Aged 31 Hosokawa is having the run of his career with a 6-0-1 (2) streak against some solid names, like Patomsuk Pathompothong, Tadashi Yuba, Laurente and a draw with Yuki Nonaka. Given that he was, once, 11-6-3 (2) Hoskawa really has forged a solid career for himself and has claimed both the Japanese and the OPBF title at 154lbs.
The champion debuted back in 2002 and although he won his debut he quickly racked up losses falling to 2-3 within 18 months of his debut. Despite those setbacks, and others that left him with a record of 9-6 and later the 11-6-3 record mentioned above, he kept ploughing on, refusing to give up on his dreams. In 2011 he eventually got his first title bout, but was stopped by Makoto Fuchigami in a Japanese Middleweight title bout, before dropping back down to find his natural weight. Since losing to Fuchigami we've seen Hosokawa lose just once, and winning 10 of his 12 bouts. That loss, for those wondering, came to Akio Shibata who wasn't a bad fighter himself.
In the ring Hosokawa isn't anything special. We don't mean that in a harsh way either. He's not the fastest, the most powerful, the best mover or the strongest. What he is however is true worker and he will always give his all. It's that hard work that has seen him become the fighter he is today and it's that same hard work that sees him being such a frustrating fighter to face. He moves a lot, he throws a far bit, he stands up to opponents who want to try and impose themselves on him and given his southpaw stance he's also a bit extra awkward.
Whilst Hosokawa has built his resume following an awful start the same cannot be said for Saito. The worst the challenger's record has ever been was 5-2 (3) and whilst his record was never bad he has never been able to “get over the line” in a big one, with a 0-5 record in title bouts. The first of those title bout defeats came in 2009, when he was stopped by Daisuke Nakagawa whilst other defeats at that level have come to Akinori Watanabe, Suyon Takayama, twice, and Yuki Nonaka. He has also been stopped by the ever dangerous Arnel Tinampay back in December 2014.
Due to those losses Saito will be entering this bout 3-3 in his last 6, with defeats to Takayama, Tinampay and Nonaka and wins over Koki Koshikawa, Takehiro Shimokawara and a visiting Thai novice in what was just a stay busy bout.
In the ring Saito is another worker, but one who has shown durability issues in recent times. He has shown a perhaps questionable ability when he gets his big chances and we suspect we'll see that issue arise here,especially given that he's now 37. At his best he was a good title contender, but we suspect his best has been and gone, and whilst he could pose Hosokawa some problems we can't see him winning, even though this will almost certainly be his last big opportunity.
We suspect Hosokawa's relative freshness will be the difference and the champion will retain with a clear, but hard earned, decision in an engaging but not thrilling contest.