A formidable prime three prepared the ground within the bantamweight division, a weight class that could be a followers’ favorite for good purpose, writes Matt Christie

10. Joshua Greer Jnr (USA)
File: 22-1-1 (12) Age: 25 Peak: 5ft 4ins
The Chicago fighter was attributable to tackle Filipino Mike Plania in a Las Vegas 10-rounder simply hours after we went to press. Greer is closing in on an alphabet title shot: He’s the WBO’s obligatory, ranked second by the IBF and stands at ninth with the WBC. The 25-year-old survived a capturing in 2016 the place his buddy and fellow prospect, Ed Brown, was killed.

STRENGTHS: Quick arms and wonderful counter-puncher. Carries good one-punch energy in his proper hand. His gimmick – a pillow that claims ‘night time night time’ on it, which he waves after scoring a knockout – is amusing if bordering on dangerous style.

WEAKNESSES: His stamina has been referred to as into query and he’s been dropped twice as an expert.

BEST PERFORMANCE: Survived a rocky 10th and ultimate bout to edge the strong Antonio Nievas in his most up-to-date bout.

WORST PERFORMANCE: His 12-round win over Nikolai Potapov was booed by followers who when the decision was introduced.

WATCH ON YOUTUBE: Greer appeared to be tiring going into the sixth of his 2016 conflict with James Smith. Then he out of the blue scored one of many knockouts of the yr.

HOW HIGH CAN HE GO? At 25 time is on his aspect however Greer seems to be an extended, great distance behind the leaders of this weight class.

9. Carlos Cuadras (MEX)
File: 39-3-1 (27) Age: 31 Peak: 5ft 7½ins
Virtually all indicators are pointing in direction of decline within the Mexican veteran. Although solely 31 and the winner of three fights in a row, it’s arduous to recognise the Cuadras who was going toe-to-toe with the likes of Roman Gonzalez and Juan Francisco Estrada down at super-flyweight as the identical fighter at this time. The previous WBC 115lbs champion will not be a pure bantamweight regardless of competing there in his final three bouts; if he can safe one other massive battle in his previous super-fly stomping floor, he’ll drop again down.

STRENGTHS: Expertise and stamina are two key strengths. His left hook stays a potent weapon and he’s an adept physique snatcher.

WEAKNESSES: His advancing age and fading reflexes.

BEST PERFORMANCE: Unfortunate to not get the nod over Estrada following a livid 2017 encounter. His win over Luis Concepcion two years earlier than that’s arguably his finest win.

WORST PERFORMANCE: Regarded sluggish whereas pipping Jose Maria Cardenas final September.

WATCH ON YOUTUBE: The tussle with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in 2014 noticed Cuadras win the WBC super-flyweight strap.

HOW HIGH CAN HE GO? Although there’s an opportunity the enforced layoff might do him good, Cuadras’ lengthy and punishing profession appears to be catching up.

Carlos Cuadras
Chris Farina/K2

8. Takuma Inoue (JPN)
File: 13-1 (3) Age: 24 Peak: 5ft 4½ins
The youthful brother of the fearsome division chief, Takuma shares the Inoue velocity and stamina however lacks the ability and explosiveness. Hand accidents haven’t helped his quest to step out of Naoya’s shadow however he’s a viable contender in his personal proper. He gave Nordine Obaali all types of bother after rising from a knockdown and taking the battle to the WBC champion. However he got here up brief on the playing cards – which have been very merciless to Inoue.

STRENGTHS: Snappy jabber and high quality left hooker who bursts out and in of vary to stay largely elusive.

WEAKNESSES: Too reliant on these quick toes. He has tendency to guide along with his proper hand whereas opening up his physique and rising his opponent’s goal zone.

BEST PERFORMANCE: Was disciplined all through his 12-round factors win over the 48-Zero Tasana Salapat on the finish of 2018.

WORST PERFORMANCE: He was dropped by Froilan Saludar en path to successful the 10-rounder on the playing cards.

WATCH ON YOUTUBE: The scrap with Oubaali was overshadowed by the primary occasion (Naoya Inoue vs Nonito Donaire) however is worthy of one other viewing, if solely to attempt to work out how one choose scored 120-107 towards him.

HOW HIGH CAN HE GO? He nonetheless seems to be bettering so could make a dent additional up this checklist sooner or later.

TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

7. Luis Nery (MEX)
File: 30-0 (24) Age: 25 Peak: 5ft 6ins
The southpaw is a former WBC champion who was stripped of his title for failing to make weight forward of his 2018 rematch with Shinsuke Yamanaka. But he was allowed to maintain the title after failing a drug check earlier than dethroning Yamanaka in 2017. Meals contamination was put ahead by the WBC as the explanation for banned substance zilpaterol showing in his system when he was examined in Mexico. Making weight is an issue for Nery, no query. He missed out on the possibility to battle Emmanuel Rodriguez as lately as November as a result of he couldn’t make the divisional restrict. For that bout he was being skilled by Freddie Roach however has since switched to Eddy Reynoso.

STRENGTHS: Chic infighter with great energy in his left hand.

WEAKNESSES: Making weight is the plain one. May be reckless and telegraph his looping energy arm.

BEST PERFORMANCE: The drug controversy apart, Nery seemed devastating whereas ending the 13-fight reign of Yamanaka.

WORST PERFORMANCE: Laboured to an eight-round break up choice win over Victor Mendez in 2014.

WATCH ON YOUTUBE: He rose from the canvas to halt Arthur Villanueva in 2017.

HOW HIGH CAN HE GO? Represents a monstrous problem for all above him if he can keep within the division.

Luis Nery
Naoki Fukuda

6. Jason Moloney (AUS)
File: 20-1 (17) Age: 29 Peak: 5ft 5ins
The Aussie made a mark on the world scene when he pushed then-unbeaten Emmanuel Rodriguez all the way in which earlier than dropping a break up choice in 2018. Although he was outfought within the early going he battled again within the championship rounds to make it shut. Had the bout have been over 15 rounds, Moloney – all the time supremely conditioned – would have been favoured to win. The dual brother of super-flyweight contender, Andrew Moloney, defeated Michael Conlan within the beginner ranks and is scheduled to tackle Oscar Negrete in Las Vegas on June 25.

STRENGTHS: A strong hitter, significantly from the precise uppercut and hook, with dogged persistence.

WEAKNESSES: His defence has let him down once in a while. Rodriguez had no drawback repeatedly scoring along with his jab.

BEST PERFORMANCE: The 2018 hammering of Kohei Kono highlighted his potential at world degree.

WORST PERFORMANCE: The primary half of the Rodriguez bout highlighted why he might wrestle towards the perfect.

WATCH ON YOUTUBE: The savage beatdown of Dixon Flores in his most up-to-date outing.

HOW HIGH CAN HE GO? Would begin as underdog towards all above him.

bantamweight Jason Moloney

5. Emmanuel Rodriguez (PRI)
File: 19-1 (12) Age: 27 Peak: 5ft 6ins
Inactive for over a yr via no fault of his personal. Earlier than coronavirus wiped boxing off the calendar, he was presupposed to tackle Luis Nery in November just for the Mexican to overlook weight. He went 171-11 as an beginner, together with victory over Robeisy Ramirez. Made his mark on the world scene in 2018 when he gained the vacant IBF strap when he impressively dominated Paul Butler over 12 rounds on the O2 Enviornment in London. His boxing profession was placed on maintain in 2010 after an vehicle accident left him with second diploma burns on 66 per cent of his physique.

STRENGTHS: A talented and decided technician with severe energy in each arms.

WEAKNESSES: By his personal admission, he struggles with the 12-round distance. Even when an eight-round fighter he would fade late.

BEST PERFORMANCE: Made the gifted Paul Butler look extraordinary on the Tony Bellew-David Haye II undercard.

WORST PERFORMANCE: Although he did properly within the opening bout towards Naoya Inoue, he was stopped within the second.

WATCH ON YOUTUBE: Considered one of his favorite performances was the 2015 thrashing of Luis Hinojosa. It’s straightforward to see why.

HOW HIGH CAN HE GO? Count on him to rebuild with aplomb following the loss to Inoue.

Emanuel Rodriguez bantamweight

4. Nordine Oubaali (FRA)
File: 17-0 (12) Age: 33 Peak: 5ft Three 1/2ins
A two-time Olympian, Oubaali had the misfortune of assembly Zou Shimming within the 2008 Video games and Michael Conlan – on the quarter-final stage – 4 years later. Surprisingly, Oubaali additionally misplaced out to Shimming (2007) and Conlan (2011) on the Worlds. The Frenchman is having higher luck within the skilled ranks and final January claimed the vacant WBC strap when he decisioned one other previous beginner rival, Raus’hee Warren, over 12 rounds. He’s defended the belt twice with wins over Arthur Villanueva and Takuma Inoue.

STRENGTHS: The southpaw boxer-puncher, who has stellar footwork, delivers a spiteful whack to the physique.

WEAKNESSES: Even for a bantamweight, the 5ft Three 1/2ins Frenchman is brief.

BEST PERFORMANCE: Grinding down the sturdy Julio Cesar Miranda for a 12th bout stoppage win highlighted Oubaali’s tenacious spirit.

WORST PERFORMANCE: Struggled to become familiar with Takuma Inoue for lengthy intervals of their 12-rounder.

WATCH ON YOUTUBE: The victory over Warren was entertaining and showcased each fighters’ high quality.

HOW HIGH CAN HE GO? At 33 and with a mode to trigger nightmares, he might wrestle to get the alternatives to go a lot additional.

Nordine Oubaali

3. Nonito Donaire (PHI)
File: 40-6 (26) Age: 37 Peak: 5ft 7ins
Boxing Information questioned the knowledge of the ageing Filipino’s return to bantamweight when he introduced he would participate within the World Boxing Tremendous Sequence but his performances, even the one which resulted in defeat, have been a revelation. Donaire, a belt-holder in 5 divisions, is headed to the Corridor of Fame however one does marvel how rather more he can provide on the age of 37. The thrilling defeat to Nayoa Inoue was gruelling within the excessive and would even have added miles to a lot youthful clocks. However what we’ve come to understand with Donaire is rarely write him off.

STRENGTHS: Take your choose from measurement, velocity, energy and intelligence. Oh, and that well-known left hook.

WEAKNESSES: May be over-reliant on his energy and change off however, at this stage, his greatest weak point is his age.

BEST PERFORMANCE: Blitzing Fernando Montiel in two rounds again in 2011.

WORST PERFORMANCE: His profession seemed over when Nicholas Walters dominated Donaire and stopped him in six rounds in 2014.

WATCH ON YOUTUBE: Remind your self of when he gate-crashed the scene with a thunderous KO of Vic Darchinyan in 2007.

HOW HIGH CAN HE GO? Arduous to check the charismatic “Filipino Flash” going any greater.

Nonito Donaire bantamweight
Sumio Yamada

2. John Riel Casimero (PHI)
File: 29-4 (20) Age: 31 Peak: 5ft 4ins
With hindsight it appears a bit ridiculous that Casimero was given little probability of defeating Zolani Tete when he challenged for the IBF title in November final yr. A belt-holder at light-fly and flyweight, the logic appeared to be that the Filipino was not fairly sufficiently big and too crude to rule at 118lbs, however – in his 13th bout exterior of his nation – Casimero made a mockery of the percentages and the doubters. Tete by no means recovered from a proper hook within the third earlier than being stopped in the identical bout. With the bombastic show, a showdown with Naoya Inoue – slated for April earlier than lockdown wrecked the game – turned one among boxing’s hottest tickets.

STRENGTHS: The proprietor of quick and highly effective arms is totally fearless.

WEAKNESSES: He can seem disinterested and lose his means towards ring generals.

BEST PERFORMANCE: Arduous to look previous the beating of Tete however was equally emphatic when defeating Amnat Ruenroeng of their 2016 sequel.

WORST PERFORMANCE: Outpointed by Jonas Sultan in 2017.

WATCH ON YOUTUBE: The 2019 victory over Kenya Yamashita was thrilling.

HOW HIGH CAN HE GO? Would begin as underdog towards Inoue however has greater than only a puncher’s probability.

John Riel Casimero

1. Naoya Inoue (JPN)
File: 19-0 (16) Age: 27 Peak: 5ft 5ins
Is perhaps the most effective energetic fighter within the sport at this time. Arduous to consider, given all that he’s achieved, that Inoue is but to have 20 fights and has solely competed in 107 rounds as an expert. Inoue seems like he can do all of it and – in a refreshing admission – says he has by no means as soon as requested how a lot he’s getting paid when his potential opponents are put ahead. Inoue merely desires to battle the most effective opposition accessible. Inoue trains day by day and spends as a lot time practising boxing as he does honing the positivity in his thoughts.

STRENGTHS: Inoue’s mind-boggling energy is all the way down to his capacity to throw a punch with each a part of his physique. Watch any of his early finishes and you will note technical perfection.

WEAKNESSES: Not massively elusive as Nonto Donaire proved. The facial accidents he suffered – the damaged eye socket particularly – might come again to hang-out him.

BEST PERFORMANCE: The 2-round savaging of Emmanuel Rodriguez.

WORST PERFORMANCE: Has solely seemed beatable as soon as – in that titanic battle with Donaire.

WATCH ON YOUTUBE: When you’ve overdosed on the Donaire traditional, take within the impeccable KO of Juan Carlos Payano as a substitute.

HOW HIGH CAN HE GO? Can cement his standing within the sport within the coming years.

Naoya Inoue bantamweight

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