In the past year, the two best flyweights in the world, Roman Gonzalez and Juan Fracisco Estrada both moved up to 115 pounds, making super flyweight one of the most talent-rich divisions in the sport. In addition to Estrada and Gonzalez, 115 includes Wisaksil Wangek, who edged Gonzalez in a war in March, and Carlos Cuadras, who was barely defeated by Gonzalez in another terrific bout last September. Alongside that quartet stands the Japanese phenom Naoya Inoue.
That’s five fighters in one division who could arguably be placed in the sport’s top 25.
Meanwhile, room has opened at flyweight for new stars to emerge. If a new champion is going to emerge there in the next two years, Donnie Nietes is a good candidate for that spot. The long-time light flyweight contender and former belt holder moved up to 112 pounds last year and took a one-sided decision from veteran Edgar Sosa in his division debut.
Over the past half decade, Nietes racked up a string of quality wins at 108, beating contenders like Ramon Hirales, Moises Fuentes, Francisco Rodriguez and Raul Garcia. The Ring and The Transnational Boxing Board both rate Nietes No. 3 at flyweight, behind Kazuto Ioka and Johnriel Casimero.
Nietes faces Komgrich Nantapech this weekend in the Philippines, for the vacant IBF belt. As Gonzalez learned the hard way in March, you never want to look past a determined fighter from Thailand. But this is a major step up for Nantapech.
If Nietes takes care of his business here, it should be very possible to put together the fights to establish a genuine champion within the division. Casimero is a fellow Filipino and Ioka is Japanese. There would be no need for intercontinental travel to make these fights happen. And the Asia-Pacific region has a demonstrated appreciation for warriors in the lowest weight classes.