Saito took the fight to Kato straight from the off though unfortunately for the challenger it was nothing the champion hadn't seen before and rather than being intimidated Kato fought back well, often using Saito's aggression against him and in fact Kato dropped Saito in round 4 with a counter.
The composure of Kato really was the difference between the two men early on and after 5 rounds Kato found himself comfortably in the lead on the score cards. Unfortunately for the challenger not only was he falling behind on the cards but he was also being broken down mentally and physically.
At the end of round 7 a tired looking Saito returned to his corner. He had been game but was starting to look like a man who knew he was heading towards a loss. It was no surprise that Kato picked up the attack in round 8 and finally forced the referee to stop the bout with Saito looking like a man who had given his all.
Whilst this was Saito's title fight it was Kato's second successive stoppage and his second defence this year and there is some talk about him possibly defending once more before the year is out with a bout between Kato and Nihito Arakawa now being spoken about. If We do get an Arakawa/Kato bout it would be a third meeting between the two men who currently hold a win a piece over the other man.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)