After weeks of trying to come up with a regular Saturday feature we've finally got one thanks to our good friend Derek Bonnett, from Seconds Out, who's regular posts on facebook lead to things clicking. Whilst we know Derek wasn't the first to come up with the idea, it's been his regular posting of them that has really flicked a switch and lead us to begin this new series.
To begin with we must admit we're not 100% sure which we this will end up going and what will take priority. The original idea was going to be "The 5 best wins for..." though our realisation was that the "best" didn't always mean significant, and in the end it can be a frustrating task to summarise what is really "better" than something else. As a result we've decided to mix the two pretty interchangeably to begin with. This may change in the future, but for now we're going with a hybrid of "best", "significant", "meaningful" and "impressive".
To kick things off with we're going to look at former 3-weight Japanese world champion Hozumi Hasegawa (36-5, 16). The "Ace of Japan debuted in 1999 and fought for the final time in 2016. During his long he won the WBC Bantamweight, WBC Featherweight and WBC Super Bantamweight title whilst becoming a genuine star in his homeland and one of the most widely respected fighters out there.
Of course we all know who Hasegawa is, but what were his Top 5 wins?
5-Jess Maca (May 18th 2003)
The first win we'd like to talk about when it comes to Hasegawa is his 2003 win over Filipino veteran Jess Maca for the OPBF title. This isn't a win that got much attention in the west but showed that the 22 year old Hasegawa was a real one to watch. Coming in to the bout Maca had developed a reputation as a "Japanese killer" winning against a string of Japanese fighters, including Setsuo Segawa, Shigeru Nakazato, Shin Yamata and Katsushige Kawashima, whilst running up 7 defenses of the OPBF Bantamweight title. Hasegawa managed to end Maca's run with an excellent performance, taking a narrow split decision over the Filipino. This was Hasegawa's first title win, and put him on the road to the top.
4-Veeraphol Sahaprom (April 16th 2005) - Fight I
After making 3 defenses of the OPBF title Hasegawa got his first world title fight, taking on Thai great Veeraphol Sahaprom, for the WBC Bantamweight title.The Thai boasted a 46-1-2 (31) professional record, with his only loss coming Nana Yaw Konadu way back in 1996, a loss that had been followed by a 44 fight unbeaten run including 14 defenses of the WBC Bantamweighr title. Like Maca we'd seen Sahaprom prove to be a thorn in the side of Japanese boxing, with 2 wins against the legendary Joichiro Tatsuyoshi, a 2-0-2 series with Toshiaki Nishioka. Hasegawa would go on to take a close and competitive decision over Sahaprom, ending the Thai's lengthy world title reign.
3-Vusi Malinga (March 12th 2009)
It was somewhat hard to place Hasegawa's two wins over notable South African fighters. The first of those came in 2007, when he took a decision win over Simpiwe Vetyeka, and the other came less than 2 years later when he beat Vusi Malinga. The bout with Vetyeka is one that certainly aged very well, though in reality was a hard to watch bout between two talented 26 year old's who pretty much cancelled each other out. Against Malinga however Hasegawa impressed, blitzing the tough Southpaw inside a round, giving him his only stoppage loss. This was arguably the most impressive destruction job Hasegawa ever managed and showed that the Ace could punch much harder than his record suggested. In just 157 seconds Hasegawa took out a legitimately tough guy. This wasn't the most notable win, but was one of the most impressive.
2-Hugo Ruiz (September 16th 2016)
At the age of 35 Hasegawa was seen as a man coming to the end of his career, and his 2016 bout with Hugo Ruiz was expected to one final roll of the dice in his attempt to become a 3-weight world champion. Almost 30 months earlier he had been broken down by the then IBF champion Kiko Martinez and just 9 before facing Ruiz he had been dropped twice by Carlos Ruiz. He looked done. Ruiz on the other hand was a was a huge Super Bantamweight, who had real power, was 29 years old and had avenged a stoppage loss to Julio Ceja. Ruiz's only other losses were a 2007 loss to and a very close decision loss in Japan to Koki Kameda. Despite being beyond his best Hasegawa put up a great performance and forced Ruiz to retire in his corner after 9 rounds. At the time of the stoppage Hasegawa was in a very narrow lead, and in fact one judge had him down, but finally he'd done it. Almost 6 years removed from his last world level win, he had become a 3 weight champion.
1-Veeraphol Sahaprom (March 25th 2006) - Fight II
Whilst Hasegawa's first win over Veeraphol Sahaprom, in 2005 was an excellent performance to win the WBC Bantamweight title we'd actually go with the rematch, just 11 months later, as a better win. For Hasegawa this was his second defense, following a rather easy win over Gerardo Martinez. For Veeraphol however the bout was a chance to avenge his loss, reclaim the title and scoring a 6th straight win. This time around Hasegawa took the result out of the judges hands and seemed to toy with Sahaprom at times before landing a brutal right hand early in round 9 to take out the Thai with 1 shot. This was only the second time the Thai had been stopped, and despite the fact he was 37 the finish here, and the pressure to perform at the highest level earned this bout the #1 place.
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).