September 21, 2020

Pacquiao, Raquinel, Zulueta, Magsayo and More. A Look at Filipino Boxers in WBA World Rankings

By Carlos Costa

The king of Filipino boxing, Manny Pacquiao, headlines the list of Pinoy boxers who made it in this month’s WBA world rankings, all expected back in action as soon as the world comes back to normal from the ongoing pandemic, hopefully soon.

Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KO’s), the idol and inspiration of millions, appears as the WBA Welterweight “Super Champion,” after his split decision win over American Keith Thurman (29-1, 22 KO’s) in July of last year in Las Vegas, Nevada.  

In that fight, the always thrilling Pacquiao knocked down Thurman in the very first chapter, and went on to dominate the 10-year-younger “One Time” for the remaining of the clash.  

That was the Pacman’s latest ring appearance, and his fans want him back again… sometime.

Provided that the ongoing situation with COVID-19 gets under control, the much beloved fighting Senator might see action in July or August, probably against Mexican-American Mikey Garcia (40-1, 30 KO’s) or against tough experienced Puerto Rican-American Danny “Swift” Garcia (36-2, 21 KO’s).  

Any of the two Garcias   —  both 32-year-old talented former world champions  —  would be interesting opponents for Pacquiao; though never as interesting as Terence Crawford (36-0, 27 KO’s), Errol Spence (26-0, 21) or Floyd Mayweather (50-0, 27 KO’s) would be.  

Idol of Millions Manny Pacquiao on the Attack

Anyways, the Pacman’s coming fight against whoever he chooses to fight will very likely be again in Sin City Las Vegas, the Casino Capital of the World where the Immensely popular Manny Pacquiao is always a more-than-welcomed superstar.


In addition to the Pacman, seven promising Filipino fighters are included in the current WBA world rankings, all with possibilities to one day get a shot at the world title:


In the flyweight division, the WBA has added 23-year-old Negros Occidental warrior Jay-r Raquinel (12-1-1, 9 KO’s) as their # 14 contender. 

Good addition.  Because since 2018, Raquinel has scored three exciting knockout wins in The Land of the Rising Sun, Japan, plus another stoppage victory last November in Dubai.   

Also ranked in WBA flyweights is “The Doberman” Dave Apolinario (13-0, 8 KO’s) of Sarangani as # 10. 

The WBA world champions in this 112-pound weight-class are unbeaten world crown-holder Artem Dalakian (20-0, 14 KO’s) of Ukraine and WBA interim champion veteran slugger Luis “Nica” Concepcion (39-8, 28 KO’s) of Panama.


In the 108-pound division, Negros Occidental speedster John Michael Zulueta (11-0-2, 4 KO’s) stays ranked as # 14.

Here the WBA light flyweight “super champion” is Japanese Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9 KO’s) and the WBA “regular” champ is undefeated knockout artist Carlos Cañizales (22-0-1, 17 KO’s) of Venezuela. 

Would Zulueta be picked to challenge any of them?  He’d say YES..!!


In Minimumweights, Filipino former WBO world champ “Vicious” Vic Saludar (20-4, 11 KO’s) of Polomolok, Cotabato del Sur, is WBA’s # 7.  

The WBA Super Champion in this 105-pound division is Thailand’s unbeaten “Knockout CP Freshmart” Thammanoon Niyomtrong (21-0, 7 KO’s), who defended his title a few weeks ago with a win by points, looking for his coming opponent.


Unbeaten Filipino “Hurricane” Jade Bornea (15-0, 10 KO’s), born in Arakan, Cotabato del Norte is WBA’s # 14 super flyweight. 

The “regular” world champions in this 115-lbs weight class is the undefeated Australian “Monster” Andrew Moloney (21-0, 14 KO’s). 

But behold:  the WBA Super Champion in this weight is none other than popular 4-division world champion Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (49-2, 41 KO’s) of Nicaragua.

The 32-year-old “Chocolatito” (Little Chocolate) conquered his super world title six weeks ago in Texas, his fans wondering who will he fight next?


Bantamweights (118-pounds) is really a hot division with thrilling stars as Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26 KO’s) and others.  

Here, the WBA # 1 ranked is Filipino former WBA interim titlist Reymart Gaballo (23-0, 20 KO’s) of Polomolok, Cotabato del Sur.   

Fans want Gaballo in a meaningful fight where he can explode his hands over some tough opponent with a name.

The WBA “Super Champion” in bantams is the always fantastically thrilling Japanese “Monster” Naoya Inoue.   

As soon as covid-19 is no longer a threat, Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16 KO’s) will unify bantamweight crowns against Ormocano multi-division world champion Johnriel Casimero (29-4, 20 KO’s) in Las Vegas, Nevada, a fight that no boxing fan want to miss.  

Because it will be a battle of two highly skilled fighters in peak form for the WBA, IBF and WBO Belts.  

Inoue comes from a superb performance in his awesome showdown against the “Filipino Flash” Nonito Donaire last November in Saitama, Japan.  Both Nonito and Naoya battled magnificently, wining the “Fight of the Year Award.” 

It was a war worth of a “Super Championship,” and it really was.

In contrast, the WBA bantamweight “regular” title belongs to the always boring Guillermo Rigondeaux (20-1, 13 KO’s) of Cuba.    In his last fight, Rigondeaux scored a close split decision over former titlist Liborio Solis of Venezuela.


As of today, Filipino “Magic” Mike Plania (23-1, 12 KO’s) of Gensan is WBA’s Super Bantamweight # 10 contender.

The WBA has three super bantamweight titlist.  (I know… a lot of belts for one weight class, but that’s the way modern boxing operates):

WBA “Super Champion” Murodjon Akhmadaliev (8-0, 6 KO’s)  of Uzbekistan, WBA “regular” champ Mexican-American Brandon Figueroa (20-0-1, 15 KO’s), and WBA “Gold” titlist Ronny Rios (32-3, 16 KO’s) of Golden Boy Promotions.

Mike Plania’s fans from all over Mindanao and the Philippines would love to see The Magic Man challenging any of the above three champs for him to display the class that he is made of.   Will that ever happen?    Fans just keep their fingers crossed.

This super bantamweight division is the weight class where one of my favorite all-time fighters used to reign many years ago:  Puerto Rican Hall-of-Famer Wilfredo Gomez (44-3-1, 42 KO’s). 

I used to go with my father to watch Wilfredo Gomez in his fights in Panama some forty years ago (omg, I am really old), and Gomez was really something else, truly amazing.


Finally, Featherweights.  126 pounds or 57.15 Kilos.   Undefeated Pinoy boxer “Magnifico” Mark Magsayo (20-0, 14 KO’s) is WBA # 11.   

The 24-year-old Leyteño signed a promotional contract with Manny Pacquiao’s MP Promotions just a few weeks ago, a wise career move that would assure him exposure and important fights.   

Before inking with MP Promotions, “El Magnifico” used to fight for a promotional outfit in Malaysia.  Prior to that, he was with ALA Boxing.

The WBA Featherweight “Regular” champ is the Chinese “Monster” Can Xu (18-2, 3 KO’s) of M23 Max Power Promotions.   

Once the current pandemic gets stopped and knocked out… and our world comes back to normal, Can Xu will mot likely clash in a unification battle against unbeaten Briton IBF Featherweight Champ “The Leeds Warrior” Josh Warrington (30-0, 7 KO’s) in England.  

Tough match for the tall 26-year-old Chinese, his chance to display his skills and class.

But WBA Featherweights has a super champion.

The WBA “Super Champion” at 126 is Mexican Leo “Terremoto” Santa Cruz (37-1-1, 19 KO’s), who is also WBA “Super Champion” at 130 at the same time, which is something not really common.

Will Santa Cruz relinquish his featherweight belt, leaving the 126 lbs, wanting to stay steady at 130?   That is very possible.  

Magsayo (L) Would One Day Challenge Santa Cruz for a World Title?

But if he stays at Featherweights, then how about this one:  Mark Magsayo vs Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA Featherweight Super World Title?    That would be great IF (big if), if the 3-division world champion Santa Cruz stays at Featherweight.  

For some fans, Santa Cruz vs Magsayo could be a exciting battle, if it ever happens.  

Because Magsayo can fight well.   He can also land hard, and he is the fresher warrior.    In contrast, the slightly taller Mexican is FAR (big far), far more experienced than the Filipino.  

Santa Cruz is very used to tough wars, but tough wars sooner or later take a toll on any boxer.  

In addition, Santa Cruz is very popular in the US West Coast, not to mention that the tested Mexican has absolutely proven that he can shock and rock with his blows.   Fans call him “Terremoto” (Earthquake) for a reason.  

Santa Cruz vs Magsayo, would be an intriguing fight, if it ever unfolds.

The author Carlos Costa of Panama is a veteran boxing reporter living in Cebu, Philippines.   Carlos can be reached at and whatsapp:  +639184538152.