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Asia's Top Boxers Today (Second and Last Part)

By Teodoro Medina Reynoso
Thu, 26 Jan 2023

Jerwin Ancajas.
Asia has produced some of the world's finest boxers since prizefighting was introduced to the region at the turn of the 20th century primarily by the Americans and the British, coincidentally modern boxing's prime exponents and originators respectively.

As boxing was first introduced to the Philippines mainly by American servicemen and later by educators, Filipinos became Asia's first world champions and best boxers in the period between 1920s through the war years in the 1940s. Fighters like Francisco Guilledo aka Pancho Villa, Benjamin Gan aka Small Montana; Eleuterio Zapata aka Little Dado and Cipriano aka Ceferino Garcia became well known particularly in the American boxing circuit with their fistic exploits.

Later other Asian countries as Japan, Thailand, South Korea and much later, Indonesia also went into prizefighting in a bid to produce their first world champions and had their share of global prominence and recognition. There had also been a few Chinese-blooded fighters who took to the sport overcoming the great cultural obstacle.

In time, some of these countries were not only able to match the Philippines output in terms of world champions and world class Fighters but even surpass it.

But match the Philippines global impact in the sport, it is highly debatable as very few other Asian fighters could lay claim to the feats of the likes of Pancho Villa, Ceferino Garcia, Flash Elorde and most especially Manny Pacquiao.

This despite that Japan and Thailand at present have produced more world boxing champions.

In this series, we will endeavor to introduce who we consider as the top Asian fighters with a corresponding ranking based on their current status and record as well as a short narrative on their future potentials for higher achievements as well as bigger impact in global pro boxing.

Top 11-20

11. Jerwin Ancajas. Ancajas used to be one of the Philippines and Asia's longest reigning world champions until last year when his seven year rule as IBF super flyweight titlist was ended by Argentine buzzsaw Fernando Martinez who defeated him also in the immediate title rematch held likewise in the USA. He has now moved to the bantamweights. Though he has yet to prove that he can still be world champion or world class at 118lbs, Jerwin possessed the qualities and experience required to be so.

12. Kosei Tanaka. The vista looked wide open for Tanaka for bigger ring exploits especially when he became a three-weight world champion, having held the WBO mini-flyweight title from 2015 to 2016; the WBO junior-flyweight title from 2016 to 2017; and the WBO flyweight title from 2018 to 2020. Upon winning his first world title in only his fifth bout, he became the fastest Japanese fighter ever to become a world champion. Along with Vasyl Lomachenko, he is also the fastest ever fighter to win titles in three weight-classes, having accomplished the feat in only 12 bouts. But his bid for a fourth division championship came crashing down to a KO defeat to Kazuto Ioka in 2021. He has bounced back with three straight wins and is now holder of an Asian regional title.

13. Donnie Nietes. A four weight class world champion who was unbeaten in title defenses for nearly ten years until he vacated and went into semi retirement in 2019-2020. He came back and won a regional title in 2021 but his bid to regain the WBO super flyweight crown was frustrated by his former title victim Kazuto Ioka in 2022. He has remained much too much for other Asian fighters in the division though.

14. Melvin Jerusalem. Won the WBO minimumweight title very recently by a shock one punch second round knockout of the usually tough and durable then defending titlist Masataka Taniguchi in Japan. Strongly came back from a controversial decision defeat in a WBC title bid to Wanheng Menayothin in Thailand and compatriot Joey Canoy in a non title bout by unanimous decision both in winning all his succeeding fights. Has the qualities to stay champion if his camp call his next fights right so as not to fall prey to hometown decision which has been the downfall of many of his predecessors in the same weight class in recent years.

15. Hiroto Kyoguchi. Kyoguchi was once believed as the better world champion compared to Kenshiro Teraji when the two were still lording as WBA and Ring lineal and WBC light flyweight champions respectively. But Hiroto failed in his acid test and was dominated and eventually stopped in the later rounds. However, it would be foolish for other light flyweight fighters to underestimate the only once beaten former champion.

16. Ginjiro Shigeoka. The older and more popular of the Shigeoka fighting siblings, the other being the also still unbeaten Yudai, Ginjiro recently saw his dream of becoming a world champion dashed when his title fight versus IBF minimumweight champion Daniel Valladares was declared a no contest after just two rounds when the Mexican was cut and pronounced as unfit to continue. Ginjiro however is pursuing an immediate title rematch.

17. Jade Bornea. Jade is an outstanding former amateur boxer who holds wins over Morudjon Akhmadaliev and Kosei Tanaka at flyweight. Still undefeated as a pro with a career record of 18 wins no loss with 12 coming by way of knockout. Bornea won an IBF title eliminator fight by knockout over Muhammad Obbadi in the USA last year and is current mandatory challenger to IBF super flyweight titlist Fernando Martinez.

18. Dave Apolinario. Apolinario is currently the International Boxing Organization world flyweight champion winning that crown via 2nd round knockout of veteran South African Gideon Buthelezi in Capetown last year. He is still unbeaten with a record of 17-0-0 with 12 KOs. Tall and long for a flyweight, Apolinario is bidding to become a major world belt holder in due time as he is likewise rated highly by the major boxing sanctioning bodies.

19. Yudai Shigeoka. Yudai is a Japanese professional boxer who has held the WBO Asia Pacific mini-flyweight title since November 2021. As of 2022, he is ranked as among the world's best active mini-flyweight by BoxRec. With only six pro bouts, all wins, four by knockout, Yudai holds wins over world rated fellow Japanese Tsoubasa Koura and Filipino Lito Dante who are the only fighters to have not fallen to the knockout power of Yudai. Yudai figures to follow in the footsteps of his brother Ginjiro and may even succeed where Ginjiro failed in his first try.

20. Miel Fajardo. Miel hugged the boxing headlines last year by upset stoppage of Argentina's highly touted and world rated Mauro Gauto who is handled by former world champion Marcos Rene Maidana. He followed it up by registering unofficially the fastest knockout victory of just seven seconds into the fight against a Thai fighter. He has a record of six wins, 5 by KOs against a loss against fellow Filipino ArAr Andales on points and a draw.

Others in consideration - Pedro Taduran, ArAr Andales, Vic Saludar and Rene Mark Cuatro (all at minimumweight); Mark Vicelles, Regie Sugnob, Masamachi Yabuki (light flyweight); Seigo Yuri Akui (flyweight); Jayson Vayson, Genesis Libranza (super flyweight), Vincent Astrolabio (bantamweight); Marlon Tapales, Yoshiki Takei (super bantamweight); and Lienard Sarcon (featherweight).

The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at and by phone 09215309477.

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Teodoro Medina Reynoso.

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