Boxing's youngest world champions, including Wilfred Benitez and Pipino Cuevas

Highly talented Jesse Rodriguez became world champion in February by overcoming Carlos Cuadras for the WBC super flyweight title.

The southpaw, who outpointed his opponent to win the vacant belt, is the first fighter to win world honours having been born in 2000. At 22, he is also the youngest active world champion in boxing today.

Records are there to be broken but when it comes to the youngest champion in boxing history, Rodriguez is nowhere near Wilfred Benitez - who was on top of the world at the age of 17.

Benitez won world titles in three weight classes and is most known for his fights against Roberto DuranSugar Ray Leonard and Tommy Hearns.

However, the New York-born Puerto Rican isn't the only wonderkid to have burst onto the scene and below, we take a look at the youngest fighters to have reached the pinnacle.

Wilfred Benitez, junior welterweight 

Age: 17 years, five months and 24 days

The incredible Puerto Rican star turned professional at 15 and would win the WBA world title at 140lbs against future Hall of Famer Antonio Cervantes via split-decision.

Benitez - who won the title in his 25th fight as a professional - went on to win world honours at welterweight and junior middleweight but as crazy as this sounds, he was past his peak by the time he hit his mid-20s. He retired with a record of 53-8-1.

Sadly since retiring, Benitez suffered an incurable, degenerative brain condition from punches that he took inside the ring.

Cesar Polanco, junior bantamweight

Age: 18 years, two months and 18 days

The Dominican Republic-born fighter snatched the IBF junior bantamweight title away from Elly Pical in a 15-round split decision.

However, Polanco's reign was ended three months later in a rematch against Pical in May 1986 and for the remainder of his career, he fought at a much lower level before retiring at the age of 26.

Ratanapol Sor Vorapin, strawweight 

Age: 18 years, six months and five days

In December 1992, Thailand's teenager won the IBF strawweight title by overcoming Manny Melchor.

He would go on to make 12 successive defences of his title before being forced to vacate it after being unable to make the weight limit on the scales.

A few months later, Vorapin became a two-time champion, winning the IBF belt again and made a further six defences.

Pipino Cuevas, welterweight 

Age: 18 years, six months and 21 days

Normally a world champion hits the ground running from the start but this wasn't the case for Cuevas who had a record of 15-6.

However, he overcame Angel Estrada in July 1976, stopping him inside two rounds to become WBA welterweight champion.

The Mexican made 11 successful defences before Tommy Hearns beat him inside two rounds. He would never challenge for world honours again, losing six of his next 10 bouts.

Hiroki Ioka, strawweight 

Age: 18 years, nine months and 11 days

Ioka delivered in front of his hometown in Osaka, outpointing Mai Thomburifarm to win the vacant WBC strap.

Two wins followed but he then surrendered his belt to Napa Kiatwanchai. Ioka moved up to junior flyweight and upset long-reigning Myung Woo Yuh to become WBA titleholder in 1991 but lost the rematch.

Ioka had another four opportunities to win world gold but lost all of them.

Tony Canzoneri, featherweight 

Age: 18 years, 11 months and 19 days

Canzoneri remains the youngest American world champion. In 1927, he defeated Johnny Dundee to win the vacant NYSAC title via unanimous decision - his third attempt at winning a world championship.

He went on to win belts at lightweight and junior welterweight and entered the Hall of Fame for his boxing achievements.

Netrnoi Sor Vorasingh, junior flyweight

Age: 19 years and 15 days

The southpaw Thai bounced back from a failed world title pursuit in 1977 by beating WBC titleholder Freddy Castillo 12 months later.

He went on to make a sole defence before missing out on another world title win against Hilario Zapata in 1981.

Sor Vorasingh passed away at the age of 23 from a motorcycle accident.

Morris East, junior welterweight 

Age: 19 years, one month and two days

East challenged Akinobu Hiranaka for the WBA title and it looked as if he would lose with all three scorecards in favour of his opponent going into the penultimate round.

However, East pulled it out of the bag and earned Ring Magazine's Knockout of the Year award in 1992.

The Filipino relinquished the belt in his next fight to Juan Coggi and would never return to world level, retiring at the age of 21.

Marvin Sonsona, junior bantamweight 

Age: 19 years, one month and 11 days

Sonsona stopped Jose Lopez in the fourth round during a unanimous decision win in September 2009.

Poor preparation saw him forfeit his title on the scales and then in 2010, came up short to Wilfredo Vazquez Jr in four rounds.

He continued his career but never got in world title contention again. He did, however, avenge his defeat to Vazquez in 2014 via split decision. Sonsona most recently fought at welterweight in May 2018 but is expected to make his comeback to the ring in March.

Al McCoy, middleweight

Age: 19 years, five months and 16 days

The New Jersey-born fighter knocked out George Chip in the opening round to become middleweight champion in April 1914.

His three-year reign as middleweight king ended in 1917 when Mike O'Dowd won in November 1917. McCoy carried on fighting for another seven years but never won another title.

Read more: Boxing schedule for 2022 - Every major fight night, date and venue

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