Hasegawa defends WBC bantamweight title

Earns fourth-run KO against Nicaraguan challenger; moves win shy of Gushiken's record


WBC bantamweight champion Hozumi Hasegawa stopped Nicaraguan challenger Alvaro Perez in the fourth round Friday to defend his title for the 10th time.

Hasegawa placed himself alone in second on the Japanese all-time list for consecutive title defenses behind Yoko Gushiken, who defended his WBA light flyweight crown 13 times.

The Japanese champion tagged Perez with a hard left that buckled the ninth-ranked fighter’s knees before the referee called an end to the bout at 2:38 of the fourth round at Kobe World Memorial Hall.

It was the fifth straight knockout for Hasegawa, one fewer than Gushiken’s record sixth. He improved to a record of 28 wins, 12 KOs, with two defeats.

“I wasn’t just aiming for a knockout but I trained to go 12 rounds in this fight. Of course, I’m proud to have retained my title for the 10th time but I just see this as a transition point,” said Hasegawa.

Hasegawa bobbed and weaved his way around a feisty Perez, who put the pressure on early with a relentless attack.

“I would like to become No. 1 but I also think about making a fresh challenge or following a different direction. For now anyway, I am relieved that I could defend the title.”

Hasegawa, who turned 29 on Wednesday, has said he would like to pursue his boxing career in the United States and possibly aim for a title in a different weight category.

“Hasegawa is a great champion with a hard punch,” Perez said. “I knew the match was over when he hit me with that punch and my legs just stopped moving. I wasn’t able to move as instructed by my corner.”