As Eric Morel is unable to enter Japan due to his criminal record in the United States, Hozumi Hasegawa has found a new opponent for his December 18 bantamweight title defense in Kobe. Nicaraguan Alvaro Perez (18-1-1, 12 KO) will be the challenger for Hasegawa's WBC title.
I didn't think Morel had much of a chance with Hasegawa, and I know for sure that Perez doesn't. The 26-year old Perez has fought just once outside of his home country, and that came in 2005 in Panama. His loss came to William Gonzalez, who knocked him out in the fifth. You may remember Gonzalez from a tough 2008 fight with Joseph Agbeko.
Agbeko, by the way, recently commented on Hasegawa in a press release leading up to his October 31 fight with Yonnhy Perez on Showtime. Said Agbeko of Hasegawa, "After I beat Yonnhy, there's this coward in Japan named Hozumi I want to beat."
Hasegawa-Agbeko would almost certainly have to happen in Japan, but it'd be great if Hasegawa would take the leap and come to the States. His promoters might not allow for that, but one thing I'm hoping that Chris John's long overdue arrival in the U.S. this year will do is influence other fighters of that stature to make their way over. I'm not saying Hasegawa or anyone else needs to fight in the States to be considered good or even great fighters, but it helps.
Agbeko also better be focused entirely on Perez, who's a 100% legitimate challenger. Perez is one of those fighters with zero fear, plus he's got real power, and we know what Agbeko can do. That's a great looking fight for Saturday.