The former champion was up against novice professional Masanori Rikiishi (2-1, 1) [力石 政法], who was taking a huge step up in class, and the experience difference really showed as Rikiishi was stopped in just 2 rounds and was made to look like he didn't belong in the same ring as Saka.
Riikishi struck first, using his height and reach to to land a straight left. Sadly though it wasn't long until Saka got inside, and managed to land his power shots, which tested Rikiishi's durability. Sadly for Rikiishi he was unable to survive the power of Saka and was dropped in round 2 by a right hand.
To his credit Rikiishi did get back to his feet but a follow up from Saka forced the referee to stop the bout with Rikiishi taking punishment.
Whilst the match making was brave and adventurous from Rikiishi there will be many asking why his team put him in such a big step up at this early point in his career. He seemed confident and like he wanted the bout, but it was a massive step up. This isn't the end for him by any stretch, but it is clearly a massive learning experience and something he and his team will need to use as a lesson going forward.
As for Saka he seems intent on becoming a 2-time Japanese champion and now has his eyes on reclaiming a Japanese title.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)