The Japanese Super Bantamweight scene is one of the most deep and interesting scenes out there, and it has been for years with great fight after great fight after great fight. One of the things that has stood out has been the competitiveness of those fights, and we have been getting a really consistent run of fantastic, competitive, back and forth fights. The division really has been pouring out some absolute thrillers over the last few years, both in title bouts and none title bouts. Today we go into the Closet and draw out a brilliant Japanese Super Bantamweight title fight from 2016, and it really is a lost modern classic.
Yasutaka Ishimoto (28-8, 7) vs Gakuya Furuhashi (18-7-1, 8) II
In August 2015 Yasutaka Ishimoto, best known by US fans for his bouts in Macao against Wilfredo Vazquez Jr and Chris Avalos, scored a razor thin win over Gakuya Furuhashi in a thrilling 8 round bout. The result of that win was a Japanese title fight for Ishimoto who would narrowly beat Yusaku Kuga in a thriller to claim the vacant Japanese title. After winning the belt he would make his first defense against Furuhashi, who had fought to a draw in a previous title bout against Yukinori Oguni.
Fans outside of Japan may have heard of Ishimoto but not many will have seen him, outside of his Macao fights. To those in Japan however he was a hugely popular domestic level fighter and a man who had some of the noisiest fans in the sport at the time. When he fought the Korakuen Hall was packed, loud and had an even louder more excited atmosphere than usual. Although Ishimoto wasn't a world class talent, or a banger, his following was massive, and his style was nothing short of thrilling, with every fight being an action packed brawl.
Furuhashi wasn't quite a popular as Ishimoto, though like Ishimoto his style was based around action, brawling and fighting at a high pace, trading blows and engaging in a really fun stylistic match up. It was a style suited to fighters with more power, but one he used and one fans enjoyed. Like Ishimoto he was popular, and was popular, in part due to his ability to get involved in a tear up.
With two fighters who enjoyed a war facing off, with history from their first bout, it's self a thriller, we were expecting something special here. And it delivered!
The first round was high paced feeling out round, that got better and better as the round went on. The crowd buying into the action with applause and cheers almost from the first noteworthy punch. Through round two we were beginning to see a high tempo contest fought at mid range, both guys firing off jabs and trying to follow them up. It was a fight that suited Ishimoto and one that Furuhashi knew he had to change, and change he did stepping up the pace, and then being punished on the inside. He knew that for him to win he had to grit it out and turn it into a war, and by the mid rounds that was exactly what had happened, with Furuhashi raiding on the champion.
From there on the bout just became something special with grit and determination driving Furuhashi on, as he looked to win the title and avenge his prior loss to Ishimoto whilst Ishimoto himself sought to break down the challenger and in what was becoming a hotly contest fight. The crowd were cheering on the action, supporting a great fight and there was hardly an empty seat in the Hall as it began bouncing.
With Furuhashi pressing in the second half of the fight the it seemed like he could, potentially turn things around as the men began exchanging combinations of headshots.
In the end one man would stay standing, but both would walk out of the ring with their reputations enhanced and fans desperate to see more of both fighters, who had let it all hang out in a forgotten yet brilliant modern day war.
Please note - The sound used in this video was subdued due to the recording method, though the image should be excellent.
There appears to be something about fights that take place in the build up to Christmas, we're not sure what but the last few years the finals days before Christmas have given us some late Fight of the Year contenders. These have included bouts like Makoto Fuchigami Vs Tomohiro Ebisu, Kompayak Porpramook Vs Adrian Hernandez I and today's Closet Classic which came from the end of 2018 and was another incredible fight. In fact this should go down as one of the rare thrillers bouts between southpaws.
Nobuyuki Shindo (20-4-1, 8) vs Akinori Watanabe (37-7, 31)
Interim titles, for the WBA, are a source of revenue, but for the JBC they are a way to keep the title picture going when there's been an issue with the champion and their health.
In May 2018 Nobuyuki Shindo won the Japanese Light Middleweight title with a narrow win over Ryosuke Maruki, to become a 2-weight Japanese champion. Despite the win he suffered an injury that would keep him out of the ring for a prolonged time. Rather than have the title sit on the side the JBC allowed Akinori Watanabe to take on the aforementioned Maruki for the interim title in August 2018, with Watanabe stopping Maruki in the opening round. The JBC then matched the two champions in December, in what turned out to be a ridiculously good fight.
Shindo, for those who are unaware, is a freakishly long and tall fighter, who's a southpaw making him even more awkward. Although not a puncher he does land quite regularly on opponent, with good accuracy and good speed. At this point he was 32 and had moved into the weight class that best suited his tall, long frame. Despite not being an out and out warrior, he had been in some fun and entertaining bouts bouts, with a lot of very close contests.
Watanabe on the other hand had a reputation as being a bit of a glass cannon. From his 7 losses entering the bout 6 were inside the distance, including 2 opening round defeats. Of his 44 bouts to this point 14 had failed to see the start of round 2, 20 had ended in the first 2 rounds and 29 had ended in the first 4 rounds. Win or lose he was going out swinging and was almost always in fun, fan friendly bouts, even if they weren't going to last long.
The fight started with Watanabe applying pressure and Shindo trying to box off the back foot, moving and making the most of his reach. On paper that was both men applying their tactics, and strangely the bout actually saw both men apply their tactics through out. Despite the tactics contrasting they managed to work brilliantly here and we ended up with a bout that built from a competitive chess into a bloody and violent war. The shots of Shindo never looked particularly hurtful but they left Watanabe's face a swollen and bloodied mess, Watanabe on the other hand always looked dangerous and it often felt like sooner or later he was going to take his man out...if his face could hold up.
What we ended up getting was something very, very special. It wasn't pretty but it was wonderful violent with some of the later action being nothing short of brutally breath taking as both men gave everything they had to unify the Japanese titles at 154lbs.
Over the last few years the Light Flyweight division has been red hot. It has simply been on fire with great fights, amazing match ups, fighters at the top taking on legitimate contenders and whilst we have lacked unification bouts we've never felt like the division was on a stand still, like we see with some other divisions. Contenders aren't being frozen out, but are getting shots, thanks to the activity and mentality of the champions, who all want to improve their standing in the sport. For today's closest classic we roll back to 2011 for maybe the best Light Flyweight bout of the last decade, and one of the best bouts of the last decade, full stop.
Kompayak Porpramook (43-3, 29) Vs Adrian Hernandez (22-1-1, 14) I
It's December 23rd 2011, just days from Crhistmas and WBC Light Flyweight champion Adrian Hernandez, who would later fighter Naoya Inoue, was looking to make his second defense of the title. He had won the belt less than 8 months earlier, stopping Gilberto Keb Baas and had made his first defense in September, stopping Gideon Buthelezi. He had looked like the new rising star of Mexican boxing at the weight. He was more than 3 years removed from his sole loss and looked like he was going to be a major player in the division.
Kompayak on the other hand was a relative unknown outside of Asia. Like many Thai he had a great looking record, a throw back record if you will, but you'd have been hard pushed to have recognised many of his opponents up to this point. They were, for the most part, the mixture of Thai and Indonesian journeymen that did the Thai circuit, and Hussein Hussein, who stopped Kompayakin 4 rounds. Even those actively follow the Asian scene would have struggled to have picked out more than 10 of Kompayak's opponents, and of those 10 almost all, Hussein aside, would have been known as journeyman and losers. He had done nothing to deserve a shot at a world title, and it seemed as if the Mexican's team thought this would be an easy defense.
As we all know by now no bout in Thailand is easy, especially not a bout outdoors in the baking sun. The average mean temperature in Thailand in December is 26.5°C (79.7°F), add in the fact the humidity is around the mid 60's and the bout is outdoors and you have conditions weighed heavily against the visitor. Despite those conditions we got something special.
The fight started with Kompayak pressing the action and Hernandez responded. This was no typical opening round. This wasn't a feeling out round. Instead it was an action packed round that set the foundations for an hellacious back and forth brawl.
Round after round the two men would stand in the pocket and let shots go, fighting a truly scary tempo given the conditions, and it wasn't just Kompayak pressing forward, with Hernandez giving just as good, if not better, than he was taking. It seemed as if the Mexican's confidence of beating the little known Thai drove him on, making him dig deeper and deeper to win what was supposed to be an easy bout.
As the bout went on both men refused to show signs of tiring, it was a war, a battle of attrition and eventually every was has a loser, with the battle and conditions finally taking their toll on one of the men.
Interestingly the two men would later have a rematch, less than a year later in Mexico. That rematch wasn't as good as this fight, it was another action packed war and well worth watching as well!
We've spoken multiple times about how great the fights for the Japanese Middleweight title often are. In 2016 we saw the "interim" belt give us something totally mind blowing as veteran Makoto Fuchigami and hard hitting fighter Tomohiro Ebisu put it on the line in a pre-Christmas treat at the Korakuen Hall. The bout, as mentioned for the interim title, had come about following an out of the ring accident for Hikaru Nishida, who had fallen down some stairs forcing him to cancel a planned defense. Whilst the reason for the bout wasn't a good one, the fight it's self was something special.
Tomohiro Ebisu (16-4, 16) vs Makoto Fuchigami (23-11, 14)
December 24th 2016 saw Hachioji Nakaya promote one of their most memorable bouts. The card it's self was most forgetable, barring the main event. In fact the 6 under-card bouts combined for just 14 rounds, but the main event gave us a late runner for the Fight of the Year, or at least the Japanese Figth of the Year.
In one corner was former world title challenger Makoto Fuchigami, who had famously fought Gennady Golovkin in 2012, but had been in a number of thrillers at the domestic and regional level, including his 2011 bout with Koji Sato. The win over Sato had seen him unify the OPBF and Japanese titles but in the years that followed he had sort of struggled, going 5-5 including the loss to Golovkin, and a pair of losses to both Akio Shibata and Hikaru Nishida. In fact when Nishida suffered his injury he was training for a third bout with Fuchigami.
For those who haven't seen much of Fuchigami, perhaps only the Golovkin fight, he had an awkward style. He was super relaxed, rode punches well and threw them from some unorthodox angles himself. Although lacking in power he often landed clean blows at this level and showed real guts to time and time again, to turn fights around. He was never the most explosive, or toughest, but he was one of the gutsiest, bravest and exciting Japanese Middleweights of his time.
In the other corner was the stop of be stopped Tomohiro Ebisu. Like Fuchigami he had previously held the Japanese Middleweight title, stopping Sanosuke Sasaki in 2013, though had a very short reign and lost the belt in his first defense less than 6 months later. Through his first 20 fights, leading up to this bout, he had never heard the final bell, with an 8th round TKO win over Yasuyuki Akiyama being the closest he had come, having just over 2 minutes of that bout left. Of his 20 bouts 12 had finished, one way or another, in the first 3 rounds. He was a true glass cannon
Although not the most skilled of fighters Ebisu's power and dodgy chin made him a must watch fighter. An offensive monster, who knew he had to try and take a fighter out before they caught him on the jaw. He made for short but lively fighters, and whilst few of them were truly memorable, they were often fun, exciting and edge of the seat stuff.
What we got when Fuchigami and Ebisu clashed as a skilled boxer, against a huge puncher and they gave for a stylistically thrilling match up, that had both men landing bombs from the early stages. Fuchigame tried to fight as the smart man, using his edge in speed and technical ability, whilst Ebisu looked to land booming power shots, trying to take out the more experienced man. It made for a hot start to the fight, which just got better and better. Even moments of lower activity where thrilling, with Ebisu refusing to just be held and punching as Fuchigami tried to tie him up, forcing Fuchigami to use a different defensive approaches.
From round 1 this was a cracking back and forth, and was a pre-Christmas treat for fight fans looking to open present the following day.
Originally this bout was available for free on the A-sign boxing site, before becoming a reward for those who had used the paid service. Since then it has been one of the most under-watched videos on the A-Sign youtube channel, and really deserves so much more love than it's hard since being uploaded for free this past March. Give it a watch, as this is a closet class that shouldn't be left in the closet!
A few weeks ago we looked at a great fight featuring Venezuelan fighter Liborio Solis and Daiki Kameda. Today we return to the Closet Classic for a different Solis fight as he again fought in Japan and fought in an amazing bout, this time with the always fun to watch Kohei Kono. Entering the bout the two men were part of the political title mess the WBA had created with their "regular" and "interim" titles, but in the ring the two men gave us a show for the ages, and a totally enthralling must watch from back in 2013.
Kohei Kono (28-7, 11) Vs Liborio Solis (14-3-1, 7)
The first it's self was a WBA "regular" and WBA "interim" Super Flyweight unification bout pitting 32 year old Japanese veteran Kohei Kono against unheralded Venezuelan Liborio Solis. Coming in Kono was the WBA world champion, having won the title 5 months earlier from Tepparith Kokietgym in a huge career best win for his and having come as the third win in a row. Solis on the other hand had entered the bout on the back of 5 wins, including victories over Rafael Concepcion and Jose Salgado, but was fighting in Asia for the first time.
At the age of 32 Kono was a proven quantity of sorts by this point. Win or lose he'd always come to fight, he had proven his great chin, fantastic engine but also shown his limitations. He could be out boxed, out sped and out moved. In fact it wasn't much before this fight that he had been beaten by the then 2-0 Yohei Tobe, with that loss being a third straight defeat following set backs against Tomas Rojas and Yota Sato. Despite his losses he had always shown himself to be a warrior, someone who entered the ring looking for a proper war.
Despite having less than half the fights that Kono had Solis was also no youngster, in fact he was 31 at the time and despite debuting way back in 2000, his career took a long of time to really get going, with more than 5 years away from the ring from 2002 to 2007. Coming in to this he was on a role, with his 2 best wins, a 5 fight winning run and he had picked up wins in Panama, Mexico and his native Venezuela.
When the men got in the ring they both had a steel determination to shine and that showed from the opening round, with Kono trying to take the fight to Solis and Solis responding with clean shots on the advancing Kono. By round 2 the bombs were coming thick and fast and, with big right hands being thrown with bad intentions. A huge counter right from Kono would buckle Solis' knees, which was scored a knockdown, and from then on the touch paper was well and truly alight. Solis would get revenge a few rounds later, dropping the tough Kono with a left hand, and from then on the two men battled hard, each knowing there was little to separate them.
This was, sadly, one of 2013's most over-looked wars, but we'd suggest you all take the opportunity to enjoy this amazing war now, a little over 6 years after Kono and Solis beat the snot out of each other.
There are few fighters as revered with Japanese fight fans as the legendary Joichiro Tatsuyoshi. In the 1990's he was as close to a boxing mega star that Japan had, and in many ways his charisma and style was something totally different. He was able to draw audiences that other Japanese fighters could only dream of, and even in defeat he remained hugely popular. In 1997 he took part in one of his most iconic bouts, and one of the most exciting bouts to ever be staged in a Japanese ring. Not only that but he ripped up the form books and put in one of the best performances of his career, despite being seen as being a man on the slide.
Sirimongkol Singwancha (16-0, 6) Vs Joichiro Tatsuyoshi (14-4-1, 11)
Thailand's unbeaten Sirimongkol Singwancha had won the WBC "interim" Bantamweight title in 1996 but was upgraded swiftly and defended the full version of the title just 6 months later, defeating Jesus Sarabia. In his third defense he would go on to defeat Victor Rabanales before heading on to Japan to take on Tatsuyoshi. He was beginning to get a reputation as a very talented fighter, and although he lacked fire power hee was highly skilled and strong at Bantamweight, and like many Thai's seemed to be able to drain himself down much lower than a typical fighter would.
Tatsuyoshi on the other hand was a former champion, who had beaten Greg Richardson in 1991 for the WBC Bantamweight title, but had lost it in his first defense to the aforementioned Rabanales. He would go on to claim the interim title but lose in a unification bout to Yasuei Yakushiji and his career then meandered with 2 losses to Daniel Zaragoza, in 1996 and 1997. It seemed like his career was fading. He had had eye injuries, defeats and a very hard career, not helped by his aggressive style and poor defense.
The bout started somewhat slowly, though not with a typical feeling out round, with the youth and energy of Sirimongkol looking like it was a little bit too much for a weary Tatsuyoshi. The Japanese fighter certainly didn't look terrible, but the crisp connects were most from the Thai who lacked the issues coming in that "Joe of Naniwa" had. From the bout got progressively more exciting and through rounds 4 and 5 the touch paper really got lit as Tatsuyoshi began to force his fight on the action. From there on the fight was just something special, with Sirimongkol slowing down and being forced to fight the wrong fight.
With the fight being fought at close range we had none stop excitement as the two men went on to deliver one of the greatest back and forth wars of 1996.
Amazingly after the bout both had significant success, with Sigimongkol later going on to win a world title at Super Featherweight and, in 2018, fighting as a Light Heavyweight, whilst Tatsuyoshi had an Indian summer in his career.
Not all of our Closet Classics are all out wars and some are just amazing bouts of technical brilliance, exciting back and forth battles and are simply thrilling must watch bouts. Today we want to break into the Cloest and share a modern classic which combined two unbeaten men, both with a lot of promise at the time. Entering the bout one man was the unbeaten OPBF champion whilst the other fighter was a man tipped for stardom, and a man who has since become one of the most men in Japanese boxing. Today we give you what was arguably the best Japanese bout of 2014.
Ryui Hara (18-0, 10) vs Kosei Tanaka (3-0, 1)
The date was October 30th 2014 and the then OPBF Minimumweight champion Ryuji Hara, who was on the verge of a world title fight, was facing off with the fast rising Kosei Tanaka. Both men were talented, speedy fighters, each looking to move forward with their careers. A win for Hara, would be his first OPBF title defense, whilst a win for Tanaka would see him create history as the quickest Japanese fighter to claim an OPBF belt.
Hara had been a solid amateur but unlike most successful amateurs he actually only got a C class license when hr turned professional in 2010. Later that year he would go on to win the All Japan Rookie of the Year, at Minimumeight, before taking the Japanese title in 2012, with a win over Kenishi Horikawa, then the OPBF title in the spring of 2014. By the time of this fight he was universally world ranked and looked like a potential star for the Ohashi Gym, which by then was seeing Naoya Inoue racing through the ranks. Through his first 18 bouts Hara looked a very tidy, talented and quick boxer, though liked in terms of fire power and physicality.
Whilst Inoue had been getting fanfare and attention in the Kanto region of Japan the fans in Chubu seemed to know they had a special talent in the form of Kosei Tanaka, a very skilled youngster who had signed up with former world champion Kiyoshi Hatanaka in 2013 and scored 3 solid wins to begin his career. In a major step up he the faced off with Hara, looking to announce himself and taking an OPBF title in 4 fights, something that Inoue took 5 fights to do. He was seen as a man clearly on the tail of Inoue, but had to get through the "Monster's" stablemate here.
What we got was here was an incredibly bout, showing the speed and technique of both, in what was a technical buy thrilling, aggressive and exciting fight with both men looking like they were on fast forward at times. The bout had amazing back and forth and for 9 rounds it was almost impossible to split them, before finally seeing one man's strength and accuracy finally forced the other to wilt.
In many ways this is the start of Kosei Tanaka's incredible climb to becoming a 3 weight world champion, and is a bout that every fan, especially those of the lower weights, deserves to see.
Not every bout we cover on Closet Classics will be an historic bout of the highest significance, and we're sure our regular readers will be well aware of that by now, so with that in mind we want to share a relatively low key, but thoroughly action packed bout from 2008. A bout that was little more than an incredible shoot out, and had intense, but short lived, action, with both men trying to behead the other from the opening bell. This Closet Classic is boxing's equivalent of wanting to get, ahem, shit faced for the night and not caring too much about the consequences of the drinks you're throwing down your throat.
Akinori Watanabe (16-1, 15) Vs Tsuyoshi Kamiishi (8-6-3, 6)
Coming in to the fight Akinori Watanabe was seen as a huge puncher on the Japanese scene. The 22 year old had only been beaten once, in a Japanese Welterweight title fight to Tadashi Yuba. He was looking to bounce back from that loss in a bout against Kamiishi, who looked like a limited opponent on paper and to score his 16th win. During his first 17 bouts he had already scored scored 15 straight knockouts, between going the distance for a win on his debut and the loss to Yuba, with 8 in the opening round. When he got in the ring we knew dynamite would be thrown.
As for Kamiishi he was a limited fighter, but someone who rarely seemed to hear the bell. He had scored 6 KO's from his 8 wins, including 3 in the opening round, but also suffered 3 opening round losses himself from his 6 losses, 4 of which had been stoppages. He came for the knockouts, and win or lose he was always looking for a short night, making him a must watch fighter.
Given the fact both men seemed to be offended by the bell, we knew we were in for something special here.
From the opening seconds Kamiishi was on the front foot, pressing Watanabe who tried to dissuade his foe with power shots. Kamishii seemed hurt about 30 seconds in but never looked back and began to push his man once again, looking to get inside. When he did that all hell broke loose with Watanabe hurting hurting him, hunting him and then we got incredible fireworks with both being hurt.
This was a 2 and a half minute shoot out, and for the modern age this is a bout worth every second.
Fighters rarely provide thriller after thriller after thriller. Where they do they tend to lose, due to accumulation of damage from wars adding up. Thankfully though we have had fighters who seemed to realise that boxing was part of the entertainment game and realised they needed to do more than just win. They needed to put on a show. They needed to excite fans. They needed to capture the imagination of those watching. In recent years there has been one particular fighter from Hong Kong who did just that. In fact that he put Hong Kong boxing on the map, before deciding to chase an Olympic dream, fighting for his country, rather than fighting for a professional world title and personal glory.
Of course that fighter was Rex Tso, and in we're being honest we could, and we will, go through a number of his great fights during this "Closet Classic" series, though today we start with one where he took on an unbeaten man, who attempted to win and put his name on the proverbial boxing map, giving us something amazing and giving his everything.
Rex Tso (19-0, 12) vs Ryuto Maekawa (11-0-1, 7)
By late 2016 Rex Tso had become the face of the Hong Kong boxing movement, he was a local star with the appeal, style and look to become much, much bigger than just the figure for Hong Kong. His all action fighting style meant he was potentially a figure head for Asian boxing in the coming years. He had marched up the world rankings on the back of 19 straight wins, picking up regional titles along the way and was looking like a world title fight was just around the corner. Like him or loathe him he was must watch TV, and DEF Promotions knew they had someone with star potential on their hands. The Wonder Kid was a made for TV fighter, and was a fighter who was attracting buzz from outside of just the boxing world.
Even prior to this fight Tso had been in amazing battles with Mako Matsuyama, Ratchasak KKP, Michael Enriquez, and would later go on to have sensational bouts with Hirofumi Mukai and Kohei Kono.
Whilst Rex Tso was already a star Ryuto Maekawa really wasn't. He was a relative unknown outside of the true hardcore fans of the Japanese scene, and even then he was hardly known by local fans. He had been on a few televised cards, though his most notable results were hardly footnotes on those cards, such as a draw with Cris Alfante and a blow out over Bimbo Nacionales. Despite being relatively unknown Maekawa was regarded as a hard hitting 20 year old prospect, who knew a win here of Tso would see his stock fly through the roof and leave him on the verge of a potential world title eliminator. All he had to do was get past Tso on October 8th 2016.
The fight started with a bit of a feeling out round, albeit a busier and more active one than your typical opening round, it was as if they started in second gear, rather than the typical slow paced start we see with fighters easing themselves into the fight. From then on things got better and better, with the fighters upping their output round by round.
By the time we got into round 6 and 7 the bout was becoming a fight, with Tso pressing and Maekawa responding with shots of his own between Tso's combinations. Both fighters were taking clean shots, both were letting punches go and both were willing to stand and trade at mid and close range. Amazingly things never really slowed down from there with both continuing to fire off combinations. Although one man was getting the better of it, round after round, the will of both was incredible and the action was fantastic. Even with swelling on his face and whilst in a huge hole Maekawa refused to just lose and gave all he had, right through to the final bell.
This was great, and even though Maekawa had to spend time in hospital after the bout, the fight is something every fight fan should give a watch to, and don't worry we will have more Rex Tso fights featred in our Close Classic in the future,
We don't see many unification bouts in boxing, sadly, though when we do they are always worth extra atrention as two world class fighters share the ring, each looking to prove they are the better man. Sometimes things don't really go as planned, and in 2013 we saw a unification go awry after one of the fighters missed weight for the bout. Technically it was still a unification bout, if the fighter who made weigh won, though due to a technicality with the IBF rules if their champion, who had made weight, lost they would remain the champion. That would later become a huge issue for all involved, and sadly left a nasty taste in the mouth following what was an incredible bout, a bout that is still over shadowed by boxing politics.
Daiki Kameda (29-3, 18) Vs Liborio Solis (15-3-1, 7)
It was December 2013 and Daiki Kameda, the middle child of the Kameda boxing family, was the IBF Super Flyweight champion. In the opposite corner was WBA former champion Liborio Solis who had been stripped on the scales the previous day for coming in at 117.5lbs for the bout. The IBF rules dictated that win or lose Kameda would remain the champion, rules that weren't well explained to the fans or TBS, the broadcaster. Despite Solis being stripped of his title the WBA belt was still up for grabs for Kameda, who could become a double champion.
Up to this point Kameda had been a hugely controversial figure in Japanese boxing, with his 2007 performance against Daisuke Naito still leaving a bitter taste in the memory of fans. That bout, for those unaware, saw Kameda repeatedly foul Naito, throw him around and state he would commit harakiri if he lost, despite the loss Kameda, thankfully, didn't go through with the suicide. He would have a 12 month ban for that performance, though on to rebuild his name. Kameda would become a world champion in 2010 and 2-weight in 2013, thanks to a fantastic win over Rodrigue Guerrero.
Solis had long been a criminally under-rated Venezuelan warrior. He had suffered 3 losses in his first 13 bouts but had rebuilt well with 6 straight wins including notable wins against Rafael Concepcion, Jose Salgado and Kohei Kono, with the win over Kono coming in a thriller in Tokyo where both men were dropped. It was that win over Kono that saw Solis become the WBA champion, and saw him being welcomed back to Japan for the Kameda fight.
On paper Solis had the chance to have a decent fan support against the decisive Kameda, had he made weight. By failing to make weight however he had turned those who had wanted to see him win against him, enhancing the pro-Kameda fan base. Despite the fans being well against him Solis didn't let that affect him, and instead he took a composed mentality into the ring, launching attacks with hooks and big right hands as Kameda tried to apply pressure. Kameda managed to back up Solis, but in the early going Solis ate up the pressure and tagged Kameda with hard counter shots.
By the mid way point the style of the fight had changed slightly, with Solis pressing forward more, trying to back Kameda off with his power shots and volume. It seemed as if Kameda's resilience was wearing down as we got through the middle section of the fight, with round 8 being a particularly tough one for the Japanese fight, who was dragged into a toe-to-toe war in the round of the fight.
To his credit Kameda gritted out a few hard rounds and tried to turn it all around late on. He knew he had to do something big in the final rounds and he failed, losing in an entertaining bout, but not one that was never in contention as a FOTY contender. It was just a solid, hard hitting and pulsating contest.
Sadly for Kameda the IBF's decision not to strip him later lead to the JBC stripping the Kameda gym of their licenses and incensed Japanese fans who felt they had been lied to. This essentially ended the Kameda family as a major force in Japanese boxing, and it took years before any of the clan would fight in Japan. It would also be close to 2 years until Daiki fought again, retiring after an upset loss in his return to Victor Ruiz in 2015.
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features