A lot of good Asian fighters are hidden from the US audiences due to the weights they fight at and as a result the likes of Naoya Inoue and Akira Yaegashi are unlikely to ever be featured on US TV which is a real shame. Thankfully however not all Japanese fighters are kept away from American fans and this weekend sees the always fun to watch Yoshihiro Kamegai (24-1-1, 21) return to US TV for his 4th fight in front of the American TV cameras.
Kamegai is currently 1-1-1 on US TV having won his American debut with an eye catching and thoroughly exciting stoppage victory against Hector Munoz in 2011, he then returned to the US the following year and fought to a draw with Jorge Silva before losing, last year, to Johan Perez in what was a genuinely disappointing effort by Kamegai who was made to look slow, sluggish and completely off the pace by the fleet footed Venezuelan.
Since the loss to Perez we've seen Kamegai return to Japan and score back to back stoppage claim and defend the OPBF Welterweight title. He'll be hoping to keep that winning run going as he faces his most notable opponent to date, Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero (31-2-1-2, 18). Guerrero, a multi-weight former world champion, is coming back to the ring following a 13 month break from action after his loss last year to Floyd Mayweather Jr. That loss was then followed by Guerrero trying to free himself from a promotional contract with Golden Boy Promotions in the hope of securing a Manny Pacquiao fight. Unfortunately for Guerrero he failed to get the release he was wanting and instead ended up spending more time away from the ring before this bout was announced.
At his best Guerrero is very decent boxer-fighter who can box well and take a fight to someone. He's not a natural Welterweight by any stretch of the imagination but he's still strong at the weight, moves well and has a decent work rate as he showed in his bouts with Selcuk Aydin and Andre Berto back in 2012. Of course both of those fights are a long time ago and since then both Aydin and Berto have been shown to be at the end of the line. At 31 and with the long lay off some may also suggest that Guerrero is a fighter who is also on the verge of calling an end to his career.
Although 4 months older than Guerrero the Japanese fight is arguably the fresher man having not been in too many wars despite his relatively basic and straight ahead style. The reason Kamegai lacks the miles on the clock that Guerrero has is the fact that he has been given ridiculous power that has bailed him out on a fairly regular basis. This has allowed Kamegai not only to score 21 stoppages in 26 fights but keep his average fight length to just 5.26 rounds a fight, a round a fight less than Guerrero who has gone around 6.25 rounds a fight. It may not sound like a lot but Kamegai has been in 137 pro rounds to Guerrero's 225 rounds and Kamegai has also fought them at a lower level, not trading shots with the likes of Aydin, Katsidis, Salido, Casamayor and Klassen.
With his natural size advantage, power, hunger and desire to prove himself we actually give Kamegai a good chance here. He is, as mentioned earlier, facing a man coming to the ring after a long lay off and who is naturally smaller and, probably more importantly, enjoys a fight. If Guerrero gets involved in a fight with Kamegai, which we imagine he will, we can genuinely see the power and strength of the Japanese fighter taking it's toll on the American and we refuse to rule out the upset here from the Japanese fighter.
We know we're in the minority but we'll be putting money on Kamegai by stoppage in the late rounds with his heavy hands being the difference between the two men.
Incidentally Johan Perez, who beat Kamegai last year, will be defending his WBA interim Welterweight title in July against Mauricio Herrera who shares a nickname of "El Maestro" with Kamegai. This bout has been pencilled in for the same card as Tomoki Kameda Vs Pungluang Sor Singyu
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
The OPBF titles are viewed as an honour by fighters through out Asia, though unfortunately not all the challengers for the belts are particularly great. This is the case this weekend as Korean Jung-Hoon Yang (8-5, 2) challenges for the OPBF Welterweight title.
Yang is a 2-time Korean champion at 147lbs and he is a former OPBF title challenger. Although his record may suggest that he's a bum, he really isn't and had he had better connections he may well have had a slightly better record. Despite his record though he did score a notable victory in his last bout, taking a decision over Japan's Shamgar Koichi. It's that victory that has really helped him to get this opportunity.
Unfortunately for Yang his last OPBF title fight ended terrible, with the Korean stopped in just 4 rounds by the big punching Akinori Watanabe. We're expecting something similar to happen here as he takes on reigning champion Yoshihiro Kamegai (23-1-1, 20), another monstrously big punching Japanese fighter.
Kamegai, if you've somehow not seen him, is a fun to watch fighter. He's generally quiet basic and can be out boxed but few will out slug him with his explosive power. At his worst Kamegai can be made to look stupid, stationary and 1-dimensional, as he was in his loss to the under-rated Johan Perez, at his best though he's a terrifying puncher who destroys what he hits.
From what we know of Yang he's not an awful fighter but we simply can't imagine him taking the power of Kamegai very well at all and his own lack of fire power won't keep the Japanese fighter honest. Instead Kamegai will walk though the return fire in the knowledge that his own heavy artillery will simply be too much for the over-matched challenger who will likely last 4 or 5 rounds as Kamegai slowly but steadily grinds down his challenger.
We;re hoping that if Kamegai, as expected, is successful here we'll see him in with a more fitting challenger next time. We know that the Welterweights in Asia are limited but fights featuring Kamegai and Suyon Takayama, Akinori Watanabe, Teerachai Kratingdaenggym or Patomsuk Pathompothong would all be very interesting. Certainly more so than this bout seems like to be.
If you want us to sum this up in a world we're expecting to see a show case performance of Kamegai, his power and his style. He's almost always fun to watch, but it's just a shame that it's not coming against a suitable dance partner.
(Poster courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Having canned the old "Full Schedule" of Asianboxing we have instead decided to concentrate more on the major bouts. This section, the "Preview" section will look at major bouts involving OPBF and national titles. Hopefully leading to a more informative style for, you the reader.