Hasegawa is at the head of a resurgent Japanese boxing scene. The WBC Bantamweight Champion since April of 2005, Hasegawa may be the best bantamweight in the world and making a solid run into the upper pantheon of great all-time Japanese champions. The southpaw has captivated Japanese fight fans with his incredible speed, ring smarts, and growing power.
Hasegawa turned pro at the age 18 and suffered two decision losses in his first five bouts. He was soon able to right the ship and run off a string of consecutive victories. By 2003, he had established himself as a top bantamweight on the competitive Asian boxing scene. Following a win over well-regarded Jun Toriumi, he was poised to tackle formidable Thai Veeraphol Sahaprom.
New WBC Bantamweight Champion!
Sahaprom had deep credentials. In fifty bouts, his only loss had been a decision defeat in a world title bid in his fifth bout. He had been champion for seven years and was a decided favorite over Hasegawa. But the young upstart used his speed and mobility to frustrate the less-mobile Sahaprom, winning a close unanimous decision.
Many thought the fight was a fluke, so following an easy defense over Gerardo Martinez he took on Sahaprom again. This time there was no doubt, as a right hook from the southpaw stance put the durable Sahaprom on his face for a ninth-round stoppage. By twice beating an established champion, Hasegawa established himself as a top dog in the bantamweight division.
Title Reign and Recent Explosive Form
Hasegawa has made nine defenses. Incredibly, Hasegawa has needed only 6 rounds to dispatch of his last four challengers. His last two challengers, Vusi Malinga and Nestor Rocha (two talented contenders) were each KO’d in one round. Four fights ago, Hasegawa sat at 23-2 with only 7 KO’s and did not seem to be capable of such a power surge. What followed was simply extraordinary, and international fight fans have begun to take notice.
Hasegawa, 27-2 (11), will make his 10th defense against Alvaro Perez on December 18. In 2010, he hopes to take on some of the better bantamweights in the world. We will have to wait and see if geographical and political snags block unification matches against Yonnhy Perez, Anselmo Perez, or Fernando Montiel. For his part, Hasegawa has stated his willingness to travel in order to make big fights.