By Joe Koizumi
Photo: Boxing Beat
Elongated Panamanian Celestino “Pelenchin” Caballero (36-4, 23 KOs), 125.25, successfully retained his WBA featherweight belt as he kept battering game but much shorter Japanese Satoshi “Bazooka” Hosono (21-2, 15 KOs), 126, from all angles and pounded out a unanimous decision over twelve furious rounds on Saturday in Yokohama, Japan.
The verdict was so lopsided as follows: Roberto Ramrez (Puerto Rico) and Levi Martinez (US) both 119-108, and Wansoo Yuh (Korea) 116-111, all for the 5’11” lanky champ. The referee was Rafael Ramos (US).
We hadn’t recently welcomed Panamanian boxers in world title bouts, but when we heard the national anthem of Panama, we couldn’t but remember such annihilations of Ismael Laguna over Guts Ishimatsu, Hilario Zapata over Shigeo Nakajima and Tadashi Tomori, plus Eusebio Pedroza over Royal Kobayashi and Spider Nemoto. When the exceptionally tall champ as a 126-pounder started fighting, he vividly reminded us of such nightmare of the Panamanian domination over our boxers.
Reviewing this fight, it simply resulted in a more one-sided affair than we had expected, since we hoped Hosono, 28, might have a chance to dethrone the 35-year-old string bean. Hosono’s bazooka never exploded against Pelenchin, four inches taller and eight inches longer in reach. Caballero toyed with the Japanese challenger with incessant jabs and sickle-like uppercuts all the way. He could punch harder than “Bazooka” Hosono since he had such skills to hit the target with precision.
The Panamanian champ, making his initial defense since dethroning Jonathan Barros on points in Argentina this October, started jabbing busily as if he arrogantly showed how long his arm was. Hosono moved well to avert his jabs and covered himself up with his tight guard.
The second saw Hosono turn loose with wild combinations in the close quarter, but the champ cleverly grabbed him to keep him from landing solid shots. It’s Hosono’s round, the first and last this reporter tallied in his favor throughout the contest.
The third was eventually a beginning of Caballero’s one-man show. The champ released solid bombs from upstairs to have Hosono’s left optic puffed early. Hosono might display good retaliation but did so without precision. Caballero, in round four, positively threw roundhouse punches, including long right uppercuts to the face. Hosono attempted to fight back with body bombardments, which were mostly unexploded due to Caballero’s excellent defense.
A couple of judges gave the fifth to Hosono, though this reporter didn’t agree with them. Caballero showed fine sharpshooting to the shorter rival, who landed several left and right hooks to the taller champ in the closing seconds of the fifth session. But it was true that Hosono only hit a punch at a time, while the champ more effectively landed long shots to Hosono.
The awkward champ accelerated his attack to the face and the midsection, badly shaking him up in the sixth round. Hosono seemed to suffer considerable damage, which then suggested it would be a matter of time. But Hosono quickly recovered and showed his aggressiveness, if neither accurate nor effective.
The eighth looked so funny that Caballero at first whipped Hosono with long quick punches, and began circling to-and-fro to avert his retaliation. Caballero looked clever and cunning enough to save his energy, though he was apparently losing his stamina. Caballero, in round nine, kept outboxing and outpunching the still onrushing challenger.
In the tenth, Caballero turned so positive and pugnacious that he would like to finish the affair then and there, but Hosono very gamely withstood his desperate attack. Later in this round Caballero became tired and began to move from side to side to save his energy. Hosono temporarily lost his composure and roughly attacked the champ, hitting the back of the head. He was penalized a point for the rabbit punch by the strict ref Ramos.
Caballero, in the eleventh, once again tried to finish Hosono, who, however, displayed his remarkable heart and fought back hard with still strong but miserably inaccurate punches. The champ seemed to be amazed at Hosono’s durability and give up his intention to sink the Japanese bazooka.
The twelfth and final session was only a monotonous round with each automatically throwing less effective blows in the middle range, though it was Caballero’s round again.
Hosono, who comes from Fukushima that suffered disastrous earthquake and tsunami last March, showed his fighting spirit to combacking neighbors. But he failed to win the world belt from the champ with excellent flexibility and reflexes. We frankly realized the difference of their real power.
The crestfallen Hosono with puffed eyes gloomily said, “He read my distance, and I couldn’t hit strong shots to him.”
Caballero said, “I didn’t feel Hosono’s power as I absorbed no serious shots from him. I wish to come back to fight here again.” But now that we witnessed his incredible performance, no promoters may make an offer for Pelenchin to fight here again.
Caballero, reminiscent of Antonio Amaya (who lost a couple of hairline decision to Hiroshi Kobayashi in 1969 and 1970), amazingly said that Amaya was his uncle. The great jabber Amaya’s good blood might succeed to Caballero, who had a final payday of the year here in Japan.
Japanese super-feather champ Seiichi Okada (16-1, 9 KOs), 129, barely kept his national belt by eking out a majority decision (96-94, 97-94 and 95-95) over ex-feather ruler Koji Umezu (18-12-3, 8 KOs), 130, over ten.
Unbeaten minimum Ryuji Hara (10-0, 8 KOs), 105, dispatched Marthen Lumoly, 104.5, Indonesia, at 2:28 of the second round. Hara, who once wished to be a jockey, looks very promising.
Seventeen-year-old novice, four-time national amateur flyweight champ Ryo Matsumoto, 116.5, made a fine professional debut by dispatching Thailander Petchjomthong Sor Tanapinyo, 116.75, with three knockdowns at 1:34 of the opening session in a scheduled six.
Promoter: Ohashi Promotions.