With no fights currently taking place, and we don't need to explain why, we've decided to begin a new series looking at fights that could have been. These are match ups that may, or may not, have been mooted but are fights that could have happened. Not only do we intend to look at who the men involved were, but when the bout could have been made, why we would have liked it, how we feel the bout played out and how history played out instead.
Chris John Vs Hozumi Hasegawa
We began this series with an all out war, and this week we go in a very different direction for what could have been a genuine show case of incredible boxing skills, speed, ring IQ and pure ring craft. It's a match up between two men who knew how to box, were surprisingly aggressive and would have made the bout look like high speed chess of the highest order. For a purest this would have been something special, and it would have been exciting enough to have made even the most blood thirsty enjoy it. This would be a Featherweight showdown for the ages between Indonesian great Chris John and Japanese Ace Hozumi Hasegawa.
The window for this bout isn't mega huge, like it would be for some bouts, but there was a clear overlap in 2010 and 2011 when the two could have clashed in a unification bout. At the time John was enjoying a lengthy reign as the WBA "super" champion whilst Hasegawa was the WBC champion. Alternatively the bout could have taken place a little bit later with just the WBA "super" title of John's on the line.
Ideally however this would have taken place in April 2011, when Hasegawa instead took on Jhonny Gonzalez, and was stopped. Had we seen this instead we would have had a unified WBA/WBC champion, as well as a special, special bout.
Chris John is the greatest boxer in Indonesian boxing history. He was a very long reigning WBA champion at Featherweight, and had his title upgraded from interim, to regular to super. His reign is much maligned for not facing the biggest names the division had, but unlike anyone else at the time he was proving a willing road warrior and was taking some solid scalps along the way. During his long reign he fought in Indonesia, Singapore, Australia, Japan and the US. Whilst he lacked massive amounts of power John made boxing look natural and easy. He moved around the ring with excellent balance, had an excellent boxing brain, could adapt and had solid hand speed. He lacked in the physical aspects of the sport, but more than made up for it in the technical areas.
Hozumi Hasegawa was similar in some ways to John. He wasn't a power puncher, but he was quick, razor sharp puncher, with an excellent boxing brain, a willingness to brawl when he needed to and was a southpaw to boot. His weakness was his chin, but even that was rarely exposed and was often covered by his excellent will to win and tenacity. Although not a big puncher he did hurt fighters when he landed clean, and was a great example of the old adage "speed kills". This was seen against the tough Vusi Malinga and his KO of Veeraphol Sahaprom was something special. Featherweight wasn't his best weight, that was Bantamweight, and his time at 126lbs was was relatively short, but an excellent win over Juan Carlos Burgos showed he could have success there.
How would we see it playing out?
Where both men lacked was their physicality. Neither was easy to push around, but neither made a knack of physically bullying opponents either. Instead both boxed. They boxed in different styles, but they were both boxers at heart, and not fighters. They both liked creating some space to work with, countering mistakes and taking advantages of when an opponent slipped up. But both could force the action when they needed to and, when they landed clean, they could do damage.
Physicially the bigger guy would be John, the natural Featherweight, and he would almost certainly boss the few clinches we'd see. John also has a slightly longer reach, though both guys are pretty much the same height. Hasegawa would however perhaps edge the speed, both hand and feet, and his southpaw stance could prove a problem for John.
Early on we'd expect to see a very technical chess match. John probably the more aggressive in the first round or two, but not by much as both looked to draw a mistake from the other, with patience being the key. From there on though the bout would pick up, and we'd start to see a slow build, yet always compelling, technical war. We don't expect many exchanges, but what we'd get would be sensational.
Sadly for Hasegawa we do see him coming up short, as natural size plays a part over 12 rounds. It'd be close, hotly competitive, and intriguing through out with both men showing amazing foot work and ring craft, with John just sneaking the decision.
Would history of been changed?
Looking at the time frame we'd want the bout, against early 2011, Hasegawa wouldn't have faced Gonzalez, if he lost here, and the WBC linage from him would have been starkly different. It would potentially have done away with the reigns of Daniel Ponce De Leon, Abner Mares and even Gary Russell's long reign, which has ran since 2015. We would still expect to see Hasegawa move down in weight, and eventually become a 3-weight champion.
As for John history would look kinder on him, and the Indonesian super fight with Daud Yordan would have been pushed back to later in 2011. There's a chance his reign would have ended earlier than it did, as this bout may have put some miles on his clock, but in reality if he squeezed this in then continued with what he did his loss to Vetyeka, which we would envision now being in 2014, would have come when he was 49-0-3.
Of course it's hard to know for a fact how things would have played out, both in the ring and in terms of politics, but we suspect the Featherweight division would look a bit different had we seen the "Dragon" and the "Ace" clash in 2011.
We at Asian boxing are always looking to do something a little bit different and bring attention to things that are perhaps not the most well known. With that in mind we though we'd put together a small list of songs about Asian boxers. We know this is a long way from a complete list, but we do think it's a pretty varied list.
This is just an opinion, maaaan! It's easy to share our opinions, and that's what you'll find here, some random opinion pieces