At the start of this year Japan had only ever had one IBF champion, Satoshi Shingaki. This year that number climbed to threee as Katsunari Takayama finally won the IBF Minimumweight title and Daiki Kameda (29-3, 18) claimed the Super Flyweight title.
On December 3rd both Takayama, who defends against Vergilio Silvano, and Daiki will put their titles on the line as Japanese boxing tries to prove that allowing IBF champions isn't a bad thing for the sport.
As mentioned Takayama will be fighting Silvano in the first defense of his title. For Daiki however things are much rickier as he attempts to unify his belt with the WBA title currently held by Venezuelan Liborio Solis (15-3-1, 7). For Solis this will be his second trip to Japan this year following his victory over Kohei Kono to unify the WBA interim and WBA regular titles.
For those of you who remember Solis's fight with Kono it was a really fun fight. Both men had their moments in a give and take contest that saw Solis dropped early on before dropping Kono in the eighth and eeking out the decision late. For many that bout was so good and so close that they were calling for a rematch between the two men, instead however Solis has been inactive for 7 months.
Against Kono we saw a bit of everything from Solis. We saw him boxing and moving, we saw him going to war and brawling and we saw him showing his toughness. It was genuinely great.
Several months after Solis' victory against Kono, Daiki won the IBF title as he out pointed Mexican Rodrigo Guerrero in a contest that was fought in a much different manner. Against Guerrero we saw Daiki sticking, for the most part, to boxing and moving, being negative and trying to avoid too many moments of back and forth action. It was a forgettable contest for the most part, though there was a highlight reel tenth round as both men unloaded.
From having seen both of those fights again recently we are really hoping that this won't fall into a clash of styles. If both men attempt to box for 12 rounds then Daiki's speed could well be the difference in what could potentially be one of the worst fights of the year.
What is, thankfully, more likely is that the bout will have moments of ups and downs. Solis, despite being the shorter man, is expected to have a notable reach advantage and if he can use that to his effect he could prevent Daiki from being overly negative. If he can use that and force Daiki the bring some action to him we could have a number of rounds like the tenth of the Daiki/Guerrero bout.
We'll admit we're hoping that Solis has the ability to bring the best from Daiki. If he can then we may, again, see Solis involved in a great contest in Japan and a contest that is fitting the "unification" tag that this bout has. If we end up with a forgetable one however then we expect the Japanese will further slate the way the Japanese Boxing Commission has accepted the IBF.
It'd be a shame for the fans to refuse the IBF as organisation opens up new doors to major fighters. For example a possible Light Flyweight clash involving Johnriel Casimero and Kazuto Ioka, Ryo Miyazaki or Naoya Inoue, or a fight involving a Hisashi Amagasa and Evgeny Gradovich at Featherweight.
Oddly the winner here, despite being a unified champion, would likely only be viewed as the third best fighter at 115lbs behind both Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Omar Andres Narvaez, the WBC and WBO champions respectively. Interestingly both Narvaez and Srisaket have beaten Japanese fighters in recent bouts with Narvaez stopping Hiroyuki Hisataka and Srisaket stopping Hirofumi Mukai.
Early this year the Kameda family scored a boxing first as Tomoki joined brothers Daiki and Koki in having held a world title. This saw the Kameda brother's become the first trio to have held world titles.
Unfortunately whilst Koki and Tomoki both currently hold world titles poor Diaki (28-3, 18) is title-less despite having previously held the WBA Flyweight. On September 3rd however Daiki gets to join his brother and create history again as the first trio to hold titles simultaneously. In fact not only that but he also gets a chance to be Japan's third IBF champion, following Satoshi Shingaki and Katsunari Takayama.
To achieve both of those feats however the 24 year old "middle child" of the family will need to over-come the talented Mexican Rodrigo Guerrero (19-4-1, 12) in a battle for the vacant IBF Super Flyweight title, a title Guerrero has previously held.
Daiki is a controversial figure in Japanese boxing, arguably more so than older brother Koki. Although Koki has had several favourable decisions go his way Daiki's arguably more infamous due to his foul filled loss to Daisuke Naito, a bout in which Daiki was deducted 3 points and given a 12 months suspension.
Although the tag of "dirty fighter" has stuck with Daiki since the loss to Naito he has done a fair bit to change his image and has grown up from an 18 year old immature young man into a skilled and decent fighter. He's certainly not a special talent though he is very good and has scored notable victories over Denkaosan Kaovichit, Takefumi Sakata and Silvio Olteanu.
Evidence of how good Daiki is can be seen in his losses as much as his wins. All 3 losses have been in world title fights with the first coming to Naito, the second to Denkaosan Kaovichit and the third to Tepparith Kokietgym. These loss have seen Daiki recording a 3-3 record in world title bouts.
Unfortunately one of Daiki's biggest problems, like older brother Koki, is that he's not a big puncher and many of his fights, especially at world level, have gone to decision with an awful lot of them being close. He tends to get the win in the close ones but certainly doesn't do a lot of favours to win over the international fan base. Domestically however he has endeared himself to fans with post fight singing which has helped him gain a cult following despite his controversial status in the sport.
Guerrero, himself just 25, is a well regarded fighter who has impressed in a number of fights, even ones where he has been the loser. He first burst on to the consciousness of the hardcore fans in 2008 when he defeated the experienced Juan Alberto Rosas, the following year he would add a victory over Luis Maldonado before losing in his first world title bout against Vic Darchinyan.
Although Guerrero, then aged 22, was widely out pointed by Darchinyan he had put up a brave effort en route to the loss. He was unfortunate in his next loss suffering a split decision defeat at the hands of the very good Raul Martinez. A rematch with Martinez however saw Guerrero claiming the IBF Super Featherweight title thanks to 6th round technical decision.
Surprisingly having world so hard to win his world title Guerrero oddly let it slip from his grasp in his first defense losing to Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr just months after having claimed the title.
Since losing the title to Sanchez, Guerrero has scored 3 victories including a very impressive victory in Canada stopping Sebastien Gauthier. Interestingly however Sanchez's inability to make the 115lb weight has seen him stripped and the title made vacant, hence this bout being arranged.
Of the two men Guerrero has been the most impressive in his career. He's shown an ability to travel and still be dangerous, he's shown no fear against naturally bigger opponents and he's also demonstrated and ability to really hurt fighters with his power, tenacity and work rate. Sure he's had off nights such as his narrow victory over Federico Catubay but at his best he's an excellent fighter.
Unfortunately for Guerrero however there is a vast world of difference between fighting in Canada and the US to fighting in Japan. Although both Canada and the US away "away" venues for Guerrero they pale in "awayness" to Japan which could well play on Guerrero.
If both men turn up at the top of their game we expect this could be very special with Guerrero just doing enough to take a decision in Japan, if he's less than 100% then Daiki could well do enough to take the decision and his place in history, though it certainly will not be easy for the "Karaoke Kameda".
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.