By Ron Jackson
South Africa’s Vusi Malinga faces the toughest challenge of his boxing life when he challenges Hozumi Hasegawa of Japan for the WBC bantamweight belt at the World Memorial Hall in Kobe, Japan on Thursday night.
The more experienced 28-year-old Hasegawa 63-6; 39 will be making the eighth defence of his belt that he won in April 2005 when he outpointed Veeraphol Sahaprom and has made successful defences against Gerardo Martinez, Veeraphol Sahaprom, Genaro Garcia, Simphiwe Vetyeka, Simone Maludrotto, Cristian Faccio and Alejandro Valdez.
Hasegawa who fights from the southpaw stance has only lost two four rounder’s early in his career and has remained unbeaten for the last seven years.
The champion is a skilful boxer and in May 2007 showed all his skills when he outboxed South African bantamweight champion Simphiwe Vetyeka who was unbeaten at the time over 12 rounds.
The 29-year-old Malinga 18-2-1; 11 also a southpaw had only one fight in 2008 when he outpointed Veeraphol Nakhonluang from Thailand in a WBC title eliminator and will have a bit of ring rust to knock off.
The odds are stacked against Malinga in this all southpaw clash and the champion must be favoured to retain his title in a closely contested fight over 12 rounds.
On the same card Mexican veteran Oscar Larios 63-6-1; 39 defends his WBC featherweight belt against Japan’s Takahiro Aoh 16-1; 8 in a return match.
In October last year Larios, 32, won the belt on a highly disputed split decision against the 24-year-old Aoh.