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26 MAY 2018


Hugo Fidel Cazares: Extending His Reign By Avoiding Adversity

Cazares trainning in Bayamon
Cazares trainning in Bayamon

By Derek Bonnett: Professional prizefighters respond differently to winning a world championship. After all the elation and celebration has settled and the new champion begins to defend his title, that’s when boxing aficionados get to see what constructs the man’s constitution. Some champions get comfortable and fold early in their reign, as Jesse James Leija lamented in a lecture at the International Boxing Hall of Fame this summer. Others actually improve and go on to record greater and greater victories similarly to the recent success of Sergio Gabriel Martinez. Then there are those whom would do anything to remain champion: rise from a knockdown, endure the flow of their own blood, grimace through a broken jaw, or fight the safest available opposition to avoid adversity altogether. Hugo Fidel Cazares has opted for this last option.

Cazares, a two-division world champion, held the WBO 108 pound crown and defended it honorably against Alex Sanchez and Nelson Dieppa, whom he won it from previously in 2005. Then, he lost it nobly battling Ivan Calderon to a split decision defeat in 2007. He gave it another solid go against Calderon in 2008, but lost a technical decision. Cazares’ stock rose from those two performances against Calderon, probably more so than at any other time in his career. He then marched on to the 115 division to outpoint Roberto Vasquez in another career defining bout before being handed an unfair draw against Nobou Nashiro in the WBA champion’s homeland. Undeterred, Cazares returned to the scene of the crime less than a year later to dethrone the Japanese world champion cleanly and brought the title back to Mexico.

If the story ended there, there would be no cause for complaint. If Cazares continued his trend of fighting world class opposition, I might be honoring him right now instead. However, Cazares has made four title defenses in fourteen months and looks to make the fifth on August 31. The numbers aren’t the problem though, it’s the woefully undeserving and weak opposition Cazares has been matched with to run up his record and build his title reign. As of July, the WBA ranks Daiki Kameda, Denkaosan Kaovichit, Drian Francisco, Cesar Seda Jr., Oscar Ibarra, and Raul Martinez, all vastly more deserving contenders or former world champions, in their top ten. Along with several other world champions, Cazares was featured in a recent volume of Title Shots Here! Getcha’ Free Title Shots! for his defense against Arturo Badillo. Now, Cazares has earned the spotlight all to himself.

Next up for Cazares is Tomonobu Shimizu, 18-3-1 (9), who as of July was ranked fourth at flyweight. Shimizu has never defeated a 115 pounder with a winning record or of note and failed in two previous attempts at winning the WBC 112 pound title. How he got to either of those title shots is nearly as perplexing. All three of his losses have come by stoppage. Since his title fight loss to Daisuke Naito in 2008, Shimizu has stayed home and defended his regional title against soft opposition to build a 5-0-1 win-streak. Shimizu’s only win in 2011 came against Petchek Sithkorpolkanpim, whose record stood at 0-11 (10) after four rounds of action in April. How has Shimizu, who will meet Cazares on home soil, become a three-time world title challenger?

In Cazares’ July 2011 bout, he finished overmatched Arturo Badillo after three knockdowns in the third round. Prior to this, Badillo had fought one world class opponent in his career. That was a ninth round TKO loss to, once formidable 105 pounder, Ronald Barrera last year. Badillo built a three fight win-streak against Arcadio Salazar (6-4-2), Rodolfo Garay (27-18-1), and Ricardo Armenta (12-8-1). Salazar is in the midst of a six fight winless streak with five stoppage losses. Garay has been halted thirteen times. Armenta, who has been stopped seven times in nine losses, managed to drop Badillo in the second round before succumbing in the seventh. The man simply did not belong in a world title fight.

The Mexican champion’s previous defense in December 2010, which he won by wide decision, is probably his sternest, but far from what I would call venerable. Hiroyuki Histaka, 19-9-1 (8) after Cazares, had gone 4-5 over the previous four years. In this time he managed to beat a barely relevant Hussein Hussein in 2007 and more recently avenged a loss to the protected Panomroonglek Kaiyarn Hadaogym in 2010. The real mustard behind Histaka’s title shot was probably his split decision loss at 112 against then champion Denkaosan Kaovichit. Incidentally, Histaka also lost to Shimizu back in 2005. Like his countryman, Histaka also fought for the 112 pound title twice and received his third title opportunity against Cazares in Japan. Histaka is still ranked in the WBA’s top ten at 115 in spite of being 4-6 over his last ten.

Peru’s Albert Rossel, 25-8 (12), played beneficiary to Cazares’ second title defense. Even with my family’s Peruvian background, I cannot justify Rossel, 33, as a world title challenger. Rossel fought myriad champions and challengers in his career such as Vusi Malinga, Luis Alberto Lazarte, Brian Viloria, Ivan Calderon, and Daniel Reyes, but he never got the win. Rossel touched the canvas three times throughout his bout with Cazares, but what was really expected of him? In the three plus years after losing by TKO to Malinga, Rossel fought no one of note to run a six fight train of wins. Winless fighters and trial-horses are all Rossel could ever beat, which is why he proved to be a lightly regarded world title challenger for Cazares. Rossel has since rebounded with a second round TKO of Luis Trejo, 0-14-1. He previously decisioned Trejo in 2006.

After winning the title from Nashiro, Cazares met Everardo Morales in his first defense. Morales, 35, now stands at 34-17-2 (23). He has been stopped in three rounds or less in both of his post-Cazares appearances. Morales has also faced an impressive ensemble of world class opposition dating back to 1997 including Carlos Salazar, Omar Andres Narvaez, Jose Lopez, and Tomas Rojas among others. He never beat any of them, but in those years received a mind boggling five tries at various world titles. Rojas forced Morales into ninth round retirement one year prior to Cazares defeat of him. In the space between bouts, Morales built himself back up for title contention with wins over Ramon Pena (0-6-1) and Elvis Garcia (9-5-3). How this impressed anyone is beyond me.

The boxing world should be disappointed with Hugo Cazares taking on Tomonobu Shimizu on August 31, but not surprised. Cazares’ title reign has been a harbinger of low expectations. He’s built a 115 pound bum of the month club, not a championship legacy. Cazares loosely held onto his number one ranking at SecondsOut for a year while Omar Andres Narvaez and Tomas Rojas met other SecondsOut ranked fighters in their division. No longer. Both Narvaez and Rojas now appear higher than Cazares due to their greater efforts against world class opposition. The unbeaten Narvaez recently topped Cesar Seda Jr. and Rojas has revitalized his career with victories over Kohei Kono and Nashiro. Cazares cannot say nearly as much in regard to quality.

August 8, 2011

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