September 16, 2016


Japanese veteran Hozumi Hasegawa (36-5, 16 KOs), 122, surprisingly upset WBC super-bantamweight champ Hugo Ruiz (36-4, 32 KOs), 122, by a fine TKO victory after the ninth round to claim his third world belt on Friday in Osaka, Japan. Ruiz, bleeding from the nose since the first round, abruptly quit on the stool as he complained of his nose pain and said he couldnft breathe smoothly.

Itfs a very long way for Hasegawa to gain his third belt in the 122-pound category after he, when young, registered ten defenses of the WBC bantam title until dethroned by Fernando Montiel in 2010. The Japanese southpaw jumped up to the 126-pound class and acquired the vacant WBC feather belt by defeating Juan Carlos Burgos on points seven months after his unsuccessful unification bout with Montiel. But Hasegawa revealed his suspect chin and forfeited his newly-gained 126-pound belt to Jhonny Gonzalez on a fourth-round stoppage in 2011.

Having scored four wins on his comeback trail, Hasegawa had an ambitious crack at the IBF ruler Kiko Martinez only to be demolished in seven lopsided rounds in 2014. People thought Hasegawa was completely through. But he kept fighting to beat a couple of Mexican world contenders?Horacio Garica and Carlos Ruiz (despite being decked twice)?to show his willingness to fight in quest of the world belt again.

Hugo Ruiz, six years his junior at 29 and three inches taller, was a prohibitive favorite even among our aficionados since he displayed a stunning first round stoppage of Julio Ceja in a rematch to wrest the WBC 122-pound belt this February.

In the first round Hasegawa cautiously started throwing quick jabs and long lefts to the midsection while the champ was probing his movement. Then a collision of Ruizfs nose and Hasegawafs head happened with the champ bleeding from the nose bridge appealing his pain to the referee Hector Afu (Panama), who penalized a point from Hasegawa due to the WBCfs accidental cut rule. It eventually cause Ruizfs abrupt quitting after the ninth since the Mexican reportedly suffered a bad fracture of nose bone as diagnosed at a hospital where Ruiz was rushed afterwards.

Ruiz, in round two, scored with a single long right to the face, while Hasegawa kept his distance and kept weaving to make himself a moving target. The Japanese threw a long left to the body following occasional jabs?without good effect. The third saw Ruiz begin bleeding from the middle of eyebrows, but the ref probably thought it opened by Hasegawafs legal punch, so he didnft take any action, nor deducted a point from the Japanese.

The fourth was also fought almost on even terms as Ruiz seemed to have difficulty coping with the fast-moving southpaw, while Hasegawa was also cautious by respecting his vaunted power punching.

The interim scores after the fourth were announced as follows: 38-37, 39-36 for Ruiz, and 37-38 for Hasegawa. It showed a close processing in the beginning of the bout.

In the fifth through seventh, Hasegawa turned loose with speedy southpaw lefts to the face followed by looping right hooks, winning points. Though Ruiz threw solid combinations to Hasegawa, the Japanese lefty had them missing thanks to his good mobility.

A happening occurred in the recess between the seventh and eighth sessions. In round seven Hasegawa had the left eyelid cut because of an accidental butt, but the third man didnft apply the WBC rule but had them go on with no penalty from the champ. During a recess a big screen showed the scene in the seventh when Hasegawa sustained a cut caused by their accidental headbutt. The crowd was roaring to protest against the reffs negligence of Hasegawafs cut. Afu quickly stopped their action in the beginning of the eighth round, and asked for an advice of the supervisor Duane Ford, whose instructions based on the video replay was accurate and quick enough to recommend the reffs penalization of a point from Ruiz. It was a rare case that the penalization of the previous session was executed during the next round.

The taller champ maintained the pressure to be in command in the eighth. After the eighth, the WBC open scores read: 78-72, 76-74 for Hasegawa, and 74-76 for Ruiz.

A climax of the bout was seen midway in the ninth round, when Ruiz rocked Hasegawa with a left uppercut to have him staggering to the ropes. The champ pinned the challenger to the ropes and threw a barrage of roundhouse punches, when Hasegawa desperately retaliated with all he had with his back to the ropes. Surprisingly Hasegawafs combinations caught the bloodied champ with good effect.

A couple of judges gave the ninth to Ruiz, and one to Hasegawa. After winning a point, however, Ruiz decided to stop fighting in the corner. Hasegawa was awarded a TKO win and the WBC belt. However, it seemed to be a bizarre end as Ruiz dominated the previous round and he looked to have good stamina left. But his cornerfs explanation on his nose pain and difficulty in breathing later solved our question.

The judges had tallied after the fatal ninth?Burt Clements 87-82, Donald Sutherland 85-84, both for Hasegawa, and Nicolas Hidalgo 84-85 for Ruiz. Should it have continued, the fight might have gone to either.

Hasegawafs coronation took five years and five months since his forfeiture of the WBC feather belt at the hand of Jhonny Gonzalez in April 2011. Hasegawa, 35 years and nine months, registered a new Japanese record of an oldest world championfs birth, surpassing ex-WBC 126-pound champ Takashi Koshimotofs mark of just 35 years.

Hasegawa became the fourth Japanese boxer who won three world belts in as many categories?following the footsteps of Koki Kameda in 2010, Kazuto Ioka in 2015 and Akira Yaegashi also in 2015. Many world champions out of Japan?current and former titlists?watched Hasegawafs third coronation and celebrated his upset victory.

The promoter Akihiko Honda also praised Hasegawafs triumph, saying, gItfs great that he changed his style at his age into smart outboxing to win this game.h

His father and former professional boxer Daijiro Hasegawa reportedly had advised his son to hang up gloves for good, but Hozumi went his way and thus made his dream come true. The father celebrated Hozumifs victory, gIt was a very tough fight, but he fought back when getting hit. He showed his heart to respond to his long-time fans.h

Hasegawafs dream was to make his son Hiroto, 13 and physically bigger than the father, lift him for celebration. Hiroto did it with pleasure in the ring. He said, gBecause of his reduction of weight I felt my Dad was light.h

But your fatherfs achievement was big enough.


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