By Joaquin M. Henson, Philstar.com
At the end of last year, there were 32 Filipino fighters in the top 10 ratings of the five top professional boxing bodies, namely the World Boxing Council (WBC), World Boxing Association (WBA), IBF (International Boxing Federation), WBO (World Boxing Organization) and IBO (International Boxing Organization). Several fighters were listed in multiple ratings so that if you isolate individuals separately, 21 out of 32 names came out.
As this year comes to an end, there is a dramatic 75 percent increase in Filipino fighters rated in the top 10 of the same five bodies. The list is up to 56 with 30 isolated individuals. This excludes the three Filipino reigning world champions – IBF lightflyweight titlist Milan Melindo, IBF flyweight ruler Donnie Nietes and IBF superflyweight king Jerwin Ancajas.
Four Filipinos are rated No. 1 – superflyweight Jonas Sultan by the IBF, welterweight Manny Pacquiao and superbantamweight Marlon Tapales by the IBO and minimumweight Robert Paradero by the WBO. They’re all lined up as mandatory title challengers. Seven are No. 2 contenders and within a whisker of a mandatory championship crack – welterweight Pacquiao, featherweight Mark Magsayo, superflyweight Aston Palicte, lightflyweight Jonathan Taconing and flyweight Vic Saludar by the WBO, flyweight Brian Viloria by the WBA and Taconing again by the WBC.
At the moment, three Filipinos are booked for title fights. On Dec. 31, Melindo takes on WBA lightflyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi in a unification title fight in Tokyo. On Jan. 27, No. 14 contender Mercito Gesta of Mandaue faces WBA lightweight champion Jorge Linares at the Forum in Inglewood, California. Gesta is trained by Freddie Roach who used to work with Linares. On Feb. 3, Ancajas will stake his IBF 115-pound crown against Mexico’s Israel Gonzalez in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Another Filipino, Nonito Donaire Jr., is tentatively scheduled to battle Ireland’s Carl Frampton in Belfast on April 7 in what could be a featherweight title eliminator. Donaire, 35, has held the IBF flyweight, interim WBA superflyweight, WBC/WBO bantamweight, IBF/WBA/WBO superbantamweight and WBA featherweight crowns. Frampton, 30, was the IBF/WBA superbantamweight and WBA featherweight champion. They’re both itching to get back on the throne.
Among the championship prospects are Magsayo, Palicte and Paradero. Magsayo, 22, has an 18-0 record, with 13 KOs including seven in the first round. Paradero, 21, boasts a 16-0 mark, with 11 KOs. Palicte, 26, totes a 24-2 mark, with 20 KOs and is coming off a fifth round stoppage of Mexico’s Jose Alfredo Rodriguez in Round Rock, Texas, last Dec. 8.
Tapales, 25, is a former WBO bantamweight titleholder and should be in line for a crack at a second crown in the superbantamweight division. He has a 30-2 record, with 13 KOs. Taconing, 30, lost to Mexico’s Ganigan Lopez in a bid for the WBC lightflyweight belt last year but remains highly regarded with a record of 26-3-1, including 22 KOs. Sultan, 26, will meet the winner of the Feb. 3 title fight between Ancajas and Gonzalez. His biggest feat was beating two-time world champion Johnriel Casimero on points last September.
Here’s the complete list of Filipinos in the top 10 world ratings: WBO – Pacquiao No. 2 welterweight; Jason Pagara No. 6 superlightweight; Magsayo No. 2, Genesis Servania No. 5, Jhack Tepora No. 6 featherweight; Donaire No. 3, Tapales No. 5, Juan Miguel Elorde No. 6 superbantamweight; Palicte No. 2, Sultan No. 7 superflyweight; Viloria No. 4, Froilan Saludar No. 9 flyweight; Taconing No. 2, Randy Petalcorin No. 4, Christian Araneta No. 8, Vince Paras No. 9 lightflyweight; Paradero No. 1, Vic Saludar No. 2, Mark Anthony Barriga No. 6, Jerry Tomogdan No. 9 minimumweight.
WBA – Viloria No. 2 flyweight; Taconing No. 4, Jessie Espinas No. 8, Araneta No. 9 lightflyweight; Rey Loreto No. 6 minimumweight. WBC – Pacquiao No. 3 welterweight; Donaire No. 4, Magsayo No. 7 featherweight; Mark John Yap No. 5, Arthur Villanueva No. 10 bantamweight; Sultan No. 5, Palicte No. 9 superflyweight; Viloria No. 7 flyweight; Taconing No. 2, Petalcorin No 9 lightflyweight; Melvin Jerusalem No. 8 minimumweight.
IBF – Albert Pagara No. 9 superbantamweight; Yap No. 8 bantamweight; Sultan No. 1, Palicte No. 5, Rene Dacquel No. 6, Casimero No. 8 superflyweight; Viloria No. 5 flyweight; Petalcorin No. 3 junior flyweight; Barriga No. 5 minimumweight. IBO – Pacquiao No. 1 welterweight; Donaire No. 6 featherweight; Tapales No. 1 superbantamweight; Yap No. 5, Sultan No. 4, Casimero No. 6 superflyweight; Viloria No. 3 flyweight; Taconing No. 8, Espinas No. 9 lightflyweight; Loreto No. 3, Joey Canoy No. 5, Jerusalem No. 6 minimumweight.