the13th POLL

Who Wins Canelo vs Golovkin III?


2007 began with 4 long-reigning champions ruling the flyweight division and with two former light flyweight champions, one already a flyweight interim champion, poised to make an impact at 112 pounds.

Thailand's Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, who won the WBC title on March 2, 2001 with a 1st round TKO of defending champion Malcolm Tunacao, began 2007 with a 63-2 record. He had successfully defended his title a record 16 times.

Undefeated Omar Narvaez, the WBO champion, had won his title on points from Adonis Rivas on July 13, 2002. Entering 2007, the Argentinian Narvaez was 23-0-2 and had successfully retained his title on 9 occasions.

Lorenzo Parra, also undefeated, had captured the WBA belt from Eric Morel, unanimously outpointing the Wisconsin-based Puerto Rican on December 6, 2003. In 2004 and 2005, Parra, of Venezuela, made 5 successful defenses, turning back the challenges of Takefumi Sakata, former WBC light flyweight champion Yo Sam Choi, Trash Nakanuma, Sakata again (and again by majority decision), and former Olympic gold medalist Brahim Asloum. A planned 2006 defense against former WBA light flyweight champion and then WBA no. 1 ranked flyweight contender Roberto Vasquez was scratched because of injuries suffered by Parra. With the 27-0 Parra again healthy, lower weight class fans eagerly awaited his return to the ring.

The hard-punching, unorthodox Vic Darchinyan owned the IBF and IBO titles. The Armenia-born Australian had taken the IBF championship from Irene Pacheco on an 11th round TKO on December 16, 2004 and, in his first defense, unified the IBF and IBO titles by stopping defendiing IBO kingpin Mzukisi Sikali in 8 rounds on March 27, 2005. Darchinyan remained undefeated (27-0) as he made 4 additional successful defenses in 2005 and 2006 including halting previously unbeaten Luis Maldonado. The only other blemish on Maldonado's record was a 12-round draw with future WBC super flyight champion Cristian Mijares.

WBA interim champion Roberto Vasquez entered 2007 with a 24-1 record. He had won the vacant WBA light flyweight title by knocking out former WBA champion Beibis Mendoza in 10 on April 29, 2005. He defended the title 3 times with wins over former WBC strawweight champion Jose Antonip Aguirre (TKO-4), Nerys Espinoza (UD 12), and former two-time WBA minimumweight champion Noel Arambulet (UD 12). Vasquez then relinquished the light flyweight belt to campaign as a flyweight. As previously mentioned, his mandatory shot at Parra was canceled when the champion was injured in training. The WBA sanctioned an interim title bout between Vasquez and perennnial contender Sakata. Vasquez eked out a controversial split decision win on December 2, 2006.

Vasquez' incredibly popular successor at 108 pounds, Koki Kameda declared he was vacating the WBA junior flyweight title to return to the ranks of the flyweights. Kameda had won the vacant title at 108 with a somewhat unpopular and definitely disappointing split decison over Juan Landaeta on August 2, 2006. On December 20, 2006, Kameda redeemed himself as he improved to 13-0 with a solid unanimous decision over Landaeta in his one and only title defense. His subsequent announcement that he was relinquished his crown at 108 pounds to seek a title at 112 immediately resulted in rumors regarding a Wonjongkam-Kameda superfight.

Darchinyan was the first of the champs to defend in 2007. On March 3, he brutally halted a game but overmatched former IBF junior flyweight champion Victor Burgos in the 12th round. Burgos was rushed to a Los Angeles hospital where he life was saved by an emergency operation. The scrappy Burgos is now undergoing physical therapy but has a long way to go before he can resume a normal life.

Exactly one week after Darchinyan retained his belts, Narvaez retained his by defeating Asloum in France, winning a unanimous decision.

Nine days later, on March 19, the division's first major upset occurred. Parra, scheduled to defend against Sakata for the 3rd time, lost his title on the scales, weighing in 4 3/4 pounds over the flyweight limit. The fight went on but only Sakata, who weighed in at the limit of 112 pounds, if victorious, could gain the vacant title. Parra fought somewhat effectively in the first round but took a pounding in the second. Sakata became the new WBA champion when Parra failed to leave his stool after the bell for the 3rd round sounded.

On March 24, Kameda scored a 10-round decision over 3-time world title challenger, Everardo Morales, the then WBC Continental Americas champion. In his 3 world title shots, Morales had lost by unanimous decision to then WBO champ Carlos Salazar in 1997, by TKO-5 to Narvaez in 2003, and by TKO-4 to Wonjongkam in 2006.

Wonjongkam, who had stopped the ill-fated Lito Sisnorio in 4 in a non-title bout January 26, made his first title defense of 2007 (and 17th overall) on April 6th. He stopped Tomobu Shimizu in 7. Shimizu came into the fight with only a 10-1 record but had posted 3 significant wins- over Hiroyuki Hisataka, Kenji Yoshida, and Fahpetchnoi Sor Chitpattana. Those wins qualified him as an opponent in an optional defense but being qualified to fight for the title and being able to fight competitively in a title bout, as Shimizu discoved, do not necessarily equate.

Kameda's management chose not to immediately pursue a bout with Wonjongkam (much to the THai's disappointment). Instead, they chose Indonesian Irfan Ogah, who was coming off a TKO loss to veteran Filipino lightweight Juanito Rubillar, as Koki's next opponent. On May 23, Kameda stopped Ogah, who fell to 5-2 or 16-3-4 (depending on the source) in the 8th round.

Sakata was next "to the plate." He honored his contractual agreement to defend against Vasquez. While their first fight resulted in a somewhat questionable win for the Panamanian, their July 1st bout saw Sakata retain his title with a close but non-controversial upset unanimous decision.

Only 6 days passed when super flyweight contender Nonito Donaire, a California-based Filipino, dropped back down to 112 and shockingly knocked out his brother Glen's conqueror, Vic Darchinyan, in the 5th round, thus winning the IBF and IBO titles.

The division's 4th and biggest upset was yet to come.

Unable to secure the "superfight" with Kameda, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam's management agreed to the largest financial offer made to them- one considerably larger than that made to meet Darchinyan. So, for the third time, the now 65-2 southpaw would defend against Daisuke Naito. Naito, 30-2-2, had suffered a humiliating 34 second knockout loss to Wonjongkam in 2002 and, in 2005, had lost to the champion on a one-sided, unanimous 7-round technical decision. However, Naito's people felt Wonjongkam was not as motivated, as fast, nor as sharp as he had been in the past. They knew Pongsaklek had seen his much anticipated fight with Jorge Arce fall through when the card's main event, Lucia Rijker vs. Christy Martin. never materialized. They knew Wonjongkam, already mulling retirement, was frustrated that the multi-million dollar showdown with Kameda had not gotten past the proposal stage. Although the champ had looked good in his mandatory defense against South African Monelisi "Showtime" Myekeni in November, his subsequent bnouts , although TKO victories, were not consistently impressive. He finished well but seemed to be going through the motions at points in both fights.

Weighing in for his July 18 defense, Wonjongkam was a bit over the limit and had to sweat off the extra weight. He made the weight in his second attempt but it was an indication that a possible upset might be in the making. As Naito had expected, the Thai great was not as sharp in the early going as he usually was and although Wonjongkam had some fine moments, Naito had a few more. When the officials' cards were read, Daisuke Naito had won unanimously- 116-113, 115-113, and 116-113. Naito, who, over the years, had earned all 3 of his title shots- with a draw with Sakata and with wins over Teppei Kikui, Hiroshi Nakano, Nobuyuki Enomoto, Daigo Nakahiro, and fellow perennial contender Noriyuki Komatsu, ended the the 6 year, 4 month, and 16 day reign of the flyweight division's most proficient champion.

So, with 4 major upsets already in 2007, what's next for this deep but mostly unappreciated division? Narvaez faces a mandatory challenge from EBU European champion Andrea Sarritzu. Sarritzu, who recently fought to a draw with one-time Narvaez-victim Bernard Inom, knows the champion well. He's challenged Narvaez for the title twice before (sound familiar?)- losing by split decision in 2002 and holding Navaez to a draw in 2003. Since that stalemate, Narvaez is 10-0, Sarritzu 9-1-2. The Italian has beaten France's Christophe Rodrigues twice since fighting to a draw with him and he stopped Spaniard Ivan Pozo in their rematch after losing their first bout on points.

Koki Kameda will be fighting Texan Cesar Lopez on July 28.

Sakata and Naito have not announced who or when they will fight next but Donaire is planning on a defense in the latter part of the year.

Darchinyan plans to move up to the super flyweight division while Vasquez is seeking a rubber match with Sakata. Wonjongkam, if he does not retire, is expected to request a 4th bout with Naito.

Maldonado, Inom, Jose "Carita" Lopez, Hussein Hussein, who wants to avenge his friend Darchinyan's loss, former WBC interim champion at both 105 and 108 Wandee Singwangcha, PABA champion Denkaosan Kaovichit, WBC Youth champion Panomroonglek Kratingdaenggym, and comebacking former WBO and current IBA champion Isidro Garcia, who decisioned Cesar Lopez in April, are all seeking title shots.

Other results that should be noted include Narvaez, Wonjongkam, and Kameda victim Morales losing his Continental Americas title to unheralded Francisco Marquez in May, veteran Gilberto Keb Baas retaining his NABF title with a draw against heavy underdog Rodolfo Martinez June 16, and, 15 days earlier, Alejandro Hernandez, who owns a win over Keb Baas, holding onto his WBO Latino title with a 9-round technical decision over Marlon Marquez. Keb Baas, who has had two title shots, and Hernandez could also emerge as future title challengers.
Article By: Ken Pollitt