Hozumi Hasegawa vs Hugo Ruiz & Shinsuke Yamanaka vs Anselmo Moreno
BY KID HERSH
From EDION Arena in Osaka Japan came a pair of title fights from the small men division limits that was aired on beIN. First up was Shinsuke Yamanaka (25-0-2, 17KO's) vs Anselmo Moreno (36-4-1, 12KO's). The first round was a thriller right off the bat as Moreno came out and landed 1-2 combinations that snapped the champions head back violently. Yamanaka looked a bit buzzed but he bought time by taking some steps back and circling a bit - which is easy to do on Moreno who likes his guys to come to him. He recovered and near the very end of the round landed a brutal left hand to Moreno who came in leading with an uppercut and leaving his chin fully exposed for the left hook. He went to the canvas but made it through the round as there was very little time left for Yamanaka to go for the kill. Both men were swinging for the fences in the second round, not content with trying to box. Moreno landed a couple more straight left hands flush on Yamanaka but they were being taken very well and so it was a bit perplexing to me that Moreno was relying on power instead of boxing. Moreno looked very slow of hand and his legs looked pretty bad to me in the third round and perhaps Yamanaka saw the same thing as he got very aggressive in the fourth round. He was landing good shots and pushing Moreno backwards when nearing the end of the round he got caught with a right hook that sent him to the canvas. he rose but was noticeably hurt. He made it through the round though despite Moreno catching him with a few more shots. Moreno just isn't a finisher. He really took it to the champion in the fifth round, nailing him with his best shots as Yamanaka did not have an answer for them. The referee may have missed a knockdown a little over midway through the round when Moreno landed a hard right hand that sent Yamanaka hurt and off balance backwards, with him extending his left arm down towards the canvas to seemingly regain control. The whole sequence was so fast that it is actually hard to tell if it was a legitimate knockdown or not but it sure looked like the glove held up up or on balance. In the sixth round we had more fireworks when right as Moreno was outboxing his man Yamanaka landed a massive bomb of a left hand that sounded like a gun shot going off on Moreno's chin. The shot put Moreno on his rear and looked like it was going to be the end of the fight. But, to my surprise, Moreno got up off the canvas on wobbly legs and bought time like the veteran he is. I don't like using the word lucky in boxing but that seemed like about as close to the usage of the word in the sport as you will get with Yamanaka landing that beauty of a left hand over Moreno's jab to completely turn this fight around yet again. Moreno made it through the round with his caginess but he did not fully recover and it was in the very next round that Moreno would get blasted by another left hand that sent him to the canvas. He got up and wanted to fight further but his body was not with his mind and the fight was stopped when he was put down again for the final time. It is the first stoppage loss of his career and the biggest win of Yamanaka's. Yamanaka isn't exactly a polished fighter and while this was a very fun fight to watch I cannot help but think that he got a bit lucky here and this would not be the result for the majority of times if these fighters were to square off.
Next up was the main event featuring Hugo Ruiz (36-3, 32KO's) defending his WBC title against Hozumi Hasegawa (35-5, 15KO's). The first round action was slow until an accidental clash of heads caused the referee to nefariously deduct a point from Hasegawa, who clearly did not intentionally hit Ruiz with his head as both men were going in at the same time for a punch. Both men were swinging for the fences in the second round as they tried to time each other out in between the other mans punches. Hasegawa seemed to be getting the better of the exchanges despite being the smaller and lighter hitting man on paper. The southpaw vs orthodox matchup was causing problems again in the third round when again they clashed heads and had to have the doctor take a look at Ruiz who was visibly upset at the second bad clash of heads leaving him bleeding yet again. Hasegawa was pushing Ruiz around the ring by the end of the round which is pretty surprising to me. Ruiz is also tentative to throw punches thus far, although that would change somewhat in the next round. In the fourth Ruiz was finally unloading his right hand more but it is also obvious that he is loading up on it as he cocks it back and intensely stares his man down waiting to unload it. This made it pretty easy to tip off for Hasegawa who is faster of foot and hand as he was able to elude it enough to not get caught flush by it. In the fifth round Hasegawa started to really go to work on Ruiz's nose, which has very slowly been looking a bit worse since the first round accidental clash of heads. By the end of the fifth round the nose was bleeding profusely from Hasegawa's quick attacks that Ruiz was too slow to thwart off. Ruiz's corner got the blood stopped and he came out in the sixth round looking like a man on a mission as he managed to land of the right hands that he has desperately been looking to land and do damage to Hasegawa with. Unfortunately the right hand did not have the effect that Ruiz was hoping it would. The fighters clashed heads again near the end of the seventh round and mysteriously, yet again, the referee decided to deduct a point from an accidental head clash - this time blaming Ruiz, perhaps in an attempt to even out the scales on ridiculous point deductions. By the end of the eighth round both fighters were bleeding from cuts caused by head butts. In the ninth round we had ourselves a contender for round of the year when Ruiz hurt Hasegawa with a body shot that backed him into the ropes. Ruiz, ever the finisher, went for the kill with everything he had - unloading all of his power and energy into taking Hasegawa out. Hasegawa bobbed and weaved though, taking some shots while parrying or slipping others, and started throwing power punches of his own in an attempt to hurt the man that was intent on taking him out and seeing red at the moment. Ruiz was stuck in a trance-like state of power punching and Hasegawa went to that area with him, blasting away power punches with his back on the ropes. The tactic - or should I call it instinct - worked and eventually Ruiz had no choice but to back up and give ground due to taking tons of damage himself. His face was a swollen bloody mess by the end of the round in what was likely the round of the year in my book so far. Ruiz would not answer the bell for the tenth round which would give Hasegawa his third weight class world title and an amazing win with the fashion in which it happened after it looked like Ruiz was going to take him out in the ninth round. Wow!