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
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