply do not have a say on who they fight.

It's because of this that Samson only warrants an honourable mention.

Marc Johnson: 'Too Sharp' could have just as easily been given the moniker too fast, too slick or even too good.

In the none-too glamorous divisions of fly and super flyweight, Johnson's talent was only recognised by hardcor aficionados.

Johnson struggled to get any of his most well-rspected contemporaries to fight him at either flyweight or super flyweight. Not that you could accuse the likes of Gerry Penalosa and Johnny Tapia of 'ducking' Johnson; their career trajectories show they were never the kind of fighters to pass on a challenge.

Perhaps Johnson never got a chance to fight the other titlists for the same reason hardly any lower weight unification's took place for many years, that there was simply no more money in a unified champion than there was a belt holder, and it was easier to make chump change against chumps than it was against dangerous, slick fighters such as Johnson.

Another reason may have been that with a lot of the best fighters in the lower weight classes being from the Far East and not clocking up much air miles that Johnson would have needed to travel to get the big fights. After being robbed in Ireland early on in his career (on St. Patricks day no less!), Johnson was unwilling to do so, as he told Doghouse Boxing in 2012,

"I vowed never to go overseas again unless there was a boat load of money involved."

As aforementioned, down at super flyweight funds were lacking.

Though it wasn't for lack of trying. Johnson moved up from flyweight, through to super fly and eventually ended up at bantamweight, taking on opponents far too big for him for slightly larger purses.

Considering he didn't face brilliant opposition at either 112 or 115lbs, it's his Herculean effort against the dangerous bantamweight Rafael Marquez that demonstrates just how good Johnson was, although there are a few indications at his natural weight that he would've been just as good against the best of his era.

At flyweight he nuked the durable and talented Arthur Johnson, who had pushed both flyweight champion Pichit Sithbangprachan and super flyweight champ Johnny Tapia to the wire in two unsuccessful title challenges. Johnson lived up to his chosen nickname, and was too sharp for Johnson, who didn't even see out the first round.

Albert Jimenez was a talented Mexican who had been unlucky not to win the WBC (lineal) flyweight championship against Muangchai Kittikasem in Thailand. A road warrior, he pushed Johnson close, but later won a flyweight trinket against the impossibly short Jake Matlata. Jimenez was a fighter of real quality.

Raul Juarez, who had gone the distance with lineal flyweight kingpin and textbook punching genius Yuri Arbachakov couldn't last the 12 with Johnson.

Francisco Tejedor might have managed to go 12 with the murderous punching Danny Romero, but he couldn't get through a single round with Johnson.

It wasn't that Johnson was a devastating puncher. His offensive variety coupled with his hand speed and, timing made him a blinding fighter when he let his hands go, and his  reflexes and ability to slip and counter the old fashioned way made him a nightmare for everyone who signed on the dotted line to fight him.

Such was his master of ring generalship and domination of his opponents, Johnson was once as high as number three in the pound-for-pound rankings of The Ring magazine.

And Johnson was the very definition of pound-for-pound.

A big, long flyweight who proved himself talented enough to take on big weight-cutting bantamweights, Johnson was likely in the perfect habitat for him at super flyweight.

As aforementioned, he only really had the chance to fight for vacant titles due to the big fights and unification bouts not coming off for him. He picked up the vacant IBF title at 115lbs with a comprehensive victory over tough Thai Ratanachai Sor Vorapin.

Johnson did show one fault in this bout, which later reared its head again, that when he was well ahead on the cards he would sometimes coast and allow his opponent to make the fight closer than it had to be.

Sor Vorapin, like most Thais, was a steady operator who built his offence around getting close to his man and building up his punch count. In the championship rounds he got closer and closer to Johnson, who seemed content to clown and clinch. In the 12th Sor Vorapin briefly buckled Johnson with a winging hook to the temple, forcing Johnson to let his hands go and prove that if he wanted to up his game he could.

A minor quibble, but with a fighter as close to perfection as Johnson, that's all you can find. Johnson showed the full range of his talents early on in the fight, showing what an expert counter puncher he was.

After finally succumbing to Rafael Marquez's sledgehammer shots up at bantamweight, Johnson returned to super flyweight to pick up arguably the greatest win of his career, against a fighter who would go on to be one of the best super flyweights of the era.

Fernando Montiel was not quite in his prime, but he was undefeated and already had a reputation as a puncher.

It's also another bout where Johnson allowed a big early lead to slip, the fistic equivalent of Usain Bolt walking the last 10 metres. Johnson looked the better man, and despite being a veteran in with a young banger who didn't know the feeling of defeat, Johnson was too savvy, too quick, and fittingly, 'Too Sharp'.

Johnson did eventually outgrow the super flyweight division, but past his prime and with his reflexes dwindling ended up losing his title via stoppage to Ivan Hernandez, a good fighter, but not in Johnson's league.

Not that it should effect his legacy. Perhaps overrated due to being a favourite of the hardcore hipsters, Johnson's skill level was never quite reflected in the level of scalps he managed to take. But at super flyweight, he has a few good victories, and looks good enough that I can comfortable say that if this was a top ten then he would be in contention for one of the last two spots.

Controversially Johnson was inducted to the International Boxing Hall of Fame the first time he was in the ballot. Doug Fischer of The Ring staunchly defended his induction, and although it reads as an overly defensive response built mainly around the elevating of lightly regarded and relatively untalented belt holders as 'champions', it certainly gives an indication of just why Johnson was so well-regarded.

With the ability he displayed and with four wins, one loss and one no contest in 115lb title bouts, as a super flyweight, he should be held in high esteem indeed.

Fernando Montiel: His narrow defeat to 'Too Sharp' was certainly not the end of Montiel's journey through the super flyweight division.

In fact, despite him already being a two-weight belt holder, it was only the beginning.

Tragically, Montiel's rise to prominence in the division was marred by a ring death at his hands. Undefeated Pedro Alcazar died two days after being stopped by Montiel's thunderous punches. Strangely, Montiel didn't land too many head punches of note, and stopped Alcazar with body shots. Although it was deemed afterward that Alcazar was not showing any signs of dehydration either, Montiel didn't suffer the same fate as many other boxers who have caused a death by their gloved fists, and carried on in earnest.

After his loss to Johnson, Montiel reclaimed the WBO super flyweight title with a crushing defeat of Johnson's conqueror Ivan Hernandez, typically for a Mexican, with body punches.

Not that Montiel was the archetypal Mexican stylist. Standing straight up, he was more of a sharpshooter, looking to fake his opponent into leaving opening for crushing single shots.

In his second reign as WBO super flyweight champ, Montiel found himself having far too many close contests with fighters you would think were a level below him.

Roy Doliguez, who could not even be classed as a fringe contender, received the first crack at Montiel's reclaimed crown on the basis of being the WBO Asia-Pacific champion.

Problem being that he was the champion at light flyweight and was coming off a draw and a loss. The WBO, known for allowing poor mandatory challengers, outdid themselves with this one.

A routine defence for a classy puncher like Montiel then.

Only it wasn't. Dropped heavily in the first round by a left cross that went right through him, Montiel woke up to the task at hand, but in attempting to put away his overmatched foe in the second round was briefly stunned again before a barrage of body shots got the job done.

Unfortunately for Montiel when weighing up his chance of breaking into the great eight, this struggle wasn't an isolated incident.

Montiel had to get off the deck and battle through being rocked numerous times to put away Colombian fringe contender Luis Melendez, as well as having a fairly torrid time with undefeated Thai challenger Pramuansak Posuwan.

Like other super flyweight champs, Montiel made the short journey north to bantamweight, losing a decision to hard-punching Jhonny Gonzalez, where he limited the chances of being knocked down as he was against lesser punchers by playing it defensive for the majority of the bout.

Back at super flyweight, he took on Z Gorres in the challengers backyard of the Philippines.

Before the bout, veteran U.S correspondent Graham Houston felt, understandably, that Montiel would prove too skilled for the challenger,

Montiel does look a bit quicker than Gorres and I think he is the classier boxer and possibly the sharper hitter. For his part, Gorres looks the stronger, grittier and perhaps more purposeful fighter. In fact, Montiel must do what he has not done lately if he is to leave Cebu with the title - he must establish authority.

In fact, the fight played out in the opposite way.

Gorres, who fought similarly to former lineal super flyweight champ and fellow Filipino Gerry Penalosa, was the much more assured ring general, dictating the range and getting off first. Montiel looked to bully Gorres, although he couldn't get off.

With Gorres well ahead, Montiel put on a late charge. Hurting Gorres with a body shot in the tenth round and throwing the challenger down when he tried to clinch for respite, it was Gorres who was deducted a point, despite fighting a clean fight up until this moment and not being warned prior about clinching.

For the rest of the championship rounds Gorres tried to stave off Montiel's attempts to rush him, and although Gorres' clinching became excessive in the twelfth and warranted a point deduction, perhaps it should have been his first rather than second. Montiel, who had looked less than formidable again, escaped with a split decision that would have been a majority draw if not for the point deductions.

The Mexican had no such issues when facing arguably the best fighter of his super flyweight run.

Castillo, a Mexican Olympian who had defeated none other than Floyd Mayweather as an amateur, was a former WBA super flyweight champion who held impressive victories over the hard-punching Alexander Munoz and the former flyweight titlist Eric Morel.

Castillo had lost his title on cuts to gutsy Japanese challenger Nobuo Nashiro in 2006. As I stated in part one, The Ring rankings often threw up some bizarre instances of seemingly arbitrary ranking decisions, and there can be no better example of this than Castillo being ranked the number one super flyweight by The Ring going into the Montiel bout, seemingly by virtue of his two victories over Munoz, who had gone on to take the title from Nashiro.

Castillo had beaten absolutely no one of note between losing to Nashiro and being ranked at the head of the class by The Ring.

This doesn't make Montiel's performance any less impressive. Perhaps the second most impressive performance of his career, Montiel dropped Castillo in the first round with a wide left hook, hurt him in all subsequent rounds, and wasted him in the fourth with a patented body shot.

Montiel didn't reach these heights again at super flyweight, although he did overcome another patchy run of form, breaking Hozumi Hasegawa's jaw in a highly impressive victory for the WBC bantamweight title.

Perhaps the win that would've elevated Montiel into the elite of the elite was one that boxing fans had at the top of their Christmas lists for a long time. Fans were clamoring to see a showdown of Mexican super flyweight titlists of juxtaposing styles.

The man who would've been in the opposite corner is the next champion we'll look at.

Cristian Mijares: Like Montiel, Cristian Mijares' couldn't be any less of a Mexican stylist.

Unlike the traditionally gung-ho pressure fighters Mexico produces, Mijares was much more of a slickster. Unlike most slick fighters, Mijares didn't tend to use his legs too much, and instead relied on upper body movement to befuddle his opponents and set up eye-catching counter punches.

In a very short time span, Mijares rose from contender to titlist, from titlist to unified champion, and from highly respected champion and pound-for-pound calibre fighter to a man who would never again command that kind of respect.

But what a run he had.

Despite his atypical style, Mijares worked his way up as most Mexican fighters do, fighting the other hungry challengers trying to work their way up the ladder in one of the most highly populated boxing nations in the land. Perhaps his best win on the way up was against Tomas Rojas, future WBA super flyweight champ but mainly known as a perennial contender.

In the midst of longtime lineal champ Masamori Tokuyama's will he, won't he over a move up to bantamweight, the WBC set up an interim title. Mijares won this against former lineal champ, and Tokuyama conqueror Katsushige Kawashima, in a closely-contested bout in the former champs Japanese homeland.

An active fighter, Mijares fit in a quick 'defence' of the interim belt, before leaving no question marks to his superiority over Kawashima when returning to Japan and overwhelming the slugger in the tenth round, although he did also throw in a cheap shot that wasn't really necessary.

This was Mijares' first defence of the full WBC crown, which he was upgraded to once Tokuyama decided to retire.

Mijares did all of this within four months, which is a stunning level of activity considering most fighters, let alone champions, get out a few times a year at most.

Mijares kept up this outstanding work ethic, and three months later schooled no less a fighter than Jorge Arce. Arce, Mijares' compatriot, and far more popular with the Mexican faithful, has carried his punch to whichever weight he has fought at, but he was no match for Mijares.

Mijares remained an active champion, posting three defences within ten months of his lopsided victory over Arce. The most notable opponent he beat in this timespan was Jose Navarro, in a bout that is notorious for featuring perhaps the worst scorecard ever turned in during the history of judged prizefights. Navarro was a good, tricky fighter, but only judge Doug Tucker thinking Mijares was actually called Navarro could explain the 120-108 card he turned in, and even then it would have been a stretch as Navarro had his moments.

Mijares then annexed the WBA title with a hard-fought decision over Alexander Munoz. Munoz, a devastating puncher from Venezuela, posed no little difficulty to Mijares, who had to put in a career-best showing of skill and will to get the job done.

With two belts to his name, and ranked no less than eighth on The Ring's pound-for-pound list, Mijares was known to fans, and respected by even the most hardened and cynical boxing critics. A routine win over former lineal flyweight champ Chatchai Sasakul looks good on paper, but the Thai was nearly a decade past his sell-by-date.

This didn't do much to reduce confidence in Mijares' abilities, and looking to add the IBF crown to his list of honours, Mijares' confidence was at an all-time high.

This proved costly, as we will see in a further installment.

Mijares did later win the IBF strap at super flyweight, but it came to little fanfare. In fact, Mijares has had little fanfare ever since he lost his titles in 2008, and a brief resurgance at super bantamweight came to an end last year when he was thoroughly dominated by Leo Santa Cruz.

Mijares' prime was brief, but what he achieved between the middle of 2006 up until the end of 2008 should not be as easily dismissed as it tends to be nowadays. He was a brilliant fighter, and a match for any of the super flyweights who do make the top end of this list.

Nonito Donaire: 'Wait', I hear you say. 'Nonito Donaire isn't in the top tier'?

Although Donaire's numerous titles in numerous divisions can often blur the lines and make us confuse the details, super flyweight was actually the division Nonito seemed to pay the least attention to.

He merely passed through, claiming an 'interim' strap with an incredible performance against late replacement Hernan 'Tyson' Marquez (that looks better in retrospect due to Marquez's later title winning performances at flyweight) and a turgid showing against Rafael Concepcion, who missed weight and looked much stronger for it.

If this was a list based on potential, then Nonito would probably rank quite highly. He smashed two of the most prominent super flyweights of the era, Vic Darchinyan and Fernando Montiel, though the former came before each fighters prime down at flyweight, and the latter when Nonito won the WBC bantamweight title.

Nonito also beat the last fighter that receives an honourary mention, the fighter that is universally recognised as the best super flyweight currently active.

Omar Narvaez: The loss to Donaire, up at bantamweight, is the only blemish on an outstanding career for Narvaez, a former Olympian who has held titles at both 112 and 115lbs.

Narvaez, especially by today's standards, is a small super flyweight, and all the more impressive for it.

Those who try to stay on the outside and make the most of their reach advantage only end up expending more energy than Narvaez, who takes small steps towards his man, relying on defensive nous and a steady work rate until he can take over in the championship rounds.

Unfortunately for Narvaez, his reign began at the end of the super flyweight boom late in the first decade of the new millennium, and it speaks volumes to me that even in an era where information and footage is more accessible than ever before, Narvaez's opponents just do not stand out as particularly impressive.

Narvaez however, is anything but.

With twelve successful defences of his WBO 115lb championship, Narvaez is the connoisseurs favourite. Not too flashy, he gets by with pure skill and dogged determination, and doesn't really even look to be slowing down much as he approaches his 40th year on the planet and passes into his 14th year as a professional.

Cesar Seda, who certainly did look the goods in his bout with Narvaez, was eventually shut down despite being far larger and seemingly having the right style (straight punches, good use of height and reach advantages and high work rate) to beat Narvaez.

At the end of this month, Narvaez will have a chance to have a legacy-defining victory.

Some will be quick to dismiss Narvaez's next challenger as being too small, but Naoya Inoue, to many the best light flyweight in the world, is not only a prodigy but has been struggling to make 108lbs since he first turned professional. The word in Japan is that Inoue has been liberated by his decision to move two divisions North, and he has youth on his side.

It may be that with an impressive win over Inoue, and perhaps a victory over the last man standing in the talent-filled flyweight division, Narvaez could surpass being respected, and become a truly legendary super flyweight champion.

It's a tough ask for a man pushing 40, which is the equivalent of being 50 in the lower weight classes.

As we will see in future installments, defining victories are necessary if you are to be counted among the eight greatest super flyweights of all time.

Next up, number eight.

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