By Bobby Mac
Two of today’s most fearsome banties will be battling in Tokyo, Japan this Friday in as compelling a fight as can be made today.
Fernando Montiel is becoming something of a Mexican legend with a title record of 16-2, 12 KO in 3 WBO sanctioned divisions which is outstanding when you throw in his career record of 40-2-2, 30 KO, yet only just turned 31.
This little fella can crack, let me tell you, and he can box, never having been beaten cleanly. His only two losses came by majority decision and split decision in title fights. Unfortunately, the fly and banty divisions get little notice or airtime in America where I live, so I’ve only been able to follow his career fitfully against overmatched journeymen on Telefutura back when, but I was quite fortunate to catch his 4 rd demolition of a very good Martin Castillo a couple years back.
Montiel’s last defense against Ciso Morales was against a young unproven fringe contender that did nothing to prepare him for his first ever title fight outside the WBO organization when he goes against a 29 yr old aspiring Japanese legend, Hozumi Hasegawa.
Hasegowa can now be said to be a star in Japan, rising rapidly through the tough Japanse ranks. At 28-2, 12 KO, his record looks sparse upon first glance compared to Montiel, but in this case, looks are very deceiving as regards to him which I suspect is a large reason for his success in the ring.
His only two losses were against undefeated prospects in 4 rounders ages ago. He had 4 title OPBF title wins before winning his WBC banty title 5 yrs ago against a superior Veeraphol Sahaprom before reeling off 10 straight WBC title defenses with 6 K0. Five of those knockouts came in his last 5 defenses. Only one was able to make it past the 2nd round, but he was gone by the 4th round.
That is some seriously harsh treatment of some very fine contenders by a physically very imposing fighter at this weight class. He’s listed at 5-6 to Montiel’s 5-4, but is ripped to shreds and gives the impression of being several divisions above banty. Indeed, he wants to move up but decided to set a Japanese record for consecutive title defenses at one weight, which if patchy memory serves, he only needs 2 more successful defenses.
With Montiel fighting primarily in Mexico and Hasegowa in Japan, it would’ve been real easy for these little bombers to avoid each other, but they didn’t. Further, Montiel will be the guest fighter in Hasegowa’s home base, Hozumi having never fought outside of Japan, so Fernando deserves super props for going on the road. Think about it though, he’s doing exactly what we expect a Mexican legend to be doing.
This is not a hostile environment though. The Japanese boxing fans are as savvy and appreciative as any of the history of the fight game and love great fighters, so Montiel should be well received by a public panting in anticipation of a classic international doozy. How lucky they are and how I wish I could be ringside taking it all in. Oh to be Joe Koizumi for the day, the IBHOF quality Japanese matchmaker, manager, and journalist who will have unfettered access to the fight and fighters.
Alas, me being me, I have to do primarily with his reports and the record of Hasegawa, though I have seen a couple of his last fights that are poor examples of what Fernando Montiel brings to this fight.
Perhaps Veeraphol Sahaprom has the closest attributes of Montiel in size and quality. Hasegawa won a unanimous decision and a KO in those matches early in his title run, and he’s clearly a better fighter, seemingly improving every year since he turned pro.
Montiel dropped a split decision to a very good version of Jhonny Gonzales a few years back. Johnny was a tallish boxer/puncher champ at banty like Hasegawa.
There is an additional factor at play. Hasegawa is a lefty, and lefties with power are generally considered the most dangerous of boxing.
From what I see, both are patient boxers who know each can bang, so this should start cautiously. I’d pick a bob and weave and jab inside for Montiel and then throw short rights, short hooks, and uppercuts like Mike Tyson used to do against tall opponents. Take away Hasegawa’s reach advantage and seize control of the fight.
Hasegawa doesn’t appear to be one to fluster, however, part of the reason he’s likely to be the favorite in this bout. I’m predicting he will carefully pick his shots and outwork the game Montiel from a distance. There will be some firefight type of exchanges, and a KO is possible, but probably only for the intimidating Hasegowa, but bet at your own risk at this level of quality. Neither of these fighters’ chances can be dismissed out of hand regardless of selection.
May have to search around to find the feed before or after the fight, but I’m confident it will be worth it.