By Rey Danseco
THE World Boxing Council (WBC) has officially ranked Manny Pacquiao as the number one contender to reigning WBC super featherweight champion Marco Antonio Barrera in the latest February world rankings.
Previously ranked as the No. 2 contender, Pacquiao has swapped places with former top ranked challenger Erik Morales after the Filipino ring idol floored the Mexican hero twice in the 10th round en route to a technical knockout win on Jan. 21 at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Pacquiao’s placement to the top means he has assurance of gaining a mandatory shot against reigning WBC super featherweight champion Marco Antonio Barrera of Mexico.
However, hindrance of the return bout seems evident. Barrera aims to become the first Mexican to win titles in four different divisions by taking on his compatriot IBF lightweight boss Jesus Chavez on March 25 in Las Vegas. His bout against a champion of another boxing organization may have forced the WBC to strip him of the title.
And if the proposed grudge fight between Pacquiao and Morales might approved on Sept. 16 at Sam Boyd Stadium also in Vegas, the Pacquiao-Barrera rematch will take places before the end of the year or early next year with or without the WBC belt.
Pacquiao vocally insisted that he don’t want to face anybody, particularly Morales at 132-pound, thinking fighting over the super featherweight limit of 130-lb may be difficult for him.
MAYOL, RUBILLAR REMAIN NO. 1
Unbeaten OPBF minimumweight king Rodel “Kid Rapido” Mayol and light flyweight Juanito Rubillar hav remained as the top ranked contenders. They are also mandated for title shots against WBC minimumweight king Eagle Kyowa and WBC light flyweight boss Brian “Filipino-Hawaiian Punch” Viloria within the year.
Castro Valley, California-based Nonito “Filipino Flash” Donaire Jr. was the only Filipino entrants in the WBC rankings. He is currently No. 14 after winning the vacant North American Boxing Federation (NABF) super flyweight belt with split decision win over Armenian Kahren Harutyunyan on Jan. 20 in Temecula, California.
OPBF super featherweight king Randy “Kamaong Maso” Suico has improved three places to top 10 rankings after his impressive fifth title defense with 4th round knockout of top ranked Japanese challenger Ryuhei Sugita on Feb. 5 in Nagoya, Japan.
OPBF welterweight king Rev Santillan took the biggest jump, from No. 33 to No. 14 after he regained the regional throne in a rematch with his tormentor Kazuhiko Hidaka on Dec. 3 in Tokyo.
Six RP boxers has kept their standings, including: flyweight Diosdado Gabi (No. 2), OPBF bantam boss Malcolm Tunacao (No. 5), Americas super featherweight king Bobby Pacquiao (No. 11), Eriberto Gejon (No. 11), super flyweight Z Gorres (No. 23), and featherweight Jimrex Jaca (No. 25).
Among those ranked outside of top 10 with improvement are: former WBC International minimumweight ruler Arman dela Cruz took up nine places to No. 25. Former OPBF lightweight champ Dennis Laurente and mini-fly Federico Catubay moved up a notch each to No. 25 and No. 38, respectively.
Light fly Rodel Quilaton climbed a place at No. 32 while current WBO Asia Pacific bantam boss Rey Bautista dropped a place to No. 11.
Other Pinoys in WBC ratings are: Bert Batawang (32), Wendell Janiola (33), Rollen Castillo (36), Eric Barcelona (23), Benjie Sorolla (32), Jun Arlos (29), at Elmer Gejon (34).