The two men, who fought in a thriller earlier this year, were expected to be in another thriller here. Tomoki was favoured by the bookies and the view in many quarters was that he would have learned from his first loss. The hope was that linking up with esteemed trainer Ismael Salas would help Tomoki correct the issues that cost him in his previous bout.
The opening round was close. In fact to split them was almost impossible as both jabbed and moved well in a high paced and highly skilled opening round. To score it either way would have been acceptable, as would a 10-10 round, it really was one of those rounds where the two men fought as near mirror images of each other.
The second round saw Kameda really kick things off and for 2 minutes of the round he looked brilliant putting McDonnell under pressure and landing most notable shots, including a very solid left hook. Having “sealed” the round after just 2 minutes Tomoki seemed to ease off the gas late in the round round and backed up, cruising the final 40 seconds or so. Sadly the backing up, which was final in that particular situation, became the story of the fight.
In round 3 it was McDonnell setting the pace and tempo of the fight as he came forward with a determined and intelligent march. Not only was McDonnell coming forward but he was doing it behind a busy jab that seemed to prevent Kameda from getting into a rhythm. Kameda did have have some success with his counters but his shots were often falling short whilst Mcdonnell out worked him and seemingly bullied him around the ring. It was the start of McDonnell's domination of the bout.
McDonnell built on his success from round 3 and by the middle rounds it seemed that the fight had had it's identity sorted with McDonnell instilling his will on to the fight at the expense of Tomoki who was forced to fight on the back foot, where he wasn't particularly strong. By round 8 it seemed like Tomoki would need to make a drastic change in tactics if he was to claim the victory here. He had managed to make rounds 5, 6 and 7 close, by landing the better shots, but he didn't seem to do quite enough to over-come McDonnell's work rate.
In round 9 we finally saw Tomoki actually shining with some solid right hands that landed clean on McDonnell's head. They didn't ever hurt the Englishman but they were the sort of shots that he was going to need to build his confidence and have any chance of defeating Mcdonnell.
Sadly for Tomoki his success from round 9 wasn't built on like it needed to be and in round 10 McDonnell got back to being in charge with Tomoki moving too much and throwing far too little in a round that had looked like many of the earlier rounds. The same could also be said of round 11 where it seemed clear that Tomoki would need a KO but refused to go for it.
If Mcdonnell hadn't done enough in the first 11 rounds he essentially sealed the deal in round 12 with a knockdown of Tomoki, albeit a slip-come-knockdown, that secured a 10-8 round. Tomoki did fight hard in the dying stages of the round but it was clear that it was far too little to over-come the knockdown, or much of the previous 10 rounds.
At the final bell the judges all favoured McDonnel with cards ranging from 115-112 to 117-111. They were varied but all seemed to be in the “acceptable range” given the competitiveness of rounds 1, 5,6 and 7. Despite the close rounds we couldn't see any way to give it to Tomoki with the best he could have expected expect being a 114-113 defeat.
For Tomoki this is a second successive defeat and it's likely he'll need to seriously rethink his career. He looked small in comparison to McDonnell and may well need to consider a move down to Super Flyweight if he can lose 3lbs. If not he'll likely find himself as a either a perennial contender or, if his confidence is shot, a stepping stone for the emerging generation of Bantamweights, including the really exciting Shohei Omori.
McDonnell has hinted in the past of a move to Super Bantamweight and we expect he'll add the 4lbs and move up. That will leave the title vacant and we wouldn't be surprised to see a number of interesting fighters, including Omori and Ryo Matsumoto, all be linked to that title in early 2016.
Whilst the fight wasn't as good as the first one the big issue we have was the commentary on CBS which seemed to sway people into believing Kameda did better than he really did. We began this by saying the judges can have off days, we dare say the commentator had a bad today. We have a lot of respect and time for the commentator in question so we will put it down to a bad day at the office and would hope that everyone who has scored this in favour of Kameda will rewatch it with the sound off.