Who is the best light flyweight boxer in the world?

Fans of the smaller weight divisions were treated to what was arguably the Upset of the Year when Adrian Curiel scored a brutal and sensational second-round knockout over the previously unbeaten Sivenathi Nontshinga at the weekend.

Curiel (24-4-1, 5 KOs) picked up the IBF light flyweight title and announced himself among the division elite. The sky’s the limit for the Mexican star who will now be in the sights of unified titleholder Kenshiro Teraji, who hopes to become boxing’s first-ever undisputed champion at this weight.

What’s changed at light flyweight following the colossal upset?

The Sporting News recently gathered opinions from members of its combat team to produce a top 12 list at light flyweight:

MORE: Kenshiro Teraji and the road to undisputed

This Filipino-based fighter is still to mix with distinguished opposition, but he’s unbeaten over the past five years and his career is heading in the right direction.

Magramo has prevailed in a trio of WBO domestic title fights over the past three years and he’s due another step up in class. Once he takes that step, we’ll be in a better position to predict his ceiling in this division.

Next Fight: TBA

Blink and you might miss this hard-hitting 23-year-old from the Philippines.

Five of Fajardo’s 10 knockout wins have come in the first round and he’s only seen the sixth round four times in his career. He lost his third professional fight, and a couple of draws suggest that his technical craft can’t match his concussive hitting power. However, Fajardo is an authentic knockout artist and an exciting addition to the division.

Next Fight: TBA

MORE: SN’s Top-12 list of pound-for-pound boxers

Another Filipino fighter, Suganob quickly brushed aside the learning curve fights and has been holding his own at the top level.

Despite losing his unbeaten record to talented IBF champ Sivenathi Nontshinga, the 26-year-old Suganob has shown promise. He earned his world title shot by winning back-to-back fights over unbeaten opponents in Andika D’Golden Boy and Mark Vicelles.

He recently bounced back from the Nontshinga setback by outpointing Ronald Chacon.

Next Fight: TBA

It’s almost a tradition for Japanese fighters to hold lofty spots in the lower weight classes and the 2023 light flyweight division is no exception.

Iwata’s lone defeat came at the hands of reigning WBO champion Jonathan Gonzalez. The 27-year-old pressure-puncher performed well in that fight and ultimately succumbed to the champion’s class and experience. Undeterred, Iwata has bounced back with a pair of stoppage wins and he’ll be looking for big fights.

Next Fight: TBA

Prior to suffering his first loss to Carlos Canizales, the only blemishes on Matellon’s record were a pair of back-to-back draws in 2016 and 2017.

The Cuban boxer-puncher was competitive in spots against Canizales but he was deducted two points for headbutts and lost a technical decision when the fight was stopped. Losing this WBA eliminator blunted the 35-year-old’s momentum and he doesn’t have time on his side for a slow and deliberate rebuild.

Next Fight: TBA

Venezuela’s Canizales is a former WBA regular champion and he’s still in the world title picture right now.

A 2021 stoppage loss to Esteban Bermudez in a fight Canizales was winning cut deep. However, the 30-year-old has bounced back with four straight wins, including a stoppage triumph over Ganigan Lopez and a technician decision over Daniel Matellon.

Next fight: TBA

MORE: SN’s Top-5 pound-for-pound boxers from Japan

The former WBO champ has posted solid results down the years, although he badly needs a standout win to prove his world-level status.

Soto surrendered his WBO title to Jonathan Gonzalez in 2021 and was then outpointed by ring-wise veteran Hekkie Budler in a close fight. In need of a warm-up bout, the Mexican star faced countryman Brian Mosinos last time out and was considered beyond lucky to receive a split decision victory.

Next Fight: TBA

While Yabuki became something of a Cinderella story thanks to his stunning 2021 upset triumph over Kenshiro Teraji, the Japanese puncher can definitely fight.

Teraji blasted him out in their rematch, but Yabuki has bounced back with stoppage wins over Thanongsak Simsri and Ronald Chacon. With a 93-percent knockout ratio, the ex-champ is a threat to any light flyweight he shares the ring with. If he can keep winning, then another world title shot is sure to come his way.

Next Fight: TBA

Top 12 best light flyweights in boxing: Rankings for 108lb weight class starring Teraji, Gonzalez, Curiel

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