COMMENTARY | Many of the best boxers in the world get little to no recognition in the United States. Excluding the most diehard of boxing fans, great champions often fall under the radar, typically due to the weight class and country they fight in. If you're toiling away at 108 pounds and only fight in Japan or Thailand, then yes, boxing fans in the U.S. will know little about you.
A year and a half ago, I wrote about the three best boxers you didn't know. The list included Giovani Segura, Omar Narvaez and Pongsaklek Wonjongkam. Since that time, each man has tasted defeat, and Wonjongkam has retired.
That means it's time for a new collection. Here are the top 5 boxers in the world that you don't know.
Roman Gonzalez (34-0, 28 KOs) - Nicaraguan Junior Flyweight
Roman Gonzalez just received a bit of stateside exposure in an entertaining fight against challenger Juan Francisco Estrada which was televised on WealthTV. He's an undefeated, two-division champion, with fantastic power in the realm of the little guys, where speed is a more common trait than strength. It's rumored that he could seek a title in a third division, against the next guy on this list.
Brian Viloria (32-3, 19 KOs) - American Flyweight
A former U.S. Olympian from the 2000 team, Brian Viloria has had his share of ups and downs in professional boxing. Two years ago, it seemed as if perhaps Viloria had reached the end of the road. Since then though, he has reeled off impressive wins, including stoppage victories over Giovani Segura, old foe Omar Nino Romero, and titleholder Hernan Marquez.
The Viloria-Marquez fight shared the bill with Roman Gonzalez's last outing, and a fight between the winners could make sense for both men. Like Gonzalez, Viloria is himself a two-division champion, and he's never been hotter or more confident than he is right now.
Tepparith Kokietgym (21-2, 13 KOs) - Thai Super Flyweight
Tepparith Kokietgym -- that's Astro Boy, to you -- lost two of his first five fights, and is undefeated since. Captured the interim WBA Super Flyweight title by defeating the unbeaten Drian Francisco, and took the full belt by defeating Daiki Kameda (brother to Koki, below). Has also beaten Nubuo Nashiro as one of his title defenses.
Koki Kameda (28-1, 17 KOs) - Japanese Bantamweight
The sole loss in Koki Kameda's career came at the hands of Wonjongkam, who bought himself another two years at the top of the sport by taking home a close decision against Kameda in 2010. Kameda has since moved up to Bantamweight and captured the WBA title in that division, his second championship. A huge, if divisive, star in Japan, he has the skills and the charisma to potentially make a move to the States and make a splash.
Takashi Uchiyama (18-0-1, 15 KOs) - Japanese Super Featherweight
With just 19 fights on his ledger thus far, Takashi Uchiyama has already won the WBA Super Featherweight title and defended it five times. Holds impressive stoppage victories over Juan Carlos Salgado, who had been the undefeated titleholder at the time of their bout, and Jorge Solis. By far the top dog in a fairly mundane division.
Jake Emen runs the boxing news website ProBoxing-Fans.com, where you can find breaking news stories, interviews, rankings and more. You can also follow Jake and ProBoxing-Fans.com on Twitter, @ProBoxingFans.
- Sports & Recreation
- Brian Viloria
- Roman Gonzalez
- Giovani Segura
- Koki Kameda
- Pongsaklek Wonjongkam