Today Masuda (23-7, 12) was looking to earn a chance to reclaim the Japanese title as he took on the under-rated Hideo Sakamoto (16-2-3, 5) at the Strongest Korakuen. The winner of the bout was to become the mandatory challenger for the national title and, in theory at least, earn a shot at Omori, who is actually expected to vacate the title in the near future.
On paper the bout was a good looking one and in the ring to be just as good as hoped though it wasn't as competitive as expected with Masuda taking charge early and eventually wearing down the gutsy but out muscled Sakamoto.
Early on Masuda drew blood from his foe, busting Sakamoto's nose. Despite being the short man the former champion seemed to impose himself with ease behind his jab and aggressiveness and he was coming away on top from the exchanges. The power and strength of Masuda was taking it's toll and in round 7 he dropped Sakamoto with a barrage of shots. A tired Sakamoto tried to get to his feet but was quickly saved from more punishment.
For Sakamoto this defeat will be a hard one to come back from, though may well see him moving up a weight, as he did look gaunt at the weigh in. For Masuda however it'll be a victory to savour and will see him getting a well deserved title shot next year, likely for a vacant title.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)