Every country gets bad decisions, some more than others. Often those bad decisions are in international bouts with a local fighter beating an import courtesy of questionable scorecards. It's less common to see a domestic title fight end with a robbery but today that certainly seemed to be the case today as Hiroki Okada (14-0, 10) [岡田 博喜] scored a very fortunate defense of his Japanese 140lb title, with a wide decision over Valentine Hosokawa (20-6-3, 9) [細川バレンタイン].
On paper the bout looked a straight forward win for the unbeaten Okada, who was making his 6th defense of the title. He was a vaunted puncher going up against a man who had been stopped in 2 of his 5 losses, both in title fights, and the 35 year old Hosokawa had been out worked last time out by novice Noriaki Sato. And if you look at the scores for the bout it also looked like a straight forward defense for Okada, with the judges scoring the bout 99-91 and 98–92, twice, for Okada. The reality however was that Valentine Hosokawa was given no credit for his work, which really was enough to claim the win.
From the opening round it was clear Hosokawa was up for the fight, taking the action to Okada from the opening seconds and forcing Okada on to the back foot. Okada had moments, using his jab and right hand with good success, but never managed to gain Hosokawa's respect as the challenger marched forward and out worked the champion, switching between head and body and forcing Okada to back track.
Round after round Hosokawa's pressure forced the action and troubled the champion, who was hurt on multiple occasions. At the end of round 3 the pressure seemed to have Okada doubting himself in his corner and although the champion seemed to have a good round 4 it was another that saw Hosokawa force the action and have a great finish. If any of the first 5 rounds was Okada's it was that 4th round as Hosokawa came roaring back in the following round and seemed to be clearly leading at the mid way point. Sadly the judges didn't agree, some how having the bout 50-45, twice, and 49-46 to Okada, with some raising their eye brows at the open scoring.
Knowing he was well behind on the cards Hosokawa seemed to have gas thrown on the fire and he fought round 6 even hard than he'd fought the previous rounds, being in Okada's face through out and giving the champion a really tough time, whilst Okada did little offensively. The success of round 6 bred more success and Hosokawa grew more through rounds 7 and 8 as Okada became progressively more negative.
It seemed going into round 9 that Hosokawa could actually end up breaking down the champion and he continued his pursuit of a now tiring Okada, who had success with his shots during the round but was being out landed through out by a challenger who knew that he had to throw everything at the champion. That same mentality showed in round 10 with Hosokawa looking to land huge hooks on Okada who finally responded by going to toe toe with Hosokawa.
Sadly for the challenger the judges seemed to be against him from the off and it would have taken a knockout for him to win. It seemed the judges liked something that Okada did, but the reality is that the champion was very lucky to retain his title and fans in the venue even question their own eye sight at one point.
For Okada this was a second disappointing performance, along with July's technical decision win over Cristiano Aoqui, but it has seen him record his 6th defense. For Hosokawa this was a third defeat in a title bout, and at 35 it's likely to be his final title opportunity, unless he face Koichi Aso next year for the title that we're expecting to see Okada vacate.
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