By Joe Koizumi
WBC bantamweight champ Hozumi Hasegawa (27-2, 11 KOs), Japan, will put his belt on the line for the tenth time against Nicaraguan challenger Alvaro Perez (18-1-1-3NC, 12 KOs) tomorrow (Friday) in Kobe, Japan. At the weigh-in ceremony, Hasegawa scaled in at 117.75, while Perez 117. It will be an encounter of southpaws.
Hasegawa, in a sense, is a strange boxer, as he completely turned hard-puncher after his upset coronation by dethroning Veeraphol Nakhornluang-Promotion on point in April 2005. As he acquired the WBC belt, his mark was only 18-2, 5 KOs, and people then regarded him only as a fast-punching skillful speedster. Since then, he registered nine defenses with six within the distance. Especially in his last four defenses, the 29-year-old Japanese displayed so quick demolitions as shown in his victories over Cristian Faccio (TKO2), Alejandro Valdez (TKO2), mandatory challenger Vusi Malinga (TKO1) and Nestor Rocha (TKO1).
We are reluctant to predict an outcome, as our press views have successively failed in expecting his tough defenses against such well-prepared and strong-looking challengers as Valdez (who lately defeated WBO ruler Fernando Montiel in a non-title bout, though it was later revised to a technical draw), Malinga (with an excellent form) and Rocha (with such a fine 21-1 ledger).
Perez, in his public workout, showed a good style and form as an aggressive and hard-punching challenger who may display a good performance. It is true Perez has fought all in his native country Nicaragua but one in Panama, and has faced almost all internationally unknown opponents so far. According to Latin American news sources Perez can fight and is a dangerous challenger to Hasegawa. We will see whether it is true or not.
The WBC officials are as follows: referee Bruce McTavish (Philippines); judges Victor Cervantes (Mexico), Bulmaro Campuzano (US) and Noppharat Sricharoen (Thailand); and supervisor Edward Thangarajah (Thailand).
All WBC highly rated bantam challengers look forward to this title bout to be over, as it seems very certain that Hasegawa may renounce his 118-pound belt to move up to the super-bantam or feather category. When top notchers received an offer from Hasegawa, all but the Nicaraguan Perez rejected it and preferred waiting to participate in eliminators in the nearest future.
Only what is dangerous is Hasegawa’s overconfidence under such optimistic atmosphere that people believe in his victory. Fighting Harada, back in 1968, astoundingly lost his then undisputed world bantamweight belt to a Australian substitute Lionel Rose by an upset majority decision in his fifth defense, as a formidable KO artist Jesus Pimentel refused to fight Harada here to be replaced by the then #9 contender. Harada had defeated such formidable challengers as British speedster Alan Rudkin, ex-champ “Golden Bantam” Eder Jofre, mandatory challenger Jose Medel and Bernardo Caraballo to his credit.
As Lionel Rose, Perez is only the ninth ranked contender by the WBC. Should a highly motivated challenger enter the ring, his rank may not be any good index to suggest his strength and a possibility of winning the belt. Therefore, we have witnessed great many examples in history that unexpected and unheralded underdogs produced an upset to become new champs. Tomorrow we will see how really good Hasegawa is and how strong Perez is.
On the undercard, former WBC feather ruler Takahiro Aoh will make his first appearance as a 130-pounder after his forfeiture of his throne to Elio Diaz and face Colombian Feider Viloria over ten rounds. Aoh, a Japanese southpaw, tipped the beam at 129.75 to 129.25 for Viloria, handled by his Cuban trainer Ismael Salas (who coaches Yuriorkis Gamboa and Erislandy Lara, etc. in Miami).
This show will be presented by Shinsei Promotions in association with Teiken Promotions to be shown nationwide in Japan.