1. Kazuto Ioka (21-1, 13 KO, WBA World)
Fought twice in 2016, knocking out Keyvin Lara in the 11th round on July 20, followed by a seventh round stoppage of Stamp Kiatniwat on New Year’s Eve in Kyoto. Ioka, 27, is a fairly weak No. 1 for the division, in all honesty, but last year’s top two flyweights, Roman Gonzalez and Juan Francisco Estrada, both moved up in weight this year, and the spot was kind of just left open.
2. John Riel Casimero (23-3, 15 KO)
Recently vacated his IBF belt and plans to join Gonzalez and Estrada at super flyweight in 2017, but he’s ranked here because he hasn’t officially moved up with an actual fight yet. Casimero was beaten by Amnat Ruenroeng in a messy fight in June 2015, then knocked Ruenroeng out in May of this year, followed by a successful title defense over Charlie Edwards in September.
3. Donnie Nietes (39-1-4, 22 KO)
Nietes was the top guy at 108 pounds, beating Raul Garcia on May 28 in his final fight as a junior flyweight, before moving up to flyweight on September 24, when he shut out veteran Edgar Sosa over 12 rounds at the StubHub Center in California. At 34, Nietes is no guarantee to make a successful transition up, but he’s a good fighter and this is a weak division right now. If I hadn’t kept Casimero ranked here for the moment, I’d have Nietes No. 2 almost entirely on his reputation from 108.
4. Juan Carlos Reveco (37-3, 19 KO)
Fought just one time in 2016, an easy win in Argentina over countryman Diego Luis Pichardo. He doesn’t have anything you could really call a good win since 2014, but his two losses to Ioka in 2015 aren’t big knocks, either. At 33, we’ve seen the best of him.
5. Amnat Ruenroeng (17-1, 5 KO)
He’s 37 and he lost his only fight this year, plus he was pretty much embarrassed at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, losing in the round of 16. But again, there just isn’t a lot of proven talent at 112 right now, and Ruenroeng, despite the loss to Casimero in May, does have 2015 wins over Shiming Zou, Casimero, and Myung Ho Lee to back him up, plus 2014 wins over Rocky Fuentes, Kazuto Ioka, and McWilliams Arroyo.
6. Daigo Higa (11-0, 11 KO)
A 21-year-old puncher with some decent wins, and the current reigning OPBF champion, which slots him in higher than he may deserve. Or maybe he deserves to be a spot or two higher. We’ll find out more in 2017.
7. McWilliams Arroyo (16-3, 14 KO)
He’s lost two of his last three, but his defeat against Ruenroeng in 2014 was razor thin, and losing to Chocolatito this year is no slight on his ability. Arroyo could really rank higher on ability, but he just doesn’t fight often enough. His only win since 2014 came in 2015, against Victor Ruiz.
8. Nawaphon Por Chockchai (36-0, 28 KO)
25-year-old Thai, unbeaten against marginal opposition, lined up for a WBC title shot. Basically, we’ll learn soon if he can fight or not.
9. Juan Hernandez Navarrete (33-2, 24 KO)
Hasn’t fought at flyweight in a minute, but is returning to face Nawaphon Por Chockchai for the vacant WBC belt in March 2017. Look, I’m trying to fill out a top ten here. Counting Navarrete makes it a little easier.
10. Andrew Selby (7-0, 5 KO)
Already winning minor IBF belts, and being fast-tracked to a world title shot. At 28, Selby is right in his prime, and he’s a very talented fighter and was an accomplished amateur. In seven fights, he’s proven as much as Nawaphon or Higa, really, and has already won the British title, as well, which to be fair, this is not the deepest domestic division in the UK scene.