Feature Story

World title twinbill today

By Joe Koizumi

A WBC world title doubleheader will take place today at the Nihon Gaishi Hall (previously called Rainbow Hall), Nagoya, Japan. Former WBC bantam champ Hozumi Hasegawa (28-3, 12 KOs) will make an adventurous attempt to fight in a quest for the vacant WBA feather belt—in his comebacking bout—by disputing it against unbeaten Mexican Juan Carlos Burgos (25-0, 18 KOs) over twelve frames. Hasegawa recklessly jumps two classes at once from the 118-pound category even though he had a severe weight problem through his ten consecutive defenses prior to his shocking forfeiture of the WBC belt at the hand of Fernando Montiel this April. The Japanese hero then suffered a broken jaw and had to wait for this bout for seven months. Both Hasegawa and Burgos, seven years his junior at 22, on Thursday tipped the beam at 125.75, just a quarter pound lighter than the feather limit.

The officials are as follows: referee Roberto Ramirez Diaz (a son of the well-reputed veteran father of Puerto Rico); judges Hubert Minn (Hawaii, US), Duane Ford (Nevada, US) and Joel Scobie (Canada); supervisor Michael George (US).

Another title bout will be shown in the same bill, as WBC super-feather ruler Vitali Tajbert (20-1, 6 KOs), from Germany, will put his belt on the line against ex-WBC feather kingpin Takahiro Aoh (19-2-1, 9 KOs), a Japanese southpaw as well as six-time national amateur champ before turning professional. It might be ironic that Aoh lost his WBC belt to Elio Rojas, Dominican Republic, in his initial defense, and Rojas recently became so physically unavailable that Hasegawa thus fights for the vacant throne relinquished by Rojas (who has become WBC champion in recess). Tajbert, two years his senior at 28, scaled in at 129.5, while Aoh at the 130-pound limit.

The officials are as follows: referee Bruce McTavish (New Zealand); judges Duane Ford (US), Jaebong Kim (Korea) and Noppharat Sricharoen (Thailand); supervisor Edward Thangarajah (Thailand).

Hasegawa and Aoh both attempt to conquer their second world championship this time. Although the wall of the weight categories is actually broken by an Asian prodigy named Manny Pacquiao, generally speaking, it may not be so easy to win the world belt in the heavier division. For example, our legendary hero Fighting Harada wrested the world flyweight belt from Pone Kingpetch and the bantam throne from “golden bantam” Eder Jofre, but failed to win the feather crown from Johnny Famechon on two occasions. Even great bantam champ Carlos Zarate couldn’t gain the super-bantam belt from Wilfredo Gomez in 1978. The then WBC 122-pound champ Gomez, in his first attempt to win the feather belt, pitifully failed to dethrone Salvador Sanchez via eighth round TKO in 1981.

However, if the Weight Wall had been overly exaggerated and can be conquered through the improvement of ring science, Hasegawa and Aoh may be able to follow the footstep of PacMan. We, at first, analyze a possibility of Hasegawa winning this game and the second world belt for him. Our optimistic aficionados point out the fact that the 22-year-old Mexican Burgos, even though unbeaten, hasn’t fought any internationally name opposition and hasn’t been tested yet. He hasn’t fought any southpaw rivals in his pro career. Hasegawa fought twelve times with the world bantam belt at stake, which certainly proves Hasegawa is more experienced in important competitions. But Burgos is some two inches taller than Hasegawa and younger, which is also the fact.

Roberto “Manos de Piedra” Duran jumped up two divisions, skipping the junior welter category and directly fighting in the welter class. Whether true or not, it might be chiefly because the 140-pound ruler then was such a formidable champ as Antonio “Kid Pambele” Cervantes. Hasegawa has been loyal to the WBC, having fought exclusively for the WBC bantam belt. The WBC 122-pound champ is Toshiaki Nishioka, a senior world champ who belongs to the same Teiken Promotions as Hasegawa. We suppose it made Hasegawa decide to fight directly for the feather throne. As Duran skipped Cervantes, Hasegawa might do Nishioka.

Hasegawa is a speedy boxer-puncher with excellent reflexes and fantastic speed, as shown in his last losing game to Fernando Montiel. Before the shocker abruptly happened, Hasegawa had completely controlled the proceedings, leading on points of all cards. Technically and tactically, Hasegawa might be superior to Burgos, the less experienced and rather monotonous puncher. People who have been closely watching Hasegawa in his fights and great many sparring sessions testify that he has a good chin. But it might be a story in case of Hasegawa fighting bantam or super-bantam opponents. We don’t know how good a chin he has and how excellent his vaunted defensive ability will be against the legitimate feather opponent Burgos. Therefore, we are very much eager to watch Hasegawa’s venture in the 126-pound category for the first time in his career.

How much do we know about Vitali Tajbert? In accordance with a biography page of BoxRec, Tajbert, as an amateur, gained great many medals including a bronze one in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. It is said Tajbert was national amateur champ for seven years. We have seen some fragments of his previous fights including his latest against Hector Velasquez (Technical Decision win 9).

Reviewing his professional record, Tajbert tasted a one and only defeat by Siarhei Guliakevich with the European super-feather belt at stake via twelve-round unanimous decision in December 2008. The tall boxer from Belarus, Guliakevich went to fight for the vacant interim WBC 130-pound belt only to lose a controversial majority decision to Mauro Gutierrez in Mexico in August 2009.

It was Tajbert that captured the said WBC interim throne from Gutierrez by a unanimous nod in Germany in November 2009. As the WBC full champ Humberto Soto moved up to win the WBC lightweight crown, Tajbert elevated to the legitimate WBC 130-pound champ and then made his initial defense against Hector Velasquez this May.

Watching his fight footages, we find Tajbert is a very good left hooker. Unlike other European boxers, the German technician usually hangs his left hand rather low to make his trademark left hook fly freely and smoothly. Through his long amateur career, Tajbert has established his good defense and fine reflexes even at the middle or close range. He is not such a type labeled as “dangerous” but has a high level of sound skills.

Will Aoh be able to win over such a skillful champ as Tajbert? Aoh is an unpredictable boxer-puncher, sometimes excellent and sometimes disappointing. Smooth on foot and fast on hand, Aoh, we admit, is a vastly-talented boxer, but he occasionally betrayed our expectations. Against Elio Rojas, even though he was no longer able to properly make the feather limit, he looked sluggish and slow only to be outpunched by the smoother boxer Rojas.

Aoh once captured the WBC feather belt by overwhelming Oscar Larios in a grudge fight in March of the previous year. Then Aoh looked formidable and ferocious. Should Aoh really be motivated to win his second belt and show his career-best performance, he may be able to do so. Otherwise, it may be Tajbert that will give a sound boxing lesson to the younger prospect Aoh. We saw Aoh taller than Tajbert at the official weigh-in ceremony, and he is as muscular as the defending champ. Now that Aoh outgrew the feather category, he may not have such a great physical handicap to Tajbert as Aoh looked a little larger than the kingpin. We expect a high technical and speedy fight between them.

On the undercard, unbeaten super-fly KO artist Carlos Cuadras, Mexico, will appear against Thailander Sakchai Sorthanapinyo over eight rounds.

This sensational show is presented by Teiken Promotions in association with Shinsei Promotions.

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