Fernando Montiel stuns Hozumi Hasegawa with fourth round stoppage

In a fight where Hozumi Hasegawa was pitching a shutout and making underdog Fernando Montiel look outclassed in Tokyo, a huge left hand and a pouncing flurry of punches suddenly and stunningly turned the tide at the end of round four, forcing referee Laurence Cole to step in for the stoppage, giving Montiel the WBC bantamweight title to go with his WBO belt.

Montiel (41-2-2, 31 KO) looked tentative, tight and jerky for the first three-plus rounds. He was consistently coming in too far when he charged, missing wild punches, and was being consistently walked down by Hasegawa. Hasegawa wasn't landing a ton, and wasn't landing big, difference-making punches, but the Japanese titlist was rather easily dominating the fight.

Then, it all changed in the blink of an eye. This is a massive win for Montiel, and the best of his career. It's a devastating loss for Hasegawa (28-3, 12 KO), but not one that will really hurt his standing, I don't think. There have been rumblings over the years that he's struggled to make 118 pounds, so perhaps a move to 122 would be worthwhile. There are plenty of good challenges there, and one I'd personally love to see is Hasegawa against Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym.

Maybe it was all a ploy from Montiel. His tightness could easily suggest that he was simply waiting for a big opening. He certainly swung and missed on wild efforts often enough to back that up. When he landed one, it was curtains.

Montiel will now move on to face either Eric Morel or Jorge Arce. It could be Morel straight off, as Morel lined himself up with a win over Gerry Penalosa earlier this year. But Arce has been inserted into the mix, as Top Rank has been said to be putting together a Morel-Arce fight for June 26. The winner would likely get Montiel if that happens.

A hell of a start to a big, big weekend of boxing.

In the co-feature from Tokyo, 122-pound titlist Toshiaki Nishioka retained his WBC belt with a fifth round stoppage of a game but overmatched Balweg Bangoyan. Nishioka improves to 36-4-3 (23 KO), while Bangoyan falls to 15-1 (6 KO).

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