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.
Japan's first, and only, 3-weight world champion Koki Kameda (31-1, 17) may well split opinion both in Japan and around the boxing world though he does know how to get attention.
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.
Courtesy of Boxrec.com
The always controversial Koki Kameda (30-1, 17) may well be the first 3-weight world champion in Japanese boxing history but he's a fighter who genuinely splits opinion like no other in Asia.
There are those who think Koki is great. He's a champion, he's claimed titles at 3 weights and he's a fighter who's bouts are extremely high profile and massively well watched.
There are of course others that dislike Koki. He's a loud mouth, he's cocky, he's easily matched, has had several controversial decisions in his favour and most tellingly he was filmed advising his brother to fight dirty in a major bout.
Whether you love him or hate Koki is big news in Japan.
On July 23rd Koki will be looking to score the 7th defense of his Bantamweight title as he takes on the WBA ranked #3 fighter John Mark Apolinario (17-2-3, 4) of the Philippines. A fighter who has twice drawn with former 2-weight world champion Roberto Vasquez in bouts for thhe WBA Bantamweight interim title.
The challenger fighting in Japan for the first time is seen as a giant under-dog though comes in to the bout undefeated in 8 bouts dating back more than 4 years. Incidentally Koki's own unbeaten run is also 8 bouts, though dates back just over 3 years and has been fought at a much higher level.
In terms of the competition the two men have faced Koki has been in with the much better fighters. He has faced legendary Thai's including Saman Sorjaturong and Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, former WBA interim Minimumweight champion Juan Jose Landaeta, Daisuke Naito, Alexander Munoz, David De La Mora and Hugo Ruiz all of whom are better than anyone Apolinario has faced.
As well as the competition, home advantage and experienced edge that Koki has he also has the more proven skills. Sure Apolinario has done 24 rounds with Vasquez but he certainly looked very limited in their second bout, a bout he was very fortunate to get a draw in. The challenger lacks he power needed to keep someone like Koki honest, he lacks the work rate to really push him and his movement is likely to become an issue here.
Koki for all his faults, and he has a lot, is a talented fighter. He is defensively very solid and often looks to land counter punches whilst using a high guard. At his best however Koki is a dominant front foot fighter who uses his fast hands to land clean shots to both the head and body of his opponent. Sadly it's been a while since we've really seen the best of Koki with arguably his bout against Mario Mcias being the most recent example.
Fortunately for Koki it's unlikely he'll need to be at his best to defeat Apolinario who in all honesty is a weak challenger. Dubbed the "Iceman" Apolinario will receive a cold reception from the crowd at the Tokyo Big Sight and from Kameda who will likely be set on making an impression after 3 less than impressive performances.
We're expecting Koki to take a round or 2 to see what Apolinario has got. Then as the champion grows in confidence he'll slowly break Apolinario down before probably forcing a stoppage in the middle rounds.
Many are hoping that if Kameda comes out of this with a win, as expected, he will face either the highly regarded Ryosuke Iwasa next or unify with WBC champion Shinsuke Yamanaka, a man some feel is the best Bantamweight on the planet.
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.