Osaka – Spain’s Kiko Martinez retained his International Boxing Federation super-bantamweight title Wednesday by beating Japan’s challenger Hozumi Hasegawa with a technical knockout.
American referee Robert Byrd stopped the fight one minute and 20 seconds into the seventh round when Hasegawa was floored for the third time by the Spanish champion, who remained the aggressor throughout with one-two combinations.
It was the 28-year-old’s second defence of the title he won by knocking out Jonathan “Momo” Romero of Colombia last August in the 55.3-kg division.
The right-handed fighter now has 31 wins to his name, 23 of them inside the distance, against four losses.
Hasegawa, 33, who has previously held the World Boxing Council bantamweight and featherweight titles, failed to claim a championship belt in his first world title bout in three years.
His record slipped to 33 wins, 15 inside the distance, against five losses.
Martinez chased Hasegawa, the 13th IBF contender, and punished him with both hands at close range from the first round.
The Japanese southpaw fought back with counter punches led by right jabs.
The Spaniard, with tattoos on his body, forced Hasegawa against the ropes early in the second round and sent him to the canvas with a flurry of left and right blows for a count of eight.
In the fourth round, Hasegawa started bleeding from a cut on his right eyebrow and the fight was briefly stopped for first aid.
In the middle of the sixth round, the rampant Martinez was slapped with a one-point deduction for punching Hasegawa’s face when the referee tried to break them apart.
Hasegawa, his face swollen, slowed down in the seventh round and buckled after taking a left hook in a flurry of blows.
After a count of eight, another left hook knocked him down again and prompted the referee to stop the fight. – Sapa-AFP