Dan Rafael: Hozumi Hasegawa

K. Martinez, Moreno defenses set

February, 5, 2014
World title bouts involving junior featherweight Kiko Martinez and bantamweight Anselmo Moreno are set.

Martinez co-promoters Sampson Lewkowicz and Gary Shaw announced last month that contracts had been signed with Teiken Promotions’ Akihiko Honda for Spain’s Martinez to make his second defense against former bantamweight and featherweight titlist Hozumi Hasegawa (33-4, 15 KOs) of Japan. The missing elements were the date and where in Japan the bout would take place.

On Wednesday, Shaw told ESPN.com that the bout will take place April 23 in Osaka.

Martinez (30-4, 22 KOs) has been a world traveler throughout his career. Japan will be the ninth country in which he will have fought.

Moreno (34-2-1, 12 KOs), the technical southpaw from Panama, will make the 12th defense of his 118-pound title against Argentina’s Javier Nicolas Chacon (19-1, 4 KOs) on March 22 at the Roberto Duran Arena in Panama City, Lewkowicz, Moreno’s promoter, told ESPN.com.

Moreno has held his world title since 2008, losing only a decision to Abner Mares in Los Angeles in November 2012 when he moved up to challenge for Mares' junior featherweight belt. Moreno returned to bantamweight after that fight and easily outpointed William Urina in Panama in August.

Malinga, Hall vie for vacant belt

December, 18, 2013
South Africa’s Vusi Malinga has twice before fought for a bantamweight world title. Neither went very well for him.

In 2009, he got knocked out in the first round by then-titleholder Hozumi Hasegawa in Japan. In 2012, he lost a near-shutout decision to Leo Santa Cruz in a fight for a vacant belt.

Now he is getting a third chance when he faces England’s Stuart Hall for a vacant belt on Saturday night (BoxNation in Great Britain) at the First Direct Arena in Leeds, England.

Even though Malinga (21-4-1, 12 KOs), 34, lost in his two world title bouts, he is a step up for Hall (15-2-1, 7 KOs), 33, who has won three in a row.

“I can’t believe that the time is near at hand,” Hall said. “I’ve been working and preparing for this opportunity for so long and to get the chance of getting my hands on a world title is a dream come true. I’m ready for this fight and whatever it takes, even if it means going through hell and back, then I’m willing to do that. I have everything in my favor and feel this is my time now. I want to go out there and do myself and the country proud."

Hall lost to his best opponent, a decision to Jamie McDonnell in a 2011 European bantamweight title fight in September 2011. McDonnell later claimed a world title but was stripped. Malinga and Hall will be fighting for that vacant belt.

“When you get to this level every fight and every fighter presents a new challenge,” Hall said. “I have shared the ring with some skilled and crafty fighters on my route here and know that Malinga is not coming over here to lie down.

“He’s going to do everything to make sure he goes back home with the belt, but I believe I’m going to have too much for him. My will and my drive for this fight is unbelievable and I’ve done some really excellent work to get me ready and in shape for this fight. Malinga is going to see the best Stuart Hall in there, one who is ready to do that bit extra in everything. I’m going for the knockout and believe I can get it because I don’t want to leave anything to chance and I want to take the decision out of the judges’ hands.”

If Hall wins, he said he would be happy to fight McDonnell, also from England, again.

“Of course, I would like to fight McDonnell again in the future,” Hall said. “Our fight was very close and I believe I have grown and learned so much from then. My aim is to get this world title first and foremost on Saturday and then I can look down the line. A rematch with McDonnell definitely appeals to me. It would be a huge domestic fight, particularly if there is world title on the line.”

Martinez-Burgos could steal show

January, 17, 2013
Rocky MartinezChris Farina/Top RankRocky Martinez and Saturday's opponent, Juan Carlos Burgos, are a pair of crowd-pleasers.
On paper, at least, HBO has put together an excellent tripleheader to kick off its year of boxing coverage. In my view, all three fights -- which are being put on in a joint promotion by Top Rank and K2 Promotions -- should produce action.

The main event on Saturday night (HBO, 9:45 ET/PT) at the Madison Square Garden Theater in New York will pit featherweight titlist Orlando Salido against Mikey Garcia. The co-feature will match middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin (one of the most crowd-pleasing fighters in boxing) against Gabriel Rosado.

As interesting as those two fights are -- and they are both very compelling -- I think that the opener, which will match junior lightweight titlist Roman "Rocky" Martinez (26-1-1, 16 KOs) and mandatory challenger Juan Carlos Burgos (30-1, 20 KOs), has a chance to steal the show.

The fight, a classic matchup of Puerto Rico (Martinez) versus Mexico (Burgos), is the least-publicized of the three bouts, but it could wind up being the best.

Martinez has been in some very good fights. When he lost his junior lightweight belt via decision to Ricky Burns in Scotland in 2010, it was a tremendous battle. And when Martinez reclaimed his old belt (which Burns had vacated) in September in a bloody split-decision slugfest with Miguel Beltran Jr., it was a legit candidate for the fight of the year. In fact, aside from the epic 12th round of the Sergio Martinez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. main event, that Martinez-Beltran fight basically stole the show.

Martinez said he will be even better for this fight than he was in the tough fight with Beltran.

"We have been working hard for this fight against Burgos because we know he is a good fighter and slick," Martinez said. "But I'm better than for the fight against Miguel Beltran. We have a plan for this fight, but we are ready for all Burgos brings.

"I learned a lot in my last fight against Beltran. After that fight, I went right back to the gym and haven't stopped training since."

Burgos (30-1, 20 KOs) is on a nice run and has also been in crowd-pleasing fights. In his past three bouts, Burgos bumped off undefeated Puerto Rican Luis Cruz in what many considered an upset; he clearly outpointed former featherweight titlist Cristobal Cruz; and in July, Burgos destroyed undefeated Cesar Vazquez in the third round.

Burgos is a mandatory challenger who actually deserves his title shot because of his results, not just good connections. Also, his only loss -- a decision -- came at the hands of Hozumi Hasegawa in a 2010 vacant featherweight world title fight in Japan. Hasegawa won the fight, and deservedly so, but it was a very, very good scrap.

Now Burgos is getting his second title shot, and he doesn't plan to let it go by the wayside.

"I don't want to let this opportunity get away from me," he said. "I have been in this position before when I faced Hasegawa and I know I could've done much better that night. It could have been a life-changing victory for me, but I let that one get away. Not this time. I have grown mentally and physically, and I am prepared for a fight like this and I know it will be exciting.

"Not only do I want to get the victory and be a champion, but I want to please the crowd and make sure that the fans get their money's worth."

Burgos ready for next title shot

September, 28, 2012
Juan Carlos Burgos Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesJuan Carlos Burgos seems to be ready to challenge Roman Martinez for the junior lightweight title.

Juan Carlos Burgos has had one title shot so far, but lost that featherweight challenge to Hozumi Hasegawa by decision in a terrific 2010 battle.

Since then, Burgos moved up to junior lightweight and stamped himself as a quality contender in that weight class by winning five fights in a row, including handing Luis Cruz (W10) and Cesar Vazquez (TKO3) their first professional defeats.

Mexico’s Burgos (30-1, 20 KOs) is ready to fight for a world title again and he will get the shot as the mandatory challenger for 130-pound titlist Roman “Rocky” Martinez of Puerto Rico.

According to Burgos’ co-promoters, Banner Promotions and Thompson Boxing, the WBO has ordered Martinez to make the mandatory defense against Burgos next.
Martinez (26-1-1, 16 KOs) claimed the vacant belt via split decision victory against Mexico’s Miguel Beltran Jr. in a slugfest that served as the HBO PPV co-feature to the Sergio Martinez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. middleweight championship fight on Sept. 15.

"I am ready for Rocky Martinez,” Burgos said. “He showed his ability on his fight against Beltran Jr., and was the deserving of the title. But I'm ready to challenge him for it.”

Burgos said he would get the job done this time after falling short against Hasegawa.

"I won't let this one get away from me,” he said. “I want to fulfill my destiny with the WBO belt around my waist. I just need to know the date so I can prepare to go to war with Martinez.”

Burgos’ knockout of Vazquez on ESPN2 in July was as impressive as any of his recent wins.

“Juan Carlos has shown that he is more than ready for this opportunity,” Banner Promotions chief Artie Pelullo said. “He has defeated the best at 130 pounds and we are very confident that he will defeat Martinez in what should be a fabulous fight. This will be another classic fight between Puerto Rican and Mexican fighters.”