SINGAPORE – Pound-for-pound lists are totally subjective.
They’re mythical, hypothetical and absolutely a matter of opinion rather than that of fact. Whoever sits atop at pole position also depends on who you ask. But while opinions do differ, pound-for-pound lists are a fun way to talk boxing.
With the rise of Manny Pacquiao came the rise of Philippine boxing. Indeed, Pacquiao has opened the door for young Pinoy boxing stars like Nonito Donaire Jr. and Brian Viloria. Groups like the ALA Boxing Gym of Cebu and Touch Gloves Boxing Gym of Batangas also came to prominence with their own stables of formidable pugilists.
The rich boxing talent in the country inspired Rappler to create its own list to honor the fighters we believe are the pound-for-pound best in the nation.
Here is Rappler's top 10 pound-for-pound list of Filipino boxers:
1) Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38 KO)
There’s really no debate as to who the #1 fighter out of the Philippines should be and there’s really nothing left to say. The accolades pile on and on. Multi-divisional champion. The only boxer in the history of the sport to win 8 titles in as many weight classes. Destroys opponents in the ring with blinding speed and devastating power. Fights anyone, “anytime, anywhere” he says.
Pacquiao is currently ranked as #2 in RING Magazine's pound-for-pound list of world boxers along with Floyd Mayweather. The #1 spot is vacant for now, but there's no doubt on our list that he's on top.
Previous Fight: Juan Manuel Marquez (W – Majority Decision) Next Fight: Timothy Bradley (June 9, 2012)
2) Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire Jr. (28-1, 18 KO)
Donaire has remained unbeaten since his 3rd professional fight back in 2001. He’s on an unbelievable 26-fight win streak that includes victories over Vic Darchinyan, Volodymyr Sydorenko, Fernando Montiel and just recently Wilfredo Vasquez Jr. He’s ambidextrous, meaning he can fight in both the orthodox and southpaw stance.
Donaire is a student of the sweet science who carefully breaks opponents down and destroys them with his vaunted speed and punching power. His height and reach advantages are always a problem for whoever he faces.
Previous Fight: Wilfredo Vasquez Jr. (W – Split Decision) Next Fight: Jeffrey Mathebula (July 7, 2012)
3) Brian “The Hawaiian Punch” Viloria (31-3, 18 KO)
Viloria has had a rough career that included a few setbacks, but the good news is he’s finally got his groove again, posting impressive victories over some top caliber opponents in Ulises Solis, Pingo Miranda, Giovani Segura and Omar Nino Romero.
He’s not a perfect fighter, Viloria has some glaring flaws like passiveness and lack of stamina – but he’s taken strides to improve himself and is now a beast in the lower weight classes. There seems to be no one who can stop Viloria’s rise to the top, but we’d all certainly love to see anyone try.
Previous Fight: Omar Nino Romero (W – TKO9) Next Fight: TBA
4) Donnie “Ahas” Nietes (29-1-3, 16 KO)
Nietes is the only consistent Pinoy boxing champion aside from the top two in our list.
He hasn’t lost since 2004 and bravely fights opponents on their home turf, often fighting in Mexico. He’s the only Philippine fighter who is undefeated in Mexico, beating Mario Rodriguez, Manuel Vargas and Erik Ramirez to successfully defend his WBO Minimumweight Title three times. He possesses a sound set of boxing skills that confounds opponents and breaks them down systematically.
Previous Fight: Ramon Garcia Hirales (W – Unanimous Decision) Next Fight: Felipe Salguero (June 2, 2012)
5) Milan “Method Man” Melindo (28-0, 10 KO)
Melindo is not the typical pinoy fighter focused on power and volume punching. He is a technician in the ring who studies opponents and exploits flaws. He’s a master at ring generalship and is one of the smartest fighters in the game.
He doesn’t have much power, but that is compensated for by his immense boxing ability. Melindo is largely untested but his talent and potential is clearly off the charts.
Previous Fight: Juan Esquer (W – TKO7) Next Fight: Jesus Geles (June 2, 2012)
6) Denver “The Excitement” Cuello (31-4-6, 21 KO)
Don’t let the record fool you, most of Cuello’s losses and draws came in the early stages of his career when he admittedly was just using Boxing to pay the bills. Since then, he’s renewed his focus on the sport and his career.
With his newfound love for the game came his coming of age as a fighter. His nickname says it all. “The Excitement” combines monstrous power and unparalleled toughness, a combination which produces exciting knockout victories. He’s won his last 10 fights by stoppage. Cuello is the absolute most feared in his division and could be the Philippines’ most-avoided fighter.
Previous Fight: Ganigan Lopez (W – TKO2) Next Fight: TBA
7) Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta (25-0-1, 13 KO)
Gesta is another Pinoy boxer who is largely untested but with talent that leaps right off the page. Fighting out of San Diego, California but originally from Mandaue City, Cebu, Gesta has made a name for himself in the international scene and is on the verge of landing huge fights against the likes of Juan Manuel Marquez and Brandon Rios.
He’s one of Philippine boxing’s most promising young stars and is due for a title shot in the very near future. Gesta is another pinoy fighter who is trying to change the “Pacquiao mold” and brings more than just athleticism to the table. Aside from being stylishly technical, he’s also blazing fast and packs power in both hands.
Previous Fight: Oscar Cuero (W – TKO8) Next Fight: TBA
8) Drian “Gintong Kamao” Francisco (22-1-1, 17 KO)
Francisco's blend of unorthodox ring tactics borders on purposeful awkwardness and flamboyant showboating. There’s really no way to properly describe his style.
He’s been known to throw “no-look” punches to surprise his opponents and throw them out of rhythm. Aside from that, like a typical pinoy fighter, he also has devastating knockout power highlighted by a very dangerous overhand right. Francisco suffered his first defeat last year but has promised Filipino fight fans he’d bounce back with a vengeance.
Previous Fight: Pichitchai Twins Gym (W – KO1) Next Fight: TBA
9) Sonny Boy Jaro (34-10-5, 24 KO)
Most would have described Sonny Boy as a journeyman – a stepping stone for aspiring young pugilists and proven champions.
Such is the case with Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, Thailand’s most loved boxing champion and percieved to be “the man” in his division. Wonjongkam thought of Jaro most likely as a stay-busy fight. That was of course, until they got in the ring.
Jaro battered Wonjongkam from pillar to post en-route to a shocking 6th round knockout in what could perhaps be the upset of the year. Jaro’s future from here on out looks promising indeed.
Previous Fight: Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (W – TKO6) Next Fight: Toshiyuki Igarashi (July 16, 2012)
10) Rodel “Batang Mandaue” Mayol (31-5-2, 22KO)
Mayol has always been one of the Philippines’ best talents. However, bad career decisions had often derailed him and he’s never been able to realize his full potential. His last showing however, showed his true skills and a bright future ahead.
Against Julio Cesar “Pingo” Miranda, Mayol’s superior technique and power took center stage. Mayol’s boxing skills and speed were too much for the hard charging and durable Mexican, who took Mayol’s best punches but never quit. It was an amazing fight from start to finish as both fighters looked to spark fireworks. In the end, it was perhaps Mayol’s best performance in his career – a thorough drubbing of Miranda.
Previous Fight: Julio Cesar Miranda (W – Unanimous Decision) Next Fight: TBA
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