By Cliff Rold
The English speaking world rarely gets much of a look at Boxing’s smallest weight class. They don’t miss it much either. Still living under the long shadow of the venerable Ricardo Lopez, Strawweight plucked along for another year as what it is: a division defined by regions more than contests. There was no unification and there probably won’t be soon. There were two big farewells.
As noted in an excellent piece by MaxBoxing’s Marty Mulcahey last week, the sport has bid farewell to longtime 105 lb. stalwarts Eagle Kyowa and Yutaka Niida, long reigning titlists who also put in their fair share of quality rounds. Taking their place are fresh new faces like Raul Garcia and the man who stands alone as the division’s best fighter of the year, sending Niida into the next phase of his life.
Strawweight Fighter of the Year: Roman Gonzalez
Gonzalez’s September 15th against Niida can be summed up in one word: devastating. Were he just twenty pounds heavier, it would be the sort of buzz generating performance seen at Jr. Featherweight this year for Juan Manuel Lopez. It wasn’t and he won’t get that sort of love; at least not right away. However, only 21 years old and with rock hands producing 20 knockouts in 22 starts, he’ll have his chances. Hailing from Nicaragua, Gonzalez did more than capture a WBA belt; he ended the longest reign in the division and, with Joe Calzaghe having vacated at Super Middleweight earlier in the year, the longest active reign of any beltholder in the sport.
Can he capitalize? He’ll certainly make more with a belted waist and, given ties to the WBA, his chances to make money in an Asian market more lucrative for diminutive warriors will be there. Hailing from Nicaragua, a Latin showdown with the Mexican Garcia would be welcome, warring, and probably a pipe dream. But it’s probably a dream worth having…after all, where were Lopez and Alvarez from again?
Strawweight Fight of the Year: Raul Garcia-Florante Condes
The highlight reel for the 105 lb. class is rarely the best of the year, but the division has produced its share of classics. Lopez-Rosendo Alvarez II, Miguel Barrera-Roberto Leyva II and Eagle Kyowa-Rodel Mayol fall into the category. While 2008 didn’t quite produce a war to stand the test of time with those, Garcia’s upset of Condes added its own degree of spice to the burgeoning Mexico-Philippines rivalry in the sports lower weight classes. As reported at: https://www.boxingscene.com/?m=show&id=14474
Despite dropping undefeated Raul “Rayito” Garcia in the final round with a hard right, Florante Condes lost his International Boxing Federation minimum weight title by a unanimous decision to the Mexican who was fighting before his hometown fans in Laz Paz.
While two of the three judges scored the fight for Garcia by identical scores of 115-112, the third judge had Garcia the winner by a ridiculous 118-110 score . The three judges appointed by the IBF were Adelaide Byrd of Nevada, Abraham Pacheco of Hawaii and Alejandro Lopez of Mexico.
However, as of this hour Viva Sports hasn’t been able to contact the Condes party despite several overseas calls to their hotel rooms to find out what really happened in the fight.
As far as we gather the knockdown scored by Condes in the final round was too little too late as the southpaw Garcia had piled up points by fighting smart and staying away from the vicious shots of the Filipino southpaw who is nick-named “The Little Pacquiao.”
Highlights of the fight posted on You Tube showed Condes often on the ropes inviting Garcia to throw punches with the hope of catching him with a strong counter. It worked on a few occasions when Condes landed some hard shots in round seven and appeared to stun Garcia with a solid right in the ninth but once again got caught on the ropes allowing the Mexican southpaw to unload a flurry of punches which didn’t hurt Condes but scored points for Garcia.
With the crowd chanting his name Garcia, who moved well and threw some well-timed shots from a distance finished with a flourish. Knowing he was behind on points Condes rushed out of his corner in the final round and dropped Garcia with a cracking right but the undefeated Mexican came back quickly and engaged Condes until the end of the round when both fighters embraced.
Garcia who prepared for the title shot under the watchful eye of trainer Leo Camacho had said weeks before the title fight confidently predicted “I will conquer” even as he said “I’m going to fight smart. .I will fight with all the boxing skills and power.”
Although the Mexican said the punching power of Condes didn’t scare him, he did get dropped by a right once again demonstrating the power of Condes.
While trainer Danny Bactol worked on Condes’ footwork and speed in training it seems the almost one year lapse after he won the title via a unanimous twelve round decision in a tough battle against Indonesia’s Muhammad Rachman left the soft-spoken Condes ring rusty which told in the end against a boxer like Garcia.
Strawweight: The Year in Results
Since last January, BoxingScene has produced quarterly ratings for each of Boxing’s seventeen weight classes. Ratings for the first quarter of 2009 should be available at the New Year; for now, here’s a look back at the critical Strawweight results of 2008.
01/05: #9 Katsunari Takayama (20-3, 8 KO) TKO9 Ngaoprajan Sithsaithong (5-6, 5 KO)
01/14: #8 Roman Gonzalez UD10 Hiroshi Matsumoto (17-8-4, 4 KO)
02/14: #10 Pornsawan Kratingdaenggym (21-1, 16 KO) TKO5 Richard Garcia (14-10, 3 KO)
03/01: #3 Yutaka Niida (23-1-3, 9 KO, WBA) KO6 Jose Luis Varela (15-3, 7 KO)
04/28: #8 Katsunari Takayama (21-3, 9 KO) KO9 Mating Kilakil (1-1-1)
06/14: Raul Garcia (23-0-1, 15 KO, IBF) SD12 #2 Florante Condes (22-4-1, 20 KO)
06/18: #3 Oleydong Sithsamerchai (27-0, 11 KO, WBC) KO9 Junichi Ebisuoka (17-11-3, 7 KO)
06/27: #10 Nkosianthi Joyi (18-0, 14 KO) TKO7 Sammy Gutierrez (20-3-2, 12 KO)
08/30: #4 Donnie Nietes (23-1-3, 14 KO, WBO) KO 2 Eddy Castro (12-4-1, 9 KO)
09/13: #2 Raul Garcia (24-0-1, 15 KO, IBF) UD12 Jose Luis Varela (15-5, 7 KO)
09/15: #9 Roman Gonzalez (20-0, 18 KO, WBA) TKO4 #1 Yutaka Niida (23-2, 9 KO)
09/27: #10 Yasutaka Kuroki (19-3, 14 KO) KO3 Intanon Sithsoei (0-1)
11/27: #2 Oleydong Sithsamerchai (29-0, 12 KO, WBC) UD12 #10 Pornsawan Kratingaenggym (21-2, 16 KO)
12/13: #3 Raul Garcia (25-0, 15 KO, IBF) UD12 Jose Luis Varela (15-6, 7 KO)
Other divisions in 2008 reviewed:
Super Middleweight: https://www.boxingscene.com/?m=show&id=17595
Jr. Featherweight: https://www.boxingscene.com/?m=show&id=17610
Jr. Bantamweight: https://www.boxingscene.com/?m=show&id=17572
Jr. Flyweight: https://www.boxingscene.com/index.php?m=show&id=17514
Check in tomorrow for more of BoxingScene’s 2008 Year in Review.
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org