Koki Kameda – playing the weighting game
Koki Kameda, 31-1 (17KO), is the current WBA World bantamweight champion, is the eldest sibling of the Kameda boxing brothers and is not to too many people’s liking in Japan. In some ways he is likened to Floyd Mayweather, like the American he has a few detractors from his demeanour; such as his arrogance, brash attitude and flamboyance.
One comes from an MTV video rap culture whilst the other belongs to a country that has always been known for its respect, politeness and generally friendliness.
Koki Kameda is, in essence, very un-Japanese by his mannerisms, many of which showed up in his early professional career.
During a fight in August 2005 against Wanmeechok Singwancha 16-6 (11KO) of Thailand for the OPBF flyweight title, Kameda dropped Singwancha twice in the opening round, badly hurting the defending champion in the process.
Kameda bent over his fallen opponent sneering and issuing a tirade of verbal abuse that was somewhat reminiscent of a young Tony Ayala Jnr.
Whether or not the Japanese public will fully embrace Kameda remains to be seen, but one thing is certain, they will have a grudging respect for the Osaka born, 26 year old southpaw.
He is a three weight world title holder [light flyweight, flyweight & bantamweight] however the ever confident Kameda believes that he can add titles in a further two weight divisions.
Turning professional in 2003 at the age of 17, Koki cut a swathe through his early flyweight opponents going 6-0 with five stoppages inside schedule; four stoppages in the first round and all done within 14 months of turning pro.
In only his 7th pro fight, a scheduled 10 rounder, Kameda stepped up in class and fought former longstanding WBC flyweight champion Saman Sorjaturong; at the time had a record of 46-7-1 (34KO).
Sorjaturong had won both the WBC & IBF titles in a fight of the year for 1995 against Humberto Gonzalez in California. Three years previously he was stopped in two rounds against the great Ricardo Lopez for the WBC minimumweight title.
Kameda simply had his way with him, hammering the former champion with huge right hooks and body shots that finally forced the referee to call a halt to the fight.
For as long as the fight lasted, Kameda was warned several times about leading with the head, as for Sorjaturong he retired after the fight.
Four fights later, in his 12th professional fight, Kameda came down in weight to challenge Juan Jose Landaeta of Venezuela for the vacant WBA light flyweight title. Kameda won a hotly disputed split decision victory, I and a few other observers, felt that Landaeta had done more than enough to shade the win.
Due to the outcry, mainly amongst the Japanese fans (they booed the decision), the WBA ordered an immediate rematch 4 months later which Kameda won by scoring a wide point win on all three judge’s scorecards.
Kameda moved back up to flyweight in March 2007 and slowly began working his way towards a second world title. However, 2007 was to prove to be a difficult year for the Kameda family.
In October of that year with Koki’s brother Daiki (2nd eldest of the 3 brothers), in his 11th pro fight fought fellow countryman and reigning WBC flyweight champion Daisuke Naito, who retired with a record of 36-3-3 (23KO).
In a bad tempered affair that saw Daiki deducted 3 points in the final round for numerous violations, which included MMA style tactics, the brothers father and trainer, Shiro Kameda, was suspended indefinitely by the Japanese Boxing Commission (JBC) as it was alleged that he had directed his son to fight dirty and use illegal tactics.
In a strange quirk of fate Koki worked his way into contention and finally got the chance to regain some family honour when he fought Naito in late 2009. Koki won the war by unanimous point’s win 116-112, 117-111 and 117-111.
Four months later he lost his WBC crown and the claim to the lineal World flyweight title when he dropped a close majority point’s defeat to Thailand’s Pongsaklek Wonjongkam.
After this defeat Koki decided on a move up to bantamweight, missing out super flyweight altogether, something that he apparently now wishes to rectify, though he has not ruled out the possibility of even moving further up in weight to super bantamweight.
The biggest criticism of Kameda, in boxing terms, has been his performances at 118lbs; to be blunt…he has failed to impress.
By the end of 2010, Kameda picked up the WBA World bantamweight title, which he has subsequently defended seven times. However those defences don’t paint the full picture of his bantamweight title reign.
Firstly, either Kameda may not have carried the same power up from flyweight or he just switches off in some fights and takes rounds off. He has knocked down his opponents at the weight a couple of times, keeping them there tends to be a different matter altogether.
Secondly, he has been very lucky a couple of times and has been on the receiving end of a few “gifts”. David De La Mora [23-0] gave him all he could handle. In late 2012 Kameda faced Hugo Ruiz [31-1 28KO] in a mandatory defence and won a split decision victory, in fact the fight was that easy to score that it could only have went one way…Hugo Ruiz; at least I thought so.
Prior to facing Ruiz, Kameda faced Mouldy Manakane [24-10-1] of Indonesia, and whilst he won pretty easily in the end, it was not a convincing performance. Kameda had elected to box more and move around against a man that had moved up from super flyweight.
Early 2013 saw Kameda struggle with Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym [36-1 19KO] but again took the split decision victory and stated, “that was the worst of me, it was bad.”
Panomroonglek moved up from flyweight to take the fight.
Only last month the light hitting John Mark Apolinario [17-2-3 4KO] was game and tough taking punishment from a somewhat rejuvenated version of Kameda. In fact it was a bit of a throwback to his younger days; with Kameda, like he also did against Manakane, began screaming at his opponents during mid-fight when both decided to stand and trade shots. The pride and ego of Kameda means he will just stand there and wave his opponents in and go to war.
However prior to his fight with Apolinario, Kameda was quoted as saying that he would like to add a title in a 4th weight class and has further stated he wishes to add a 5th weight division.
Speaking at the Apolinario pre-fight press conference Kameda stated, “I don’t have any problems making bantamweight, plus I could even make super flyweight. Therefore I want to come down in weight if the right fight is there and the chance presents itself. I would also like to move to super bantamweight and win a world title. I want to become a 5 weight world champion.”
A move down in weight is something that I would like to see as I honestly believe he hasn’t been the same fighter at 118lbs since jumping up two divisions. He has operated at bantamweight for close to 3 years now fighting mandatory contender after mandatory contender.
The WBA have yet to force the Anselmo Moreno fight upon him to unify the regular title with the super title that Moreno currently holds. The WBC 118lbs boss, Shinsuke Yamanka is the obvious fight that we would like to see, however promotional and/or gym owners will have a lot to say on whether this fight happens, and most likely Japanese TV.
The youngest brother of the Kameda litter also operates at bantamweight. Tomoki Kameda recently created history by winning the WBO version from Paulus Ambunda. Family ties and loyalties means a possible unification [WBO & IBF title unifications are now sanctioned by the JBC from 1st July 2013 including their fighters being allowed to hold on to the title] between the brothers will never happen.
That leaves Britain’s IBF title holder Jamie McDonnell, who captured the title a few months previously. Since winning the title all has been quiet regarding what McDonnell’s future plans and intentions are. However, it is probably a safe bet that a unification fight with Koki Kameda won’t materialise and McDonnell will have a couple of voluntary defences in his own backyard.
Unless Kameda makes his move now, to move down in weight, he is very likely to remain where he is fighting WBA top 10/15 ranked contenders. As it stands, Kameda currently has no number 1 contender to face or a mandatory defence in the pipeline.
Therefore I expect Kameda to pick someone who is ranked in the top 15 as a possible next opponent and one name that should be in the running is Hugo Ruiz. He deserves a rematch.
WBA world number 2 for July, Roberto Vazquez 32-6-2 (22KO) has also potentially blown his chance of a fight with Kameda. The former WBA 108lbs title holder, drew twice with John Mark Apolinario, only to drop a 6 round decision against journeyman Walberto Ramos 18-6-2 earlier this month.
However, should Kameda decide to move down in weight there are a couple of fan friendly fights outside of the title holders that Kameda could face, like fellow countryman Kohei Kono.
I suspect though that if Kameda is to move down in weight then it would need to be a title fight.
Then again there in lies another problem. The IBF super flyweight title had been vacant since early summer 2013 after Juan Carlos Sanchez Jnr was stripped of the title for failing to make weight.
Nepotism was the order of the day because Daiki Kameda 28-3 (18KO) will face off against Rodrigo Guerrero 19-4-1 (12KO) next week in Japan for the vacant IBF belt.
That leaves three other fighters that Koki Kameda could face should he desire to take on the challenge of moving down in weight to create history. They are as follows:
WBC Super Flyweight Champion
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai 20-3-1 (19KO)
Two stoppage defeats in his first two fights as a professional certainly seems to have pushed on the Thai champion who fights with unrelenting pressure. Nicknamed “Chopper”, by yours truly, he would be an excellent test, not only for Kameda but also for Rungvisai.
Rungvisai claimed the WBC title by chopping apart respected champion Yota Sato inside 8 rounds. The manner of the win has certainly left me wanting to see more of the 26 year old, and his style is certainly going to bring out the macho side of Koki Kameda.
Outcome: Regardless of whether Kameda finds making the weight fine or not I don’t think he will be able to deal with the swarming and unrelenting pressure of Rungvisai. Kameda has never faced a fighter like the Thai and I would be full of respect for Kameda if he fought him and pulled off the win.
Rungvisai to win by possible late stoppage.
WBA “World” Super Flyweight Champion
Liborio Solis 15-3-1 (7KO)
Many will look to Boxrec for info on this guy and would maybe come to the conclusion that he is not up to much. If they do then they haven’t watched this guy fight.
The 31 year old Venezuelan is no mug and is a very good boxer but that’s not all he is, because when he needs to he can get into the trenches and gut it out…he will go deep. He has a massive heart and has already been to Japan in 2013 and fought Kohei Kono is an unbelievable war (my Fight of the Year for 2013…so far!) for the WBA title.
Outcome: Purely depends what version of Kameda turns up. If he isn’t in the mood then he is likely to box off the back foot and put his foot down as the fight progresses, though Solis will have to be respected throughout.
I would expect a highly technical affair with the fight having more than its fair share of action, nip and tuck rounds as it goes the distance with a split decision victory being handed out to either of the combatants.
I would maybe side with Kameda on this fight, but I think it’s a pick’em fight.
WBO Super Flyweight Champion
Omar Narvaez 40-1-2 (21KO)
Narvaez is the oldest of the current crop of titlists at the weight. At 38 years of age he is the Pensioner of the Division. At his age and the weight that he fights he is very old.
Having competed at two Olympics and reached the podium at back to back World Championships as an amateur, he became WBO flyweight champion in his 12th pro fight.
Sixteen defences of the title later he moved up to super flyweight and won the vacant title in 2010, a title that he has since made his own. In between there was a quick jump up to bantamweight to face, then, pound for pound ranked, Nonito Donaire and was widely beaten in a very drab affair.
Narvaez is not exactly exciting to watch but he has been successful in turning back mandatory and voluntary challengers, the last mandatory came in May 2013 against Felipe Orucuta, which was a very tight affair and a rematch now seems to be percolating.
Outcome: I expect Kameda to be too young, too big and too fresh for Narvaez but I don’t expect this fight to be in any contenders for fight of the year.
Narvaez can box but whether he can do it under pressure remains to be seen as footage of him is sometimes scattered having spent the bulk of his career fighting in his native Argentina.
Kameda to win on points.
The above fights at super flyweight are just a quick breakdown of the current situation and we haven’t yet touched up what his options look like at 122lbs. Given his current options at both bantamweight and super flyweight there are probably two fights, three at a push that would may be defining fights for Kameda.
Yamanaka, Solis and Rungvisai are on my shortlist. The Yamanaka fight makes perfect sense as it dispels the myth that Japanese fighters don’t always fight the best nor do they take part in many unification fights.
Yamanaka is the toughest fight out there for Kameda at the minute and there is one telling difference between the two fighters; Yamanaka is a power puncher and can fold opponents up like accordions at any time, usually after a prolonged beat down.
Solis has already travelled to Japan and won a tight decision so I doubt he will have much issue going back over if the money was right.
The Rungvisai fight rekindles the Japanese-Thai boxing rivalry that has been so prevalent throughout the years.
Whether Kameda stays true to his word and attempts to become a 5 weight world title holder will remain unanswered until he makes a decision on his future.
However, in Japan it is considered a great achievement becoming a world champion but it is what that champion does to distinguish himself from the other title holders is what it will come down to. Does Kameda really the desire to be the best or does he continue defending his title?
Japanese crowds and TV audiences though are not easily fooled and expect their champions to not only win in impressive fashion but by beating the strongest possible challenger.
Kameda has yet to do this since moving up to bantamweight.
At the age of 26 he has plenty of time on his side but how long until demand grows for him to face another legit contender or champion?
Koki Kameda has laboured his way, somewhat, through his bantamweight reign and that does bode well for a possible date with Shinsuke Yamanaka.
I suspect Kameda will continue doing what he is doing…beating WBA top 15 contenders whilst getting handsomely paid for it but I for one, hope he is serious about moving down in weight because even outside of the world title holders, there are some good fights lurking round the corner for Koki Kameda.
Last edited by El Cholo; 08-29-2013 at 09:10 AM.