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)
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.