If you follow Japanese boxing you'll know that the Kameda brothers are pretty much the Japanese equivalent of Adrien Broner. They get a huge amount of viewers but on the flipside they tend to get an awful lot of people wanting to see them lose.
Whilst Broner's issue is most outside of the ring with his general attitude and behave with the Kameda's it's more what they've done in the ring.
From Koki Kameda's first world title win, a very controversial decision over Juan Jose Landaeta back in 2006, to the latest fight involving Daiki Kameda the brothers appear to have caused controversy often without trying.
Whilst Western fans have certainly aimed their ire at Koki it's fair to suggest that Japanese fans have been turned the most on Daiki. Both, East and West have however been mostly neutral on youngest brother Tomoki with Mexican fans especially being fond of him.
It's Daiki of course that appears to have almost ripped the Japanese fans away from boxing over the past few weeks. Unfortunately I think the issue involving Daiki is more deep rooted than the recent issues that I'll get on to in a minute.
Daiki first managed to turn the fans against him in October 2007 when he fought Daisuke Naito for the WBC Flyweight title. Prior to the bout Daiki had promised to commit Seppuku, the ritual suicide of the Samurai, if he lost to Naito. This was extreme to say the least and almost certainly offended various boxing fans.
In the fight it's self Daiki turned even more fans against himself. Whilst well behind on points Daiki, on advice of Koki and their father Shiro, elbowed Naito and tried body slamming the defending champion. These violent acts saw Daiki receiving a year long ban from the ring and the fans deciding they'd already had enough of the youngster.
It's fair to say that the fans have never really forgiven Daiki for his acts against Naito. He's fought 22 times since then and in all honesty proven that he has matured, he's proven that he's got a fighters mentality and he's got a fighters toughness.
Unfortunately just as it seemed that Daiki was beginning to prove himself things took a turn for the worst. He was scheduled for an IBF-WBA Super Flyweight unification bout with Liborio Solis, despite the fact Solis missed the 115lb weight limit by quite a margin. With Solis failing the weight it was decided that Daiki would still be able to unify the belts. The original comments however were that if Daiki lost he would be stripped. Later this turned out not to be the case and as we all know Daiki, despite losing has kept the IBF title.
From a personal point of view I understand the IBF's decision. Personally I'd accept that with Solis failing to make weight Daiki's title should not have been on the line. Unfortunately though the IBF's first statement, that if Daiki lost he lost his title, has lead some to feeling like they've been lied to. Heck, they have been lied to, at least once due to the IBF's own rules.
The IBF's own rules*, following the latest amendments made in April this year states:
2. Challenger’s Failure to Make Weight
Unfortunately the man that the IBF "protected" is a fighter that fans simply don't like. The performance against Solis would have convinced some fans to have lightened their view of Daiki, he was brave and took a fair beating in the middle rounds. But with the fact he kept the title the fans felt he should have lost, they almost ignored the bravery of Daiki to show their annoyance at the political situation of the champion.
The problem here isn't just that Daiki got to keep the title despite losing but also the fact the IBF have seemingly moved the goal posts. The IBF still aren't really accepted in Japan. Had it not been for Katsunari Takayama, the IBF Minimumweight champion, it's fair to suggest not a single Japanese fan would be defending the IBF. They have only been accepted in to Japan in the past year or two and and issues like this will harm how well readily fans warm to them.
If the fans get to keep Takayama at home defending his IBF title on a regular basis there is a chance that Japanese fans may accept them. Likewise if Naoya Inoue were to beat Johnriel Casimero for the IBF Light Flyweight title, or if Ryota Murata were to defeat Felix Sturm for the IBF Middleweight title they may "forgive" the IBF for this mistake. Barring those situations though it could be a very long time before the IBF can repair their reputation in Japan.
What perhaps hasn't helped the situation is that whether Daiki kept the belt or lost it he would likely have been fighting the same man anyway. If he retained with a draw or a win he'd have been facing South African Zolani Tete, the mandatory challenger. I'd have assumed that had he lost the belt here he'd have faced Tete for the vacant title anyway, effectively leaving us in the same real position as we're in.
In regards to Daiki their is a rumour that he will be handing the IBF title back due to the huge backlash against him. Regrettably that would probably be too little too late to salvage any trust between Daiki and the fans who will likely never really forgive him. They'll also be a lot less likely to tune in and watch him in action again despite the fact he is, for now, still a world champion
The IBF rules can be found here:
This is just an opinion, maaaan! It's easy to share our opinions, and that's what you'll find here, some random opinion pieces