All Japanese title fights aren't that rare though they certainly aren't that common, despite how recent the Katsunari Takayama Vs Ryuji Hara fight was. Whilst they aren't rare by themselves we've never seen an all-Japanese world title fight place on US soil. That changes on October 16th when WBA Super Flyweight champion Kohei Kono (30-8-1, 13) takes on long term mandatory challenger Koki Kameda (22-1, 18) in bout that has been more than a year in the making.
The fight, which was ordered last year, has been a real wrangle between not only the fighters but also promoters, sanctioning bodies and national bodies. It's due to those wrangles that the bout takes place outside of Japan, with Kameda currently “banned” from fighting in Japan by the JBC. Although Kameda is banned by the JBC he's not got a worldwide ban, and given that the WBA did order this bout it's essentially forced Kono to take on Kameda.
There had been talk of the bout taking place in various places, such as Macau, the Philippines, South Korea and even Thailand, but in the end the money to fight in the US on a PBC show made more sense that staging the bout in Asia. As a result, the two men will face off in Chicago, it will be Kameda's 2nd US bout, and 5th bout outside of his native Japan whilst Kono will be making his international debut. Despite that both have fought numerous world level bouts and both are genuinely world class.
Although both are world level fighters it's fair to say Kameda is the more recognised name and the more experienced the top level. In fact he's a 3 weight world champion seeking a 4th divisional title here, and if he gets it he will set a Japanese record. As for Kono he's “merely” a 2-time Super Flyweight world champion.
Kameda's career has been one shrouded in success and controversy. As mentioned, he's a 3-weight world champion. The first of those titles was the WBA Light Flyweight title back which he won back in 2006 with a controversial win over Juan Jose Landaeta, the second was the WBC Flyweight title which he won by out pointing Daisuke Naito in 2009 whilst the third was the WBA Bantamweight title, that he won in 2010 with a win over Alexander Munoz.
In total Kameda has a very impressive 12-1 record in world title bouts. Those numbers are more impressive than his competition which, at times, has been thoroughly disappointing. That was especially true of his reign at Bantamweight where he faced Mario Macias, Nouldy Manakane and Jung-Oh Son, who almost managed to shock the boxing world in 2013 losing by split decision to Kameda.
Although not a great fighter as a Bantamweight Kameda is certainly a very talented fighter with great timing, a fantastic array of punches, impressive speed and genuine confidence. Stylistically he can box or he can fight as a pressure fighter, something he did much better at the lower weights where his natural strength was a key to his style. Notably he's a southpaw and one who uses his stance well with a good right hand jab and solid hooks.
At Bantamweight Kameda's power and strength was relatively ineffective and he found himself needing to box and move more often than forcing the fight with pressure. Despite the lack of power he did actually go unbeaten as a Bantamweight, and his only loss came at Flyweight to Thai great Pongsaklek Wonjongkam. In that bout Kameda was lazy, out boxed, out worked and out thought by the Thai legend, who put in one of his last great performances.
Kono's career certainly hasn't been as notable as Kameda's but he has been a popular fighter in his homeland where he has consistently proven to be a tough guy, in fact his nickname is the “Tough Boy”. Technically he's not the best but he's shown real desire through his career and has bounced back from numerous losses to become a champion, twice over. He's done that through will power a refusal to be just another contender. That desire to be a champion saw Kono claim a world title in his third attempt, following a Japanese, and two OPBF reigns.
Kono's desire to be a champion saw him turn a 25-7 (9) record into his current 30-8-1 (13) record. That may not look impressive but that's included 4 world titles, in which he's gone 2-1-1 (2) and 4 stoppages in his last 5 victories, a notable turn around in terms of his power. That power has improved not because he's stronger than he once was but because he's improved significantly from the fighter he used to be.
In 2012 there was talk of Kono retiring, he silenced that talk by knocking out the then WBA Super Flyweight champion Tepparith Kokietgym in 4 rounds. Although he lost the title in his first defense he would regain it just 2 fights later, knocking out Denkaosan Kaovichit in the 8th round and he recorded his first defense last December, exactly 2 years after he first won a world title.
Technically Kono is basic. There is nothing that will send the division into fear and there is nothing that will catch the eye as being amazing about him. Fundamentally he is slow, basic and relatively predictable. Despite that he's the sort of fighter who is still a difficult man to beat, he's tough, impossible to dissuade and hits harder than his record suggests.
On paper this fight can go two ways and they both depend more on Kameda than on Kono. If Kameda wants to box and move it's very hard to see him losing. He has the speed and ability to make life very easy for himself in a performance similar to the one he used against Naito. On the other hand if Kameda looks to make a point and attempts to fight Kono then life will be different with Kono really having a genuine chance against Kameda an he may well have the power needed to stop the cocky former multi-weight world champion.
We know that there is real animosity between these two, but we don't imagine that Kameda will fight a stupid fight and instead he will likely cruise to a wide decision victory using his speed and movement to secure the decision against the clumsier Kono.
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.