Although we are, at heart, boxing fans we tend to use this weekly series as a chance to share wars as opposed to boxing contests. Closet Classics tend to be exciting, under-viewed wars. Thrilling action fights. Slugfests. One thing we often don't discuss, and share, are the closet classics which are high speed chess, bouts with a sense of tension and excitement. Bouts that you know could end at any moment. These bouts are some of the best, some of the most exciting and the ones that deserve to have you at the edge of your seat. Today we get to share one of those from 2010!
Hozumi Hasegawa (28-2, 12) Vs Fernando Montiel (41-2-2, 31)
The bout in question is a boxing oddity but it shows the level we're talking about. In one corner was Hozumi Hasegawa, a man who had made 10 defences of the WBC Bantamweight title whilst the other corner played host to WBO champion Fernando Montiel, who was looking to make his first defense of the title.
Despite both men being champions the bout wasn't exactly a unification bout. At the time the JBC (Japan Boxing Commission) didn't recognise either the WBO or the IBF. This meant that if Hasegawa won he wasn't able to hold the WBO title, though he would remain the WBC champion and would be regarded, by many, as the best man in division. If Montiel won he would become a unified champion.
For those who had seen the fighters involved the excitement was really high.
Hasegawa was a risk taking fighter who threw combinations in bunches, was lighting quick and despite only having 12 stoppage in 30 bouts was proving himself as a surprisingly heavy handed fighter. His last 5 bouts had all ended in stoppage, lasting a combined 10 rounds, and he was blitzing people with exciting combinations. He was very much a boxer-swarmer, who let shots fly when he hurt his opponents, which he often did with his southpaw straight left.
Montiel on the other hand was a hard hitting Mexican boxer-puncher. Prior to winning the WBO Bantamweight title he had previously held the WBO Flyweight and Super Flyweight titles and was very much regarded as a top level talent. His record up to this point had been excellent and his competition had been strong, for the most part, allowing him to build a reputation as a brilliant fighter. Although he had two losses both were pretty close decision defeats, one to Mark Johnson and one to Jhonny Gonzalez.
The bout had a genuine big fight feel going in with Jimmy Lennon Jr being the ring announcer, giving the event a further air of class.
The bout really was a chess match from the off. It was a battle of jabs to begin with, with Hasegawa winning that battle and taking centre ring quickly. Although forced on to the outside Montiel looked relaxed and like a man who had been here and seen this before. We then got some brilliant boxing and both men looked to find openings. Not a lot connected in the first minute, but both fighters did get through with one or two. Then the pace started to turn up just slightly. With the pace increasing it was Hasegawa who was having the more notable success, getting his left hand into play. Montiel however wasn't there to make up the numbers and late in the first round he showed he was there himself with a good right hand. The rounded ended with Hasegawa looking like the man in control.
The tension rose in round 2 with both men now knowing a little bit more about each other. Despite the increase in tension Hasegawa continued to have the more consistent and noteworthy success. Every time he landed the crowd roared him on, getting behind the Japanese hero. Montiel however was scouting his man, trying to get his right hand into play and draw a mistake from Hasegawa, who had a history of committing hard to combinations. This was high stakes, high speed chess, with both men knowing full well that the other had serious power.
We won't ruin the bout any further, but if you've never seen this you need to see it! This was brilliant boxing, it was exciting, and it proved that technical bouts really don't need to be dull. This was technical but exciting, tense but thrilling, dramatic yet respectful.
Two world class fighters putting it on the line in a great fight. What more could we ever ask for?
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features