By Joe Koizumi
WBC bantam champ Hozumi Hasegawa (28-2, 12 KOs), 117.75, impressively scored his tenth defense as he exploded a vicious double left cross to Nicaraguan challenger Alvaro Perez (18-2-1-3 NC, 12 KOs), 117, and dropped him face first prone to prompt the referee’s immediate halt at 2:38 of the fourth round on Friday in Kobe, Japan. Hasegawa, a couple of days after his twenty-ninth birthday, celebrated it with his tenth defense by his fifth stoppage in a row. Perez, 27, fought aggressively from the start, throwing big shots to the cautiously counter-punching the champ.
As the fight progressed, Hasegawa found his range and rhythm with stinging southpaw jabs and caught him with good lefts to the face. Perez, another southpaw, landed a solid left early in the second, but gradually yielded the initiative to the aggressive and more accurate champ. Hasegawa may renounce his 118-pound belt to move up to the 122-pound or 126-pound category afterward.
It was a short but hard-fought affair. Perez furiously came out fighting from the outset probably to avert a first-round KO defeat that Hasegawa had said he would try to score. The Nicaraguan threw strong left crosses to the champ, who coolly waived them off and attempted to counter. But Hasegawa, usually smooth and swift from the start, looked tense and stiff as he was apparently anxious to register his third straight victory inside the first three minutes.
The second saw Perez land a solid left to Hasegawa, who then began to respect the desperate challenger and raised his guard. The champ connected some left crosses with better precision. But Perez’s combination in the closing seconds had the champ off-balanced badly as if he looked to have touched the canvas with a glove. The referee Bruce MacTavish waived it off as he closely watched the scene and saw Hasegawa hadn’t touched the deck. Two judges had it for the champ, but another saw it for Perez.
Hasegawa, in the third, appeared still stiff, trying to land strong shots to the willing mixer from Nicaragua. But the champ began to score good southpaw jabs and quick lefts with better precision than in the previous two sessions. Perez was still aggressive, but couldn’t hit the champ any longer as Hasegawa had already read the challenger’s timing and angles.
Hasegawa, in round four, became more accurate in catching the game but monotonous challenger. He was in clear command with sharp jabs and solid left crosses. Finally the champ landed a very solid and short double left which was reminiscent of Muhammad Ali’s double punch to Zara Folley in 1967. Perez so badly fell face first onto the canvas that we saw him definitely unable to go on. The third man McTavish’s well-timed halt was praised by our experts.
It was registered as TKO, not a knockout, as, in Japan, a stoppage without the ref counting out the loser should be recorded as technical knockout. Not like in Mexico, there’s no “nocaut efectivo (effective knockout)” where the referee promptly realizes the loser cannot continue fighting upon his bad knockdown.
The official tallies after the third were as follows: Victor Cervantes (Mexico) and Bulmaro Campuzano (US) both 30-27, and Noppharat Sricharoen (Thailand) 29-28, all for Hasegawa.
We haven’t heard who will be the new target for Hasegawa who will certainly relinquish his belt because of his severe weight problem. He won’t jump up by three classes as Manny Pacquiao who had moved up from the 112-pound class to the 122-pound category, skipping the super-fly and bantam divisions. As the WBC super-bantam ruler is his compatriot Toshiaki Nishioka, Hasegawa may start fighting directly in the feather category.
Undercard: Former WBC feather champ Takahiro Aoh (18-2-1, 8 KOs), 129.75, failed to score a KO win, though he had Colombian Feider Viloria (22-6-2, 15 KOs), 129, time and again only to be content with a unanimous decision victory (98-93, 97-93 and 100-90) over ten. Aoh, a sturdy southpaw with good reflexes, averted almost all strong shots of Viloria, but tried to finish him with a big shot at a time. Had he thrown more combinations, he might have been able to floor or finish him within the distance. Aoh is currently rated #3 in the WBC 130-pound class.
Promoter: Shinsei Promotions in association with Teiken Promotions.