By - George Delis (@Delisketo)
On July 13, Tomoki Kameda returns to the US, after 4 years, to clash with Rey Vargas for the WBC Super Bantamweight World Championship.
The younger brother of Koki and Daiki Kameda, Tomoki belongs in one of the most successful families in the history of boxing, with all 3 siblings eventually winning the big one. Unlike most Japanese fighters who stay and train in Japan, Tomoki moved to Mexico when he was just 15 years old, in order to learn more about the sport and to hone his craft. He managed to reach the finals of the Guantes de Oro Tournament (Mexican for Golden Gloves) but lost, ironically enough, to Rey Vargas. Because of his young age, he wasn’t allowed to compete in the 2008 Olympic Games, so instead of waiting, Tomoki decided to turn pro.
Tomoki (36-2 / 20 KOs) became quite popular in Mexico, since he spent the vast majority of his career there, earning the nickname El Mexicanito. His style of fighting used to be quite aggressive, which was evident by his KO ratio. Prior to winning the world title, he finished 18 of his 27 pro bouts. Some of his early career big victories included numerous world title contenders like Eduardo Garcia, Marlon Marquez and Noldi Manakane, plus securing the WBC Silver Bantamweight title.
On August 1st 2013, Tomoki made history on multiple fronts when he defeated Paulus Ambunda, who was 20-0 at the time, for the WBO Bantamweight World championship, in the Philippines. Not only did he become the first ever Japanese boxer to hold a WBO World title, but also after Daiki’s world title victory in September of the same year, the Kamedas earned a place at the Guinness World Records for “most siblings to win boxing world titles”.
As World champion, he adapted a more technical style, a “safer” style, in comparison to his former much wilder approach. El Mexicanito marked 3 successful title defenses, against Immanuel Naidjala, interim champion Alejandro Hernandez as well as former World champion Panya Uthok. Out of all 3, his bout with Uthok was the toughest. With 46 wins on his record and only 2 decision losses, the Thai boxer kept rocking Tomoki in every round, stunning him on multiple occasions throughout the match. The tide turned during the 7th round, when Kameda started nailing Uthok with a couple of uppercuts, thus creating an opening to throw a devastating liver shot that dropped the former champ down for the count. That was the first time Uthok has been stopped in his career. Tomoki was declared “fighter of the month” (July 2014) by the WBO, after that performance.
In May of 2015, Tomoki was scheduled to face the WBA (Regular) Bantamweight Champion Jamie McDonnell, in a unification bout. However, since the WBO wouldn’t sanction the fight, he relinquished his belt so he could compete for the WBA championship. Despite dropping McDonnell in the 3rd, the Japanese challenger didn’t do much in the rest of the fight, thus failing to capture the gold. Their rematch in September saw both men in a very close encounter, going back and forth, in an exciting affair. Tomoki could have been crowned the new champion but McDonnell made sure he was leaving Texas with his belt when he scored a knockdown in the last round, swaying the judges in his favor.
When Tomoki returned to action, after a 13 month hiatus, he decided to move up to Super Bantamweight. In his match with Daniel Noriega (May 2018) we saw glimpses of the old Mexicanito, fighting in a much more aggressive pace, even dropping Noriega in the 5th round. After going 4-0 at this new weight class, he was involved in an interim WBC title fight, this past November, with the EBU European champion Abigail Medina. Kameda controlled the pace from the get go, punishing his rival with fasts jabs, strong hooks and some perfectly placed body shots. In the end, Tomoki earned himself a unanimous decision victory and the interim WBC strap. Now he will finally have the opportunity to meet Vargas in the ring again, for a shot at the gold.
Rey Vargas (33-0 / 22 KOs) has spent the majority of his life boxing. During his amateur days, he accumulated 7 national titles as well as the 2009 Pan-American championship. A year later, he made his pro debut. He was still 19 at the time.
Much like Tomoki, he used to be much more tenacious in the ring. Up until 2016, he had finished 22 out of his 28 fights, including stoppages over former world title challengers like Silvester Lopez, Christian Esquivel, Cecilio Santos and Juanito Rubillar. His speed and reach advantage were enough to give him the edge over most of his opponents.
Vargas’ 1st major win was against former 2 time WBA Super Flyweight World champion Alexander Munoz, in September of 2016. The young Mexican star dropped the veteran four times within five rounds, twice with the right hook, once with an uppercut and finished the job in the 5th with a straight right to secure the WBC International Silver title and the #1 contendership.
In 2017, he fought Gavin McDonnell for the vacant WBC Super Bantamweight crown. Despite taking a lot of damage in the later rounds, he managed to survive that and come out with the World championship. Since then, Vargas has defended his title 4 times against Ronny Rios, Oscar Negrete, Azat Hovhannisyan and Franklin Manzanilla. Even though his speed and head movement were still there, his aggressiveness wasn’t. In all of these last 5 bouts, he was content to keep his competition at bay and to just win on the judges scorecards. No doubt this will be the strategy for his upcoming fight too.
All in all, it’s safe to assume that Tomoki vs. Vargas will not be a crowd pleaser. Yes, we are talking about 2 really skilled boxers, with a lot of finesse and technique, but both lack the explosiveness that once made them popular. Vargas is most likely to walk out of California the victor as he’s going to use his reach and prohibit Tomoki from coming near him but if somehow El Mexicanito manages to close the distance, he might have a chance at officially becoming a 2 division world champion. We will find out for sure this Saturday night.
By - George Delis (@Delisketo)
On November 12, in the legendary Korakuen Hall, Tomoki Kameda will try to become a 2 division world champion as he takes on Abigail Medina for the interim WBC Super Bantamweight World Championship.
The younger brother of Koki and Daiki Kameda, Tomoki belongs in one of the most successful families in the history of boxing, will all 3 siblings eventually winning the big one. Unlike most Japanese fighters who stay and train in Japan, he moved to Mexico when he was just 15 years old, in order to learn more about the sport and to hone his craft. Tomoki managed to reach the finals of the Guantes de Oro Tournament (Mexican for Golden Gloves) and only lost to the current WBC Super Bantamweight World Champion, Rey Vargas. Because of his young age, he wasn’t allowed to compete in the 2008 Olympic Games, so instead of waiting, Tomoki decided to turn pro.
Tomoki (35-2 / 20 KOs) became quite popular in Mexico, since he spent the vast majority of his career in that country, earning the nickname El Mexicanito. His style of fighting used to be very aggressive, which was evident by his KO ratio. Prior to winning the world title, he finished 18 of his 27 pro bouts. Some of his early career big victories included numerous world title contenders like Eduardo Garcia, Marlon Marquez and Noldi Manakane, plus securing the WBC Silver Bantamweight championship.
On August 1st 2013, Tomoki made history on multiple fronts when he defeated Paulus Ambunda, who was 20-0 at the time, for the WBO Bantamweight World Championship, in the Philippines. Not only did he become the first ever Japanese boxer to hold a WBO World title, but also after Daiki’s world title victory in September of the same year, the Kamedas earned a place at the Guinness World Records for “most siblings to win boxing world titles”.
As World champion, he adapted a more technical style, a “safer” style, in comparison to his former much wilder approach. El Mexicanito marked 3 successful title defenses, against Immanuel Naidjala, interim champion Alejandro Hernandez as well as former World champion Panya Uthok. Out of all 3, his bout with Uthok was the toughest. With 46 wins on his record and only 2 decision loses, the Thai boxer kept rocking Tomoki in every round, stunning him on multiple occasions throughout the match. The tide turned during the 7th round, when Kameda started nailing Uthok with a couple of uppercuts, thus creating an opening to throw a devastating liver shot that dropped the former champ down for the count. That was the first time Uthok has been stopped in his career. Tomoki was declared “fighter of the month” (July 2014) by the WBO, after that performance.
In May of 2015, Tomoki was scheduled to face the WBA Bantamweight World Champion Jamie McDonnell, in a unification bout. However, the WBO wouldn’t sanction the fight so Tomoki relinquished his belt so he could compete for the WBA championship. Despite dropping McDonnell in the 3rd round, the Japanese challenger didn’t do much in the rest of the fight, thus failing to capture the gold. Their rematch in September saw both men in a very close encounter, going back and forth, in an exciting affair. Tomoki could have been crowned the new champion but McDonnell made sure he was leaving Texas with his belt when he scored a knockdown in the last round, swaying the judges in his favour.
When Tomoki returned to the ring after a 13 month hiatus, he moved up a weight class and has been undefeated in his last 4 matches. In his most recent bout against Daniel Noriega, this past May, we saw glimpses of the old Mexicanito, fighting in a much more aggressive pace, even dropping Noriega in the 5th round. Now three years removed from his previous world title contest, Tomoki will try and capture another division’s grand prize, but in order to do so, he must go through first the EBU European champion Abigail Medina (19-3 / 10 KOs).
Medina has also been a pro for 10 years, but unlike Tomoki, he doesn’t have the same level of experience or success. His biggest victories are against fellow European champions Jeremy Parodi (42-4), Anthony Settoul (23-7) and one time world title contender Martin Ward (26-4). Specifically, he stopped Settoul in the first round with body punches, a weapon that Tomoki also uses frequently in his matches, while he stopped Ward, in just 2 rounds, after repeatedly kept knocking him down with a vicious right punch to the head. His style of fighting actually resembles Kameda’s old “Mexican style” a lot.
Comparing these 2 boxers, Tomoki certainly has the advantage here. He’s the younger, much more experienced competitor and with a better record. Medina however is way more hungry at this stage of his career. He knows this will probably be his one and only shot at the World Championship. Moreover, Medina’s been undefeated since 2014, with 10 wins and 5 stoppages, proving he’s an aggressive striker. On the other hand, if we see the Tomoki of old, on November 12, we are almost guaranteed that Japan will have another World champion, before the year is over. For Mexicanito, winning the interim WBC title, it will be the perfect opportunity to set a future collision with the man that defeated him 10 plus years ago, Rey Vargas, avenging his only amateur loss. So who will it be? We will find out in a week’s time, in Tokyo, Japan!
Earlier this year we saw Tomoki Kameda (31-1, 19), the youngest of the 3 fighting Kameda brothers, suffer his first defeat as he can up just short against the under-rated British warrior Jamie McDonnell (26-2-1, 12). Prior to the bout Kameda had vacated the WBO belt in an attempt to claim the WBA title though unfortunately for him he finished up with nothing other than a black mark on his record.
Although Kameda did come up short against McDonnell the Japanese fighter has invoked a rematch clause as he attempts to become a 2-time world champion and avenge his first defeat. Sadly for Kameda he no longer goes into the bout with the confidence of an unbeaten fighter, though he does appear to still have the Kameda arrogance even if he has changed one or two things since the first bout with McDonnell.
As a fighter Kameda is a boxer-mover. He has some of the fastest hands in the Bantamweight division and throws some of the best combinations in the sport. At his best he looks sensational and incredibly flashy with a style that is easy on the eye and fun to watch. Sadly though his best is own shown in glimpses and he can often be found moving too much, switching off or trying to be too cute. In many ways his biggest flaws aren't his skills but instead his mentality, which has come into question in each of his last two bouts.
Whilst Kameda is a flashy and exciting fighter his style does come at the expense of his power. We know he can hit hard, and in fact he dropped McDonnell in their first meeting, and he lands enough clean shorts to keep opponents honest. Sadly though he doesn't hit as hard as he perhaps needs to at the world level, despite showing impressive stopping ability against current WBO champion Pungluang Sor Singyu. The flashy combos have very little sting on them and whilst they win rounds they don't deter opponents.
Hopefully Kameda will have “grown up” since his loss. The loss was, at least in part, down to Kameda switching off after a very bright start. Had he shown more maturity he would possibly still be unbeaten today and looking towards unification bouts not looking to try and right what he feels was a wrong.
When it comes to McDonnell we have a real battler with a fantastic work rate and an incredible will to win. We don't mean to be harsh when we say this but McDonnell doesn't have the great level of skill, but he more than makes up for that through sheer bloody-mindedness. Unlike many fighters with a great engine McDonnell isn't reckless with his aggression, and although he throws a lot of punches he's not defensively open, though can take a shot when he is tagged, which makes him a really hard fighter to beat. He's not unbeatable but he is difficult to beat.
Like many busy fighters McDonnell is much better coming forward than he is on the back foot. He's also some what suspect early on and it can take a few rounds for his engine to really get going. When he's at full speed however he's a nightmare. Like Kameda though he has shown, more than once, than he too can turn off for large portions of bouts and has admitted in the past that he needs big bouts to bring the best out of him and get his juices going. We suspect this will be a big enough bout, however there is a chance that he may feel he's going over old ground and may not turn in as solid a performance as he did last time out.
We know above we said Kameda was partly responsible for his loss when these two men first fought and it is true. Of course it was also McDonnell's will to win and that really was what separated the men, McDonnell simply wanted it more and that was shown in the final round as Kameda floundered for 3 minutes whilst McDonnell went to work. That round was essentially the difference between the two men in what was a really close fight, it was the difference between winning and losing.
Coming into the rematch we're expecting another ultra-close bout with the winner decided by whoever has their head on right. If Kameda fights to his potential and stays on the ball we think he'll take the decision however Kameda at 99% will come up short again if McDonnell has taken this seriously. We know the Englishman has an eye on moving to Super Bantamweight in the near future and it could be that his focus is there and not on this bout. We have seen him over-look opponents in the past and it could be that his win over Kameda the first time around could have him over-look him here.
The only thing we're certain on in regards to this fight is that it will be another brilliant contest between two genuinely world class Bantamweights. Something we'll see again later this month when Shinsuke Yamanaka defends his WBC title against Anselmo Moreno. Hopefully the winners will collide in the near future.
For those who missed the first bout we've included it below.
Tomoki Kameda battles Jamie McDonnell but who will finish the night as the WBA Bantamweight champion*
Although it's not the strongest division in the sport it's fair to say that the Bantamweight division is warming up quickly and we're set for a very exciting couple of years at 118lbs. At the moment the divisional #1, by some margin, is Shinsuke Yamanaka, and behind him is a handful of fellow Japanese fighters such as Ryosuke Iwasa, Ryo Akaho, Ryo Matsumoto, Tomoki Kameda and Shohei Omori. It's possible that by the end of 2015 Japan could have 5 world champions in the division.
The next bout of note in the division features the aforementioned Tomoki Kameda (31-0, 19) who has vacated the WBO title ahead of his upcoming bout, but the bout still promises a lot as he takes on WBA “regular” champion Jamie McDonnell (25-2-1, 12) of the UK.
When the bout was first mooted it was set to be a WBO/WBA unification contest however the WBO made a worthwhile stand and made it clear they weren't going to be recognising the WBA's secondary titles. As a result they have stripped Kameda for participating in the contest and left the WBA regular title as the only one up for grabs. That however doesn't change the fact that this is a brilliant match up and something that is really mouth watering. In fact it's a genuine highlight for a month, that is full of highlights.
For those who are unaware Tomoki is the youngest of the controversial Kameda boxing brothers and appears to be the most talented by far. He's a pure boxer who can really do almost everything in the ring. He's light on feet, throws blistering combinations, counters beautifully and can switch from head to body with no issues. The one flaw in his game, if we can call it a flaw, is that does lack fight ending power but he does hit hard enough to hurt foes, as seen with his devastating body shot against Pungluang Sor Singyu back in 2014.
Like his brothers Tomoki is currently banned from fighting in Japan. However that hasn't been much of an issue for the charismatic youngster who is fluent in Spanish and has been signed by powerful American “advisor” Al Haymon who seems to like the Japanese youngster and has so backed him with this being his 3rd US bout in a row. Given his ability and style we suspect he'll continue to be fighting in the US for the foreseeable future and he could well be the Japanese star that goes on to really make it big in the US.
McDonnell on the other hand is volume puncher who has a sensational engine and seems to get stronger as the fight goes on. He does however have a lot of question marks about his shot selection, overall ability and general attitude inside the ring. At his best he's a handful and wins over the likes of Stephane Jamoye, Stuart Hall and Julio Ceja all look excellent on paper. At his worst however he struggles with the likes of Abigail Medina and Javier Nicolas Chacon, who both asked real questions of McDonnell's “world class” ability.
Whilst the 29 year old McDonnell does make us question him a lot, we do suspect that he's had an issue “getting up” for fights. He's has been matched awfully at times and it's little wonder if he's lacking motivation considering some of the hilarious mismatches he's been involved in. That motivation may well have shown in performances where he has just “gone through the motions”. If however there is more to it than just a lack of motivation it may well turn out that McDonnell is on the back end of his career and his famed gas tank is now running empty.
When the two get in the ring we're expecting to see a bout that pits McDonnell's basic but busy pressure against against the smart boxing and moving of Kameda who will move in and out with bursts of sharp and accurate flurries. The between the two style wise is huge however the biggest difference is actually likely to be the footwork with McDonnell often having questionable footwork whilst Tomoki is like a cat on his feet. That will work massively for the Japanese fighter who will be able to control range, lure McDonnell in and counter with ease against his wild foe.
To McDonnell's credit we don't see him being too hurt by Tomoki however we do see him being thoroughly out boxed and out smarted en route a wide decision victory for Tomoki.
This might not be a unification but it is a damned good bout!
(Image courtesy of www.premierboxingchampions.com)
At their best title unification bouts allow us to recognise the best fighter in a division. Sadly those unifications are becoming less and less common. What we're getting instead are more champion Vs interim champion unification bouts. It's a shame but it seems to be the way with boxing right now.
The first "unification" of November will see the unbeaten WBO Bantamweight champion Tomoki Kameda (30-0, 19) defending his belt against WBO interim champion Alejandro Hernandez (28-10-2, 15), a man with a truly misleading record. It may not be the unification that any of us want to see at Bantamweight but it is still a very interesting bout and one that will almost certainly be interesting due to the styles, strengths and weaknesses of the two men involved.
Before we get on to the actual bout there is something that needs saying. That is that we think many American fans are going to be looking forward to this one courtesy of the fact they have seen Tomoki in action before. For the Japanese fighter this will be his second successive bout in the US following his last defense of the belt, a 7th round KO against Pungluang Sor Singyu in a finish that was really memorable courtesy of the fact it came from a single well placed and paralysing body shot.
For those who did see Tomoki's last bout but none of his others they may shocked to hear what we're about to say, but Tomoki isn't a puncher. The stoppage he scored last time out against the teak tough Pungluang wasn't a case of Tomoki having power but rather his skills, speed and punch selection which saw him landing a quick shot to an unprotected part of Pungluang's body and catching him in such a way that the Thai fighter was effectively rendered unable to continue from the agony.
Tomoki's really outstanding traits are his speed and skills. He has speed with both his hands and feet and can fight on the move with blurring combinations in an aggressive mentality or his can box behind a sharp lightning quick jab, or he can fight as a pure counter puncher, drawing opponents in and countering. Depending on his opponent he can fight as a chameleon, something very few fighters can do. It's the ability of Tomoki to alter his tactics that make him such a great boxer, he can adapt on the fly and go from combination puncher to counter puncher as and when he wants. He can chase an opponent when he's confident or he has them hurt, or he can force an opponent to chase him whilst using his light feet to get out of range.
Although not a puncher Tomoki does have power that will make most fighters respect him. It helps that he can deliver a huge variety of shots and at lightning quick speed but he's not a puncher and if someone can take his shots and make him work hard to create the distance he needs then they can make life very difficult for him. We saw that at times in the Pungluang fight and we've also saw it, a little bit, against Paulus Ambunda. Of course however not many top fighters at Bantamweight today are pure pressure fighters and it could be that there isn't a good enough pressure fighter to really give Tomoki too many issues.
When it comes to Hernandez we're talking about one of the sports real tough guys. In his 40 bouts he has failed to go the distance just once, when he suffered a damaged hand against multi-weight world champion Leo Santa Cruz. Although he's picked up losses in that time he has regularly fought at a very high level and as a result suffered losses to world class fighters, such as Omar Andres Narvaez, Carlos Tamara, the aforementioned Santa Cruz and Akifumi Shimoda. In all honesty he is probably the second or third best fighter with double digit losses, behind only Orlando Salido.
Despite suffering losses to many of the bigger names that he has fought Hernandez has actually scored some solid results himself. That includes a win over Gilberto Keb Baas, a draw with Marvin Sonsona and recent wins over Marvin Mabait and Daniel Rosas, wins that have helped to win the interim world title. Aged 28 Hernandez has been a professional since he was 15 and has had to carve out a career the hard way. He's not had the favours of some other fighters and instead has had to do things the hard way, the very hard way. That means he's had to fight on the road and has already fought in the US, Argentina, Nicaragua, Canada and Japan.
Although not the most naturally skilled fighter Hernandez has all the traits that makes fight very difficult for more talented fighters. He's stubborn, tough and keeps coming. None of his shots may have truly concussive power but they are hurtful, constant and often come from relatively unusual angles, especially his straight right which is very odd when he throws it. His ability to go 12 rounds at a decent pace is a real serious quality and unless someone can really discourage him we suspect they are in for a hard 12 rounds,
With what Hernandez brings to the table we do suspect he'll give Tomoki some problems, especially in the later rounds, but for the most part Tomoki's speed, movement and elusiveness should help him take a clear decision. We suspect Tomoki will have to work hard every round. There won't be any gimme's, however Tomoki should do more than enough in many of the rounds to take a clear, but very hard fought decision in a fight we suspect will be more competitive than the scorecards would suggest at the end of 12 tough rounds.
(Image courtesy of http://www.warriorsboxing.com)
Right now the Bantamweight division is one of the most interesting in Asian boxing. At the top of the tree we have WBC champion Shinsuke Yamanaka, arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter currently plying his trade in Asia, and close behind him with have a list of other top fighters each looking for their chance to claim a world title at 118lbs.
That list, which include Ryosuke Iwasa, Malcolm Tunacao, Suriyan Sor Rungvisai, Tepparith Kokietgym, Marlin Tapalaes, Mark Anthony Geraldo, Richard Pumicpic, Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym, Kentaro Masuda, Daiki Kameda and Drian Francisco amongst others is just showing the depth in the division and just how cramped it is up there for contenders, who really should be fighting between themselves to try and earn a mandatory position.
Between the contenders and Yamanaka is current WBO champion Tomoki Kameda (29-0, 18) who will be defending his WBO title for the second time as he takes on mandatory challenger Pungluang Sor Singyu (46-2, 31). This bout has been an on-going saga that began at the start of the year and will finally come to an end when the men finally get in the ring together on July 12th and battle it out in Las Vegas.
The bout is in Las Vegas after the camps of the two fighters agreed to have it outside of their respective homelands. For Kameda that was an obvious move as he can't actually get a license in Japan unless he wants to move gyms, something he has been unwilling to do so far. As for Pungluang we can only assume he has been offered a handsome pay package to give away home advantage, a price that Kameda's have been willing to pay due to the poor history Japanese fighters have had in Thailand. As a result the bout won't be shown live in Japan and due to the other bouts on the show in the US the bout is unlikely to be shown to the masses in the US, though is expected to feature on Sho Extreme as well Boxnation and, fingers crossed, a Thai channel as well.
Thankfully despite the issues surrounding the bout it does actually seem likely to be a brilliant clash between two men widely regarded as being amongst the top 10 in the Bantamweight division. Stylistically we're expecting something a bit special with the styles of the two men likely to gel very well and we're expecting it to also be competitive.
Of the two men the most versatile is Kameda who can fight on the front foot or the back foot. He's shown great footwork against pressure and he's also shown that he can take the initiative when wants. Compared to his brother's he's by far the most rounded of the 3 Kameda's though, just like Koki and Daiki, he does have his flaws and one of which is his lack of power which often fails to stop fighters trying to walk him down, and sometimes his mentality which can make fights closer than they should be.
With Kameda being able to box on the front foot with intelligent aggression or the back foot with sharp counter punching he does seem like a hard man to beat though we tend to feel that his lack of power would leave him in problems if an aggressively minded fighter had decent footwork, something Paulus Ambunda, his best opponent to date, lacked.
In Pungluang we have a somewhat basic fighter but one who does a lot of the basics very well. He's a come forward pressure fighter, like most Thai's, who keeps it tight defensively, applies very intense pressure and attacks both the head and body well. Although short for the weight he cuts distance very well and is extremely strong, tough and hard working.
Although fundamentally predictable Pungluang is a fighter who appears to be draining both mentally and physically. He won't back off from a fighter, he won't stop coming forward and he won't stop trying to beat you down. This draining effect of Pungluang's as seen when he scored his most notable win, a 9th round stoppage against AJ Banal.
What we're expecting to see is a determined and fired up Pungluang applying his typical pressure against Tomoki and the Japanese fighter being forced to box off the back foot. This should be similar to Tomoki Kameda's fight with Ambunda though we do think that Pungluang will manage to up the ante and get closer to Tomoki. If the Thai can get close, work the body and really take the fight to the champion then we actually feel we may see the title change hands here and Pungluang could well become a 2-time world champion.
From what we understand this is likely to be Kameda's last fight at Bantamweight before he moves up to Super Bantamweight. We actually think the young Japanese fighter will be better suited to 122lbs but he's trained hard for this one and would hate to leave the division following his first loss. We don't think he'll cut corners but we do fancy the Thai to take advantage of any struggles Tomoki has at making 118lbs.
(Image courtesy of OnesongChai)
At the start of this year just one of the three Kameda's had never won a world title. That changed in August as Tomoki Kameda (28-0, 18) managed to defeat Namibia's Paulus Ambunda to claim the WBO Bantamweight title.
As a result of Tomoki's victory over Ambunda the youngest of the Kameda brothers became the first ever Japanese fighter to win a WBO world title and also saw his family getting their place in the Guinness book of World Records as the first trio of brothers to become world champions.
Now Tomoki returns to the ring for the first time since claiming that title and battles Ambunda's unbeaten countryman Immanuel Naidjala (17-0-1, 11).
Although unknown outside of Namibia Naidjala is a fighter who has gotten himself a solid reputation inside his homeland. As well as his reputation he has also been well managed as he's climbed up to #6 in the WBO's Bantamweight world rankings with out beating anyone of note.
Having been a professional since 2009 Naidjala began his career with 16 straight wins before being held to a draw by Botswana's unherladed Lesley Sekotswe. Sekotswe, who was traveling to Namibia for the fight, made Naidjala look limited to say the least. Naidjala often looked wild and crude, although strong he was chasing shadows at times and being popped by the jab at others as he was made to look very much like a C-rate fighter, a long way short of what his reputation would have you believe.
Since that draw Naidjala has recorded another victory, claiming the IBF International Bantamweight title by stopping Emilio Norfat in the eighth round. Interestingly this was the seecond time Naidjala had faced Norfat who lost a very oddly scored contest to Naidjala in 2012.
With the limitations of Naidjala being clearly visible in the footage available it's hard not to envision Tomoki doing as he pleases with the challenger. The jab of the champion will almost certainly land at will and the movement of Tomoki, which frustrated Ambunda through out their contest, will see Naidjala chasing him and being reckless.
One thing Naidjala does appear to have in his favour is a genuine toughess. He looks like one of those "teak tough Africans" that can take a lot of punishment without folding though that's unlikely to do him any real favours here as he eats jabs, straights hooks and uppercuts from the champion who dominates from the opening bell to the final bell.
If Naidjala can land one of his wild shots he may be able to give Tomoki some momentary trouble but it's doubtful that'll do anything more than that.
We're hoping that if Tomoki is successful, as we assume he will be, he'll take up the challenge of Shinsuke Yamanaka next time out. A 2014 clash between Tomoki and Yamanaka will certain be on our dream list of fights we want next year. Unfortunately we're expecting Tomoki to decline that challenge, for now.
Interestingly the WBO's world rankings at Bantamweight do leave some very interesting alternatives to the Yamanaka contest. Tomoki against any of Pungluang Sor Singyu, Ryosuke Iwasa, Marvin Mabait, Kohei Oba, Ryo Akaho, AJ Banal or Konosuke Tomiyama would all be bouts that we'd tune in for!
Courtesy of Boxrec.com
When both of your older brothers have claimed world titles it's fair to say that pressure is on your back not to let the family down when you get your first chance.
For the 22 year old Tomoki Kameda (27-0, 18) that's the position he finds himself in at the start of August.
The unbeaten Tomoki, the younger brother of both Koki and Daiki, has seen both of his brothers claim world titles already. He'll be looking to join them when he faces unbeaten Namibian Paulus Ambunda (20-0, 10) for the WBO Bantamweight title.
Ambunda is best known for his stunning victory earlier this year over Thai Pungluang Sor Singyu, who was defending the WBO belt for the first time when Ambunda upset him in a very hard fought decision. Though other than the victory over Sor Singyu not too much really stands out about the champion's record.
Japanese native Tomoki really made his name in Mexico. Whilst his two older brothers were fighting at home in Japan and picking up various world titles between them Tomoki was quietly claiming regional titles like the WBC FECARBOX Bantamweight title and the WBC Youth World Bantamweight title whilst honing his skills.
Although fighting a long way from home Tomoki was welcomed in Mexico by fans who dubbed him "El Mexicanito" ("The little Mexican") and warmed quickly to his aggressive style. It was in Mexico that he scored arguably his best victory, a thin decision over Stephane Jamoye (the current Europe Bantamweight champion).
In recent fights Tomoki has returned to his homeland and actually won his last 2 bouts in Japan including a stoppage of Nouldy Manakane, a man who challenged Koki for the WBA Bantamweight title just last year.
Ambunda, the champion, is 32 years old and has yet to fight outside of his homeland. This fight, scheduled for Cebu City in the Philippines, may be on neutral ground but will be his first away from home, an issue that may effect him.
From what we've managed to see of Ambunda he seems to be a teak tough bundle of energy. He's able to sit in the trenches and go to war with fighters if they want a battle or he's able to cut the ring off and impose himself if heeds to. Whilst it's fair to say he's not a concussive puncher, his last 4 bouts have all gone the 12 round distance, he does hit hard enough to make a tough fighter thing twice and he appeared to shake up Sor Singyu several times in their bout.
One thing that is incredibly notable about Ambunda is his size. He stands at around 5'0" (possibly 5'1" with shoes on). This makes him a tiny fighter, especially in the Bantamweight division. Sure he's shown the ability to slip shots and get inside taller fighters but the likes of Bongani Mahlangu and William Prado are not on par with Tomoki.
Although Tomoki will have around 7" in height and significant reach advantage we're not too sure whether he'll really use that to his advantage. He has shown the ability to fight with a jab and box at range though he has often looked more comfortable mixing it on the inside. If he gets dragged in to an inside battle here he may come undone against the energetic champion.
We're certain that if Tomoki, seen as the most talented of the 3 Kameda's, can fight on the outside here and maintain a control of the distance he should manage to claim a decision. If he can't create that much needed space then we could well see Amdunda, known as the rock, out toughing Tomoki in what could well be a fight of the year contender.
Note-A victory for Tomoki would see him becoming Japan's first ever WBO world champion
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.