In 2011 we got a number of upsets and if we're being honest the Super Flyweight division played host to a lot of them. Today we going to look at one of the most forgotten and over-looked upsets from the division that year. It was a bout that saw a man not even ranked by Ring Magazine beating the man they had at #1. It was an under-dog who few had given much of a chance to, and was reportedly a 4/1 betting under-dog. It was supposed to be the next defense by a man who already 4 under his belt. But instead we got a notable shock!
Tomonobu Shimizu (18-3-1, 9) Vs Hugo Fidel Cazares (35-6-2, 25)
Now a days we don't see much mention of Tomonobu Shimizu, even on Japanese sites, but when he turned professional there was big expectations on his shoulders after a solid amateur career. Sadly however an opening round stoppage in just his second professional bout, a huge upset in it's self to Kaennakorn Klongpajol, slowed his climb through the rankings. Despite that speed bump he managed to get a world title fight just over 3 years after debuting, and was stopped by Pongsaklek Wonjongkam.
A year after his loss to Wonjongkam we saw Shimizu claim his first title, the Japanese Flyweight title, with a narrow win over Kenji Yoshida. Just 3 months later he was again stopped in a world title bout, this time by Daisuke Naito in the 10th round whilst leading on the cards. He would then go on to defend the Japanese Flyweight title 4 times, defending against the likes of Toshiyuki Igarashi and Shigetaka Ikehara, before vacating in 2011 as he began the search for a third title bout. That saw him moving up in weight to take on Hugo Fidel Cazares.
At this point in time Hugo Fidel Cazares was the WBA champion and was widely recognised as either the #1 or #2 in the division. He had held the WBA title since claiming it in May 2010 with a win in Japan against Nobuo Nashiro, in their second bout, and had defended it 4 times. They included some defenses against poor competition, such as Everardo Morales, but also a win in Japan against Hiroyuki Kudaka, who then fought as Hiroyuki Hisataka.
Prior to winning the WBA Super Flyweight title Cazares had been a notable player at Light Flyweight, some how shrinking his huge frame down to 108lbs. It was at the lower weight that he ha won the WBO title and made 5 defenses before losing to Ivan Calderon. A rematch to Calderon saw Cazares lose again before leaving the division and making his move to Super Flyweight, where he had quickly made a name for himself with a win over Roberto Vasquez, and his two bouts with Nashiro.
Although he had 6 losses to his name Cazares had only lost twice in 11 years, both close decisions to the brilliant Ivan Calderon. He had been a world traveller and was dubbed "El Increible". He was the clear betting favourite against the 4/1 Shimizu who was ranked #7 by the WBA and given little chance to over-come the Mexican, especially given his issues with durability at Flyweight, never mind Super Flyweight.
Despite being the under-dog Shimizu employed a smart game plan against Cazares. The Mexican champion was a notoriously slow started and Shimizu used that to his advantage, racking up the early rounds, taking the fight Cazares early on and using his speed brilliantly well. The Mexican looked the bigger, stronger, more powerful fighter but the Japanese fighter was putting down the early marker by using his speed and skills.
After two good rounds for Shimizu we began to see Cazares get going and by the end of round 3 he was working his way in to the contest, putting his foot on the gas and coming forward. The new pressure form Cazares made the round much more compelling than the two before it and began a charge from champion who came on strong over the middle rounds.
By round 7 it was as if Shimzu's good start had been turned back, and that Cazares was now in the ascendency. His work rate, power, and physical strength was showing and he was the one bossing the fight, pressing and pressuring Shimizu who was being forced to dig deep. To his credit however Shimizu was fighting back, gritting his teeth and not rolling over for the champion, despite Cazares's success.
The big surge from Cazares had seen him sneak in the lead on the judges cards, whilst giving us a genuinely fantastic bout, but it hadn't seen him dent the desire of Shimizu who refused to go away. In fact it made Shimizu dig deep and turn the tables in rounds 8 and 9, as his body shots began to slow down Cazares, and he even seemed to hurt the Mexican at one point, with Cazares being on the retreat mid-way through round 8 after a brutal flurry to his mid-section. Cazares was again looking hurt in round 9, this time to the head as we got another fantastic round.
The big effort from Shimizu in rounds 8 and 9 weren't able to be sustained and Cazares came back well in round 10 as both men realised this was close. Despite this being close both men were beginning to slow a little, with both feeling the pace. Round 11, whilst still exciting, was a much slower round than many that had come before it, with both men just taking a bit more time to get things off. This suited Shimizu who managed to create space and work at range, taking the final two rounds. Cazares was still hungry but his speed and energy had dropped off and he was regularly eating counters when he rushed in, and was picked off at range as Shimizu fought a smart final round.
After 12 rounds it was clear we had had a close bout and that was reflected on the score-cards with scores of 115-113, twice, and 114-115. Thankfully for the local man the two 115-113 cards both went his was, whilst the third card narrowly favoured Cazares.
The cards, as close as they were, had seen the clear under-dog pick up a career defining victory.
Sadly for Shimizu his reign was a short one, losing in his first defense 8 months later to Tepparith Singwancha. His reign was notable however as he would become Champion in Recess for much of his reign due to an injury he suffered in this bout, and the bout with Tepparith was a unification of the "Recess" and "Regular" titles.
As for Cazares he fought on until 2016, and remained a notable figure in the sport. Sadly he finished his career at Featherweight, where his size and and physicality really didn't work.
For this week's remarkable round we're going to bring you a criminally forgotten round. We didn't get any knock downs, or a stoppage but what we saw was 3 minutes of high octane back and forth action. The round saw momentum shift one way and then the other and then back and back again. It was thrilling from start to end and yet is very rarely spoken about now, just 9 years on. In reality this is one that deserves a watch, and a rewatch.
Tomonobu Shimizu (18-3-1, 9) vs Hugo Fidel Cazares (35-6-2, 25)
In one corner was Japanese fighter Tomonobu Shimizu, a gutsy contender who had come up short in previous world title fights to Pongsaklek Wonjongkam and Daisuke Naito. Although a very talented fighter he had been stopped in both of his previous world title bouts and had also been stopped in his other loss, an early career defeat to Kaennakorn Klongpajol. Although very skilled the feeling was that he lacked the durability to be a world champion.
In the opposite corner to Shimizu was Mexican warrior Hugo Fidel Cazares. "El Increible" as he was known had been the WBA Super Flyweight champion since dethroning Nobuo Nashiro in 2010 and had made 4 defenses of the title, including on in Japan against Hiroyuki Kudaka around 8 months before this bout. At the time he was regarded, by many, as the top dog in the division, and although his competition since winning the title was limited he was strongly favoured to over-come Shimizu here.
Notably Cazares had only lost twice in the previous 11 years, with both of those losses coming to Ivan Calderon.
The first 7 rounds of the bout had been incredibly engaging, with Cazares looking the stronger man but having a slow start. Shimizu got off to a really good start, taking the lead in the early going, but Cazare's strength, power, pressure and work rate had reeled the challenger back in.
And then we got in to round 8, and boy what a round this was!
It took a few seconds to get going but when it began to move on it did so rapidly with Cazares taking control early and dominated the first 40 seconds, then Shimizu came back at the champion, giving the round it's first swing. Then Shimziu managed to hurt Cazares, sending the crowd and commentary into fits of excitement, but then Cazares gutted it out and fired back. With just over a minute to go the round was up for grabs, but Shimizu knew he had his man on the back foot. Cazares knew he couldn't let it slip away, after all he was the one with the momentum coming into the round.
If you've 3 minutes of time, give this one a watch, it's a real great round of back and forth action!
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).