2005 – The Year in Review, plus Year- End Awards – Part 4


30.12.05 – By Paul Ruby: At Super Flyweight, the two top fighters are probably Martin Castillo and Jose Navarro. Castillo is managed by Frank Espinoza, who also manages Israel Vasquez, while Navarro is best known for being the victim of the year’s most despicable robbery in his fight against Katsushige Kawashima of Japan. Navarro is now set to return to Japan to face Kawashima’s conqueror, Masamori Tokuyama; let’s hope this trip turns out better for him than the last. Martin Castillo is slated for face Alexander Munoz in late January. Unfortunately, the two have already fought with Castillo’s skill basically neutralizing Munoz’ power for the duration of the fight. Personally, I’d prefer to see Castillo in with Fernando Montiel or Rosendo Alvarez, but those are fight that will have to wait for another day.

The Flyweight division is probably boxing’s most competitive division below 130 pounds, where at least four fighters can legitimately claim to be the division’s best – Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, Lorenzo Parra, Vic Darchinyan, and Jorge Arce. Among them, Arce is the probably the strongest and most complete fighter. Wonjongkam has toiled in Asia, and is on the back end of his career. Darchinyan has fewer fights than Parra, but each has faced only a few top-15 quality opponents.

Comparing the two, I think the Aussie Darchinyan has more promise. He is more powerful and he is a disciplined product of Jeff Fenech’s training. Head-to-head, I would favor Darchinyan, who I believe is second only to Arce. Arce made a name for himself this year against another Australian, Hussein Hussein. The two waged a great war on the Morales-Pacquaio undercard and then Arce demolished Hussein in the rematch months later. Arce had a good a 2005 as anyone in the sport. I sincerely wish that people would take more notice of the smaller fighters in this game because their talent is on par with the larger fighters, and often exceeds it.

American fight fans can cheer for two of the top Light Flyweights in the world in Brian Viloria and Will Grigsby. Viloria is the 2000 Olympian trained by Freddie Roach. He captured the WBC 108-pound title with a sensational knockout of Eric Ortiz on the Morales/Raheem undercard. The public was high on Viloria when he first turned pro, but lost interest after he failed to produce knockouts. His victory over Ortiz shows that Viloria has power and will probably be more of a force at 108 than he could have been at 112. He’s now set to face former Strawweight kingpin Jose Aguirre in February.

In his last two fights, Aguirre has been knocked out and quit, so hopefully Viloria can provide some excitement. The other American in the fray is Minnesotan Will Grigsby. Grigsby has been a professional for 17 years, but has fought only 23 times. Despite inactivity and managerial problems, Grigsby has precision punching skills that rival almost anyone in the sport. Grigsby lacks big power, but shocked many in beating Victor Burgos on the Wright/Trinidad undercard. Grigsby faces 19-1-1 Ulises Solis next week in what should prove to be an interesting fight that should feature Grigsby boxing circles around his younger foe. Remember, the only fighters Grigsby has ever lost to are the inimitable Finito Lopez and Michael Carbajal. Of course, Grigby turns 36 in three months, and that is positively ancient for a fighter at 108. The best fighter in the division, however, is probably Roberto Vasquez, a 22 year old Panamanian who can do it all. Vasquez took part in a fight with Beibis Mendoza in April that many thought was an early frontrunner for fight of the year until Corrales/Castillo.