On November 19th Koki again gets the attention of the boxing world as he travels to Jeju in South Korea to defend his WBA Bantamweight title for the eighth time. Whilst it's a great personal achievement to defend your title so many times the big talking point is the fact that this will be the first world title fight in South Korea since In-Jin Chi defeated Rodelfo Lopez for the WBC Featherweight title all the way back in December 2006.
South Korea, once a dominant player in world boxing, has been a country that has all but fallen off the boxing radar in the last decade. The likes of In-Chul Baek, Sung-Kil Moon, Myung-Woo Yuh and of course Jung-Koo Chang are all distant memories.
With those great names well and truly retired the hopes of a country now lie with little known fighters, most notable Jung-Oh Son (20-4-2, 6), the man who will be looking to upset Kameda and put Korea back on the boxing map.
Although Son has got 26 professional bouts on his ledger this is widely seen as a "gimme" fight for Kameda a may who appears to be looking for a stay of absence before being forced to fight Anselmo Moreno. Though is it as much of a mismatch as many think, or could this be a nasty banana skin for Kameda?
One of the first things you notice when you look at Son's record is that he has 4 losses. What his record alone doesn't tell you though is that those 4 losses came very early in his career, in fact Son started his career 7-4-1 with 3 of those losses coming away from home. Since 2006 however he has gone 14 fights unbeaten and won South Korean titles at Flyweight and Super Flyweight whilst also winning the PABA Super Flyweight title. Sure he's never won a world title but that's still not a bad run for such a huge under-dog.
As well as the run and confidence of Son it's also worth noting that the Korean hasn't lost at home since a 2006 defeat to Federico Catubay a man who also beat former world champion Yo-Sam Choi in South Korea.
Alongside those features about Son is the fact that Koki himself hasn't fought away from home since 2008 when he twice fought in Mexico. That's not just 5 years ago but also 13 fights ago. When he was fighting in Mexico he wasn't the man looking to stop a countries dreams, here was merely a visitor, this time however the crowd may turn on him quickly, especially when you consider the history between Japan and Korea.
In terms of skills Koki is easily a class above of Son. He's a clever fighter who can box on the back foot as a very good counter puncher, he can also come forward using his fast hands to fight as the aggressor. Although he is flawed, notably lacking power, he is very talented and is a credible world level fighter. Not the best in the division but still very credible.
Son on the other hand is much more limited. Like Kameda he lacks power though he also has somewhat unproven credentials at the world level. Sure is is unbeaten in his last 14 bouts but his highest profile wins in that run are over the likes of Ryan Bito, an international level journeyman.
Whilst footage of Son is hard to find his nickname of "Hurricane" should sort of give you a hint of the style of fighter that he is. He's busy, offensive minded but still limited. We actually think this style of Son will play into the hands of Kameda who will turtle up when Son goes on the offensive then pick him off with accurate and hurtful counters.
Son will go in as a clear under-dog and whilst we believe that Kameda will win we actually expect Son to give a good account of himself, especially early on, before being worn down down the stretch. Due to Koreans being incredibly tough both mentally and physically we do expect Son to make it to the final bell but we think he'll be struggling through the final few rounds.
If Kameda gets through this the likeliness is that he will face Moreno next year. We hope that we get to see that bout as it promises to be something special, though we do think that Kameda will struggle with the wonderfully talented Panamanian. Then again if Kameda is looking past Son he may find himself out worked here in what is a tougher assignment than many seem to think.