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Boxing Ranks in Review: Minimumweights

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Photo Courtesy of AP

Welcome to Today’s Knockout’s “Ranks in Review”, a feature where, over the last few months, we examined one boxing division every week, starting with the heavyweights and today, reaching the 105-pound minimumweights. Our champions will be the men who have earned it the ring, not been handed a belt by a combination of letters, and our rankings come from the computers of boxing’s most valuable website, BoxRec.

Like their cousins at 108 pounds, the 105 pounders have never caught the imagination of the boxing world. They don’t even have a consistent name, being called mininumweights, strawweights, paperweights and really tiny people.

Other than Ricardo Lopez’s legendary reign from 1990-98, there’s never been a superstar at 105 pounds, and even Lopez finished his 51-0-1 career at 108.

CHAMPION: VACANT

Francisco Rodriguez Jr. took the linear title from Katusnari Takayama in a fight-of-the-year contender in August 2014, but immediately vacated it to move up to 108 pounds. In the last 16 months, the identity of the No. 1 contender has changed, but they have never gotten into the ring with another top-five fighter.

No. 1 Contender: Wanheng Menayothin (40-0, Thailand)

Menayothin became the No. 1 contender after knocking out WBC champ Oswaldo Novoa in November 2014, and while he has fought four times since, he hasn’t fought a top opponent in any of them. In Thai tradition, he even fought a six-round non-title fight with Ardi Buyung, who came in with a 2-4 record.

Menayothin knocked out Young Gil Bae last month, and will hopefully look for a fight with another alphabet champ in 2016.

No. 2 Contender: Katusnari Takayama (30-7, Japan)

After Rodriguez left the weight class, Takayama regained the IBF belt with a seventh-round knockout of Go Odaira on New Year’s Eve. He’s defended it twice without much trouble, and is scheduled to fight on one of Japan’s traditional New Year’s Eve cards against limited Mexican Jose Argumedo.

No. 3 Contender: Hekkie Budler (29-1, South Africa)

The “Hexecutioner” is probably the best fighter at 105 pounds, but he won’t get into the ring with anyone tough enough to prove it. Since winning the WBA belt in March 2014, he’s defended the title four times against opponents with a combined 20 losses. Most recently, he won an entertaining decision over fellow South African Simphiwe Khonco.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mt-Ymrq0S-M

Budler vs. Menayothin is a fight that wouldn’t draw any attention on its own in the United States, but would be an entertaining matchup as the first fight on a PBC card.

No. 4 Contender: Knockout CP Freshmart (11-0, Thailand)

No, that’s not his birthname. While a lot of boxers sell advertising space on their trunks, it is common for Thai fighters to use sponsor’s names as their own nom de guerre. So Thammanoon Niyomtrong becomes Knockout CP Freshmart.

In a perfect example of the corruption of alphabet organizations, Freshmart won the interim WBA title in October 2014, and has defended it twice. The problem is that’s no need for an interim champion, as Budler is defending the regular title perfectly well on his own. Eventually, he is supposed to get a shot at Budler, but that doesn’t seem to be happening any time soon.

No. 5 Contender: Kosei Tanaka (5-0, Japan)

Fighters can progress rapidly in the lower weight classes, especially since older fighters tend to grow past 105 pounds, but Tanaka has moved at ridiculous speed. In his fourth pro fight, he won the Pacific minimumweight title, and in his fifth, he picked up the WBO “world” title.

Tanaka only turned 20 in June, and like most top Japanese champions, will be defending his belt against a fairly easy opponent on New Year’s Eve.

If you’ve missed out on any of our previous rankings, be sure to check them out below:

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