Earlier today at the Arena Tachikawa Tachihi we saw fans finally return to boxing for an event in the Kanto region. Whilst the show wasn't a massive one it was a notable one, not just for the fans, who had some really stringent rules on what they were allowed to do, but also for some of the fighters on the card. The event had two separate Japanese ranked fighters on it, and both of those were looking to move towards a potential Japanese title fight.
The first of those in action was #18 ranked Lightweight Shinnosuke Saito (7-3, 2)[齋藤 眞之助], who took a decision over active police officer Yuji Hashimoto (6-5, 4) [橋本 祐二], in a 6 rounder.
Saito, who won Rookie of the Year last year, was too busy and too active for Hashimoto, who looked rusty following a 13 year break from the ring. Hashimoto tried, and looked to make the most of his southpaw stance, but wasn't able to up the tempo, as Saito did in round 3. Saito again stepped on the gas in round 5 and in round 6 ending any doubt in regards to the bout.
After 6 rounds we went to the judges who all had Saito the winner, with scored of 59-55.
The second ranked fighter on the show was JBC #3 ranked Minimumweight Hizuki Saso (12-6-2, 4) [佐宗 緋月] who took on Yuni Takada (8-5-2, 3) [高田 勇仁] over 8 rounds in the main event. This turned out to be a lot, lost more competitive than the other bout, with Takada holding his own and earning a surprise draw against Saso, who is on the verge of a Japanese title fight.
From the off Takada pressed forward and Saso was forced to counter. Saso seemed to be dropped in round 2, though it was ruled a slip, as Takada's pressure continued to control the action. On the resumption from Saso going down he was rocked and forced to hold on, having a point deducted in the end for holding.
To his credit Saso bounced back well in round 3, doing enough to take the round, but he continued to struggle with Takada's pressure and work rate until the later stages, when Takada slowed down and Saso put his foot on the gas, with a gritty fight back. That fight back was enough to squeak Saso a split decision draw.
The scorecards for this were a bit all over the way. On one card Saso won 75-74, on another Takada won 77-75 and on the third score was 75-75.
Saso can feel himself very lucky to escape with the draw and Takada should feel hard done by here. His performance was solid and deserved more, and he should take the performance, and result, as a real confident booster going for ward.
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