The bout had the feel of a possible upset, something we suspected may happen in our preview, though didn't quite end up with the title changing hands. Despite that Nonaka was pushed hard.
Early on the champion established himself behind his jab and his movement. He looked like he was going to have a comfortable night and when the cards were announced after round 5 it seemed he was well on the way to an easy defense, especially given that Saito had been deducted a point for a headbutt.
In the second half however Saito came on strong, forcing Nonaka on to the back foot whilst looking to knock the champion out. Sadly for the challenger it was too little too late to over-turn the deficit, however he did manage to make the cards close with one judge giving Nonaka the win by a point, 95-94, whilst another had it 97-95 to the champion. The remaining judge had it wider at 97-93.
Nonaka admitted that he wasn't at his best, though in fairness to Saito it seems that he came to fight and very nearly turned things around. Sadly though for the challenger this was his 5th loss in a title bout and he is still with out a win in a "big one". As for Nonaka, this was a third successful defense of his crown.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)