For this week's Remarkable Round we're not looking at a round that had knockdowns, but we are looking at a round that had high level boxing and one of the best sequences from the entire of 2016. Better than just the action, which was brilliant, is the fact this round came in a world title fight, and it ended up being the final round in the career of a true modern day Asian icon of the sport.
The bout really summed up the skill set of one of the men, and the desire of the other, and ended up giving us something memorable. Despite that it was really this round that stood out as being genuinely exceptional and something that was truly highlight worthy. That was despite the fact that the round was a massively intense one, in fact first 2 minutes of it saw little happen, but the final minute or so, boy was that something special!
Hozumi Hasegawa (35-5, 15) vs Hugo Ruiz (36-3, 32)
The bout it's self was a WBC Super Bantamweight world title bout and saw hard hitting Mexican world champion Hugo Ruiz travel over to Japan to defend his title against the popular and often exciting Hozumi Hasegawa.
At the time of this bout Ruiz was seen as a destructive force, a big punching Mexican fighter who was huge at Super Bantamweight. Stading at 5'9" he was a big guy and at just 29 years old he was regarded as still being well within his prime. With 39 fights to his name was a veteran of the ring, but from those 29 bouts he had scored 32 T/KO's. His only losses were an early career one to Enrique Quevedo, a controversial decision to Koki Kameda and a stoppage to Julio Ceja, which had been avenged.
Hasegawa on the other hand was 35 and had looked an old man. He had been stopped in 3 of his last 10, and had been battered in to submission in his previous world title bout at Super Bantamweight, against Kiko Martinez, more than 2 years earlier. Although he had been a great, especially at Bantamweight, he was regarded as a man who was really being advised to retire and was thought of as being shot, especially given how badly he had struggled just 1 bout earlier against Carlos Ruiz. He was also a massive under-dog here, with bookies in the US making him a 3/1 dog.
The first 8 rounds had been highly engaging and relatively competitive. With the WBC's open scoring being in effect in Japan we knew the scores around 30 seconds into round 9, and these were 78-72 to Hasegawa, 76-74, also to Hasegawa, and 76-74 to Ruiz. For those wondering, Hasegawa had been deducted a point in the opening round for a clash of heads, before Ruiz was deducted a point, also for a clash of heads, in round 7, with both deductions coming under the WBC's accidental foul rule.
With the scores known, and with 4 rounds left, the bout was all to play for in the final stages, and both men knew it.
The start of the round, as mentioned previously, wasn't too exciting. Hasegawa was trying to use his speed to line up southpaw left hands, and make the most of Ruiz's slow feet. Ruiz on the other hand was cautious pressing, hoping to line up Hasegawa, who smart footwork to create some space when he needed it. It seemed that Ruiz's size and power were something that Hasegawa had to be wary of and midway through the round Ruiz managed to connect, forcing Hasegawa back and exciting Ruiz who came forward with some new energy. It hurt Hasegawa who bucked and looked to hold before backing on to the ropes.
It was with Hasegawa on the ropes that the round got it's highlight as Ruiz went for the kill and Hasegawa slipped, slid and countered wonderfully with his back against the ropes. It was an amazing back and forth exchange, and one that saw both men letting their hands go, almost none stop for 15, heart in mouth, seconds. This was just amazing to watch, incredibly intense action and it saw the tide change, with Ruiz hurt, backing off and having his face, which was bloodied at the start of the round, looking smashed to pieces. Hasegawa could smell blood and looked for the finish, though was respectful and didn't risk too much against the power of Ruiz.
Immediately as the round ended Ruiz's team waved in the towel, deciding their man was done. Ending the bout, and the round, with their man's health at the forefront of their mind.
Amazing Ruiz had won the round on two of the judges scorecards, despite ending the round with his corner waving the towel.
After bout Hasegawa sat on the title for a few months, before deciding this was the perfect time to end his career, retiring as a 3-weight world champion, having accomplished the target he had set himself years earlier. As for Hugo Ruiz his career continued and in 2019 he was stopped, inside a round, by Gervonta Davis, in what is likely to be his final career bout.
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).