By Joe Koizumi
Former champ Koji Sato (15-1, 13 KOs), 160, Japan, regained the OPBF middleweight belt as he earned a close but unanimous decision (116-113 twice and 115-113) over defending titlist Tetsuya Suzuki (23-8, 15 KOs), 159.75, a compatriot southpaw peek-a-boo stylist, over twelve hard-fought rounds on Sunday in Osaka, Japan. Sato had to automatically forfeit his OPBF belt due to the OPBF rules and regulations before he had an ambitious but unsuccessful crack at the WBA 160-pound belt against Felix Strum in Germany this April. After his relinquishment Suzuki acquired the vacant throne by defeating Korean champ Pilsung Oh. Sato had a tough time coping with the tight-guarded champ, though he was slightly leading on all cards of the judges after the eighth based on the open scoring system. Suzuki dominated the ninth and tenth, but Sato was in command down the stretch in the last two sessions to confirm his triumph. Promoter: Shinko Promotions.