We often write fighters off and try to send them to the retirement home. Sometimes it really is for their own health, after all what is Roy Jones Jr still doing in the ring? Sometimes however they really do still have it, despite what we all believe. That was shown earlier today when Japanese veteran, and general boxing legend, Hozumi Hasegawa (35-6, 16) [長谷川 穂積] shocked the boxing world to become a 3-weight world champion.
The 35 year old former Bantamweight and Featherweight champion had been written off by all, including ourselves, but put in a thrilling performance to force a stoppage of heavy handed Mexican Hugo Ruiz (36-4, 32).
Hasegawa's skills were on show early and he seemed to take the opening round, though had been deducted a point under the WBC rules for a headclash and the effort he put in essentially got him a 9-9 round before Ruiz upped his pace and we began to see the Mexican try to make the most of his power and size advantage. Despite being younger Ruiz was slower and his punches seemed to be read well by Hasegawa who continued to look the faster and smart fighter. Despite being faster there was always a risk that he would be tagged and hurt.
Through 4 rounds the fight was close. The Japanese fans, who were able to watch the bout on Sky Perfect 1, seemed to feel their man was doing just enough to have a lead going into the first round of open scoring though the judges didn't agree, having Ruiz in the lead on a split decision after 4 rounds. With the cards reading 38-37 Hasegawa and 38-37 and 39-36 Ruiz
Knowing he was behind Hasegawa changed the tempo and pace of the bout, upping the ante and taking the bout more to Ruiz. Whilst it seemed like a foolish tactic, walking into the firepower of Ruiz, he actually managed to stifle the Mexican who was struggling. Ruiz's struggles were worsened slightly when he cut Hasegawa over the left eyelid, originally ruled a punch though came from a headbutt as seen on replay with the WBC rules then costing Ruiz a point.
Despite the cut Hasegawa wasn't going to be denied and continued to take the fight to Ruiz who looked to have no answer for the southpaw left hand of Hasegawa. After 8 rounds the judges had flipped their view on the bout with one having Hasegawa up 78-72, another having it 76-74 to the Japanese fighter whilst the dissenting judge had Ruiz up 76-74.
In round 9 Hasegawa took a big hook but saw it off and fired back at Ruiz who looked like he was going all in for the round. By the end of the round Ruiz was done and knew it with his team keeping him in the corner following the round.
Ruiz reign, which began earlier this year with an opening round win over Julio Ceja was ended in his first defense. It was a disappointing reign in many ways but we doubt many would complain about seeing him again. The story however is all about the 35 year old Hasegawa who has finally become a 3-weight world champion, achieving one of his boxing dreams. Whether he continues to fight on and defend the title is yet to be seen but what is clear is that this win is one of his most memorable and will help define a career as modern Japanese legend. The HOF in Canastota may be a big ask, but his his effect on Japanese boxing has been huge and he really deserves to tell every one off for writing him off.
To quote the brilliant boxmob - "長谷川!ありがと", "Hasegawa, thank you"
(Image courtesy of daily.co.jp)
Earlier today saw Japanese great Hozumi Hasegawa (33-5, 15) attempt to become the second 3-weight world champion in Japanese history. Unfortunately the 33 year old southpaw came up short as he fought the bull like Kiko Martinez (31-5, 23) who sadly stopped Hasegawa in 7 rounds to retain his IBF Super Bantamweight title.
The fight started competitively with a good opening round for the Japanese challenger. Unfortunately the round ended with the two men trading and it seemed like that was always going to be a problem against the hard headed Martinez who appeared tougher and stronger than Hasegawa.
In the second round the power of Martinez was on show as he rocked, then dropped Hasegawa. Hasegawa showed off his heart and determination by getting back up but went straight back to trading with Martinez who appeared to be going through the gears. The fact the champion had dropped Hasegawa should have said it all, this guys hits hard, instead it seemed like Hasegawa was determined to go out on his shield.
Thankfully over the following few rounds Hasegawa did start to use his skills a bit, despite suffering a nasty cut in round 4 over his right eye. The cut seemed to spur Hasegawa into using his brain and in round 5 he got on to his toes and began to box on the back foot forcing Martinez to fall short with his shots before firing back. It was a glimpse of Hasegawa at his best, he looked, for one round, like the man we all know and loved a fearsome, counter punching machine who could make world class opponents look second rate. Sadly at 33 Hasegawa was only able to muster up one round of that old magic.
In round 6 it seemed clear the magic had worn off as Martinez went to work and although the champion was deducted a point he was clearly on top as his pressure began to force Hasegawa back in to trading. The shots Martinez was landing were taking a clear toll on Hasegawa who was losing his sharpness and his footwork was beginning to get very sloppy as tried to escape the onslaught from the Spaniard.
By the start of round 7 Hasegawa still didn't look himself and Martinez continued to just walk Hasegawa down, this saw Hasegawa again forced into an exchange before he was dropped for the second time in the fight. The brave Japanese fighter managed to regain his feet but bot his senses and a follow up attack saw Martinez send him down for the third time. This time the referee decided to save Hasegawa from himself and immediately waved the bout off.
After the fight the two men embraced in respect though the shocked and saddened audience seemed to know that this was it, the end of Hasegawa who will almost certainly retire now rather than take any more damage. Thankfully Hasegawa walked out of the arena under his own steam and the sadness that was on the fans faces turned to respect as they clapped him back to the changing rooms where he will consider his future.
Hasegawa, if he does retire as expected, has plenty of options though working in TV would seem the most likely following in the footsteps of Toshiaki Nishioka. Like Nishioka, Hasegawa has given us all a lot of nights to remember and although this was a sad night he still gave us something to remember him by with the fantastic action in round 2, the skills in round 5 and the heart in round 7.
(Image courtesy of Boxmob.jp)
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.