By Joe Koizumi
Photos: Naoki Fukuda
Hard-hitting Mexican Jhonny Gonzalez (48-7, 42 KOs), 124,75, captured the WBC feather belt as he stunned the audience with a one-punch stoppage of defending champ Hozumi Hasegawa (29-4, 12 KOs), 125.75, at 0:58 of the fourth session on Friday in Kobe, Japan.
Hasegawa, a Japanese southpaw who previously kept his WBC bantam throne ten times to his credit, directly moved up to the feather category and acquired the WBC belt by unanimously decisioning Juan Carlos Burgos of Mexico last November.
It was his first and mandatory defense against the official challenger Gonzalez, ex-WBO 118-pound ruler who lately registered seven consecutive stoppages after suffering a bad TKO defeat by Toshiaki Nishioka in three rounds in Mexico in May 2009.
Hasegawa, moving in and out, was aggressive from the outset, scoring quick jabs and southpaw lefts to the midsection. Gonzalez, however, occasionally connected with sickle-like looping left hooks to the fast-moving southpaw. Hasegawa maintained the pressure and positively attacked the Mexican upright stylist in the first three sessions.
Early in the fourth, Gonzalez abruptly threw a wild, long and well-timed right hook to the face of Hasegawa, who went down with the shot. He desperately stood up with rubbery legs, which understandably caused referee Mike Griffin (Canada) to call a halt. It was a shocking defeat of the Japanese hero in the last of the triple-header. Anything can happen in the ring.
Hasegawa had been leading on points after the third round: 30-27 and 29-28 twice. As he was taking the initiative, he might have been a little careless. But Gonzalez’s haymaker was solid, strong and smashing enough to sink our hero.
Reflecting the process of the bout, we just wonder why Hasegawa was so unnecessarily nervous, aggressive and tense despite taking the pace and initiative. Obviously he was by far faster than Gonzalez. If so, why didn’t he stick to his initial game plan to outlegging and outboxing the Mexican in the early stage of the contest. Probably he might still feel his physical disadvantage in the featherweight bout, so he might naturally try to put more power behind his punches. Or, he might have had a little too much confidence lately in swapping punches with his rival.
The crestfallen ex-champ Hasegawa said, “I couldn’t see the last punch thrown by Gonzalez. I might have been just watching his most dangerous weapon, the left hand, so didn’t pay much attention to his right hand. Then came his right. It was strong and effective. I felt it solid. I wanted to go on, but it’s the referee’s decision to stop it or to have it go on. I’ve no claim on his decision. Let me consider whether I’ll continue fighting or not. Should I decide to go on fighting, I must be more serious to do so.”
Ignacio “Nacho” Beristein, the trainer of the newly crowned champ, reviewed the fight, saying, “Hasegawa was very fast. Too fast for Jhonny to catch with his left hand. So, after the second round, I advised Jhonny to try to hit a big right. Our strategy was successful.”
Hasegawa used to be a Pernell-Whitaker-stylist dependent on his strategy of hitting without getting hit. But he gradually changed his style into a more aggressive one, since he kept his WBC bantam belt by finishing or stopping his challenger on five occasions straight. He then had a great weight problem as he actually outgrew the 118-pound division, but he kept defending his bantam belt until he forfeited it to WBO ruler Fernando Montiel in four rounds in April of the previous year.
His first appearance as a 126-pounder was a title crack for disputing the vacant WBC feather throne with Burgos, whom Hasegawa outhustled and overpowered to win the second belt. Technically, Hasegawa then didn’t show his best performance as he occasionally absorbed good shots of the Mexican opponent though eventually winning the vacant throne.
Should he come back to the ring, Hasegawa had better return to his original style by taking more care of his defensive skills as well as his offensive skills. Otherwise, his future as a 126-pounder might be hard. We hope Hasegawa’s third coronation by correcting his technical flaws.
Promoter: Teiken Promotions in association with Shinsei Promotions.