Whilst we, like everyone, loves a great war, a proper tear up with bombs from both men who are managing to punish each other in a great tale of toughness, heart, determination and resilience. They aren't the only types of great bouts though, and we also love a good, exciting, chess match, with great skills and a very high level of tension. A bout that is being fought with both men knowing they could seriously hurt the other with just a single shot. Today we have one of those bouts as we again bring you a Closet Classic!
Hozumi Hasegawa (29-3, 12) Vs Jhonny Gonzalez (47-7, 41)
Between 2005 and 2010 Japan's Hozumi Hasegawa had become one of the countries major boxing stars. He had made 10 defenses of the WBC Bantamweight title, been a multi-time Japanese MVP and was one of the most popular Japanese fighters out there. Sadly his reign came to an end in 2010, when he was upset by Fernando Montiel, but that wasn't the end for Hasegawa who moved up in weight, going from Bantamweight to Featherweight. The move up was a successful one and Hasegawa would win the WBC Featherweight title just 7 months later, when he out pointed the previously unbeaten Juan Carlos Burgos to become a 2-weight world champion.
Although Hasegawa's record suggested he wasn't a puncher his performances showed other wise. He had 12 stoppages in his 32 bouts up to this point, but 7 of those had come in his previous 11 wins and he was proving to be a destructive fighter. He had vicious power in his left hand, and lightning speed, with his combinations being something gorgeous to watch.
In his first defense of the WBC Featherweight title Hasegawa was taking on huge punching Mexican Jhonny Gonzalez.
Gonzalez, like Hasegawa, had originally made his name at Bantamweight, where he won the WBO title. He had held that title from 2005 to 2007 and had made 2 defenses. He was now looking to become a 2-weight champion himself and follow in the footsteps of Montiel, in travelling to Japan to beat Hasegawa. Prior to this bout his career was a bit up and down. He had struggled early on, suffer 2 very early career losses and going 14-4 before winning WBO Bantamweight in 2005, when he stopped Ratanachai Sor Vorapin in what was his 35th bout. Following his title win he had gone 16-3 with stoppage losses to Israel Vazquez, Gerry Penalosa and Toshiaki Nishiok, in what were his 3 most recent world title bouts before facing Hasegawa.
Although he was one of the most naturally heavy handed fighter in recent years Gonzalez was also considered to be a fighter who couldn't really take it. His chin had let him down in 3 of his 7 losses, and he was getting a reputation as being a bit of a glass cannon at world level. He was the sort of fighter who made for unpredictable action. He could take anyone out, but be taken out himself. Despite his power he fight like a puncher, instead he was very much a boxer, who just had freakish power.
The one thing that needs to be very clear is that both of these men had world class power and both men knew the other could hurt them. That immediately saw us go into the bout with a sense of tension, and a feeling like the bout could end at any minute.
From the opening round this was tense, both men were looking to use their lead hand to open up their powerful straights. The action, during the first round, was limited, but this was tense, high speed chess with both men looking to draw a mistake and counter. Both knew a single mistake could see them punished, but both knew their power was likely enough to take out the other. This was brilliant boxing, real high level stuff and engaging from the opening bell.
With neither man managing to take the other out in the opening round we saw more of the same in round 2. This time around Hasegawa put his foot on the gas a little bit more earlier on, before the two men got back to what we had seen in the opening round. This was again high level chess, both men laying traps, but neither getting enough of a bite to really strike. Then tension was growing, and although neither man had landed a fight ending shot, but had gotten through with a few solid shots.
We'll leave the bout here for you to enjoy without spoiling any more of it, but it is an excellent boxing contest, even if it never comes close to becoming a war. This is high level boxing, tension, exciting, enthralling, and an often forgotten modern day classic.
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