Hosokawa claimed the first round but Saito quickly took the lead on the cards, securing a 10-8 round in the second, with a knockdown, and he built on that success by claiming round 3 before Hosokawa began to fight his way back into the contest. Given the 10-8 round Saito was understandably leading on the cards when the bout first had the scores announced, with all 3 judges scoring 38-37 in favour of the challenger.
Hosokawa's fight back saw him claim round 4, and 5 to take a narrow lead as we went into the mid way point of the bout. The fight back had shown Hosokawa's will to win and determination but a second knockdown by Saito, in round 8, meant the challenger was back in the lead when the scores were publicly announced for the second time in the fight, with all 3 cards reading 76-74 to Saito.
Knowing he was behind, and risking both his title and his #3 IBF world rankings, Hosokawa upped his work load and went for it, doing enough to claim 3 of the 4 rounds on two of the scores cards to secure a majority decision draw, with two cards of 113-113, which over-came the 115-111 scorecard in favour of Saito.
After the fight Hosokawa mentioned that he had been ill in the build up to the fight. Whilst that might explain the poor performance the reality is that he was very lucky to retain his title and given his high IBF ranking coming in to this one, we wouldn't be shocked to see him fall down the rankings, and perhaps move away from getting a long awaited world title bout. For Saito we suspect he'll be chasing a world title fight, sadly however he is now 0-5-1 in title fights and at 37 years old he may well be out of time to get that 7th shot at a title.
For fans interested in watching this bout, it will be aired on boxingraise tomorrow.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)