We'll admit it, we love Japanese fighters in action in the US. There seems to be something about US soil that brings out the best in Japanese warriors, as we saw last year with Nihito Arakawa's war with Omar Figueroa. That was again on show this weekend when Yoshihiro Kamegai (24-2-1, 21) took on multi-time world champion Robert Guerrero (32-2-1-2, 18) and the two men went toe-to-toe in a full on war.
The first round was all Guerrero as the American used his boxing ability to easily win the opener, from then on however the fight went from boxing to a war, the two men spend rounds stood toe-to-toe unloading bombs on each other as if defence was blasphemy.
Kamegai focussed his attack on the body of the American. It was clear that the Japanese fighter wanted to slow down Guerrero, take the wind from his sails then go for the kill in the later rounds. As for Guerrero he seemed happy to stand and trade with the Japanese fighter, neglecting his considerably better "boxing" skills to engage in the war. It was a foolish move tactically for Guerrero but made the fight so much more fun as they went hell for leather!
With it being a toe-to-toe war for vast swathes of the contest the momentum swayed one way and then the other. In roudn 2 it seemed to be Kamegai taking over, in round 3 Guerrero unloaded late to steal the round, in round 4 we had a real toss up with no neither man having a clear claim to the round. If we say the 4th was close then then the 5th was simply un-scoreble as neither man managed to do anythign to clearly win what may well go down as round of the year, or at least would have done had it not been for the recent Koki Eto/Ardin Diale fight where round 8 was even better than this one!
Kamegai scored his most notable moment of success in round 6 when he cut Guerrero, badly, over the left eye. The American however was able to control the damage, despite the eye getting progressively worse and, with both men tiring, the action became less frantic, though did remain very high paced.
Rounds 7, 8 and 9 were non stop action with one man, or the other, unloading towards their opponent with their bodies leaning on top of one another. It was that rare action that we all watch this sport for, it was insanely intense action, the thing that we, boxing fans, have as our ultimate high. Maybe not quite as high paced as a few rounds early but they were maing every shot count as they took it in terns to land hard shots on the other.
If the previous 3 rounds were fun then the final 3 rounds were something else as Kamegai looked exhausted in round 10 then looked on the charge in a dominant round 11. Sadly though Guerrero fought back exceptionally well with new found energy in the final round as things ebbed and flowed through the final rounds.
Sadly the US judging, which often leaves something to be desired, had the bout a dominant victory for Guerrero with scores of 117-111, twice, and 116-112 all of which seemed a little too wide. We have no problem with Guerrero winning but 116-112 was the absolute extreme we could have made with 115-113 our card.
Despite the loss Kamegai will have left a lasting impression on US fans and will be welcomed back sooner rather than later. Fights with Kamegai against someone like John Molina, Lucas Matthysse, Marcos Maidana, Ruslan Provodnikov, Brandon Rios or Mike Alvarado have "FOTY" written all over them so hopefully the powers that be can organise them.
There is talk about Guerrero fighting Amir Khan later this year, oddly we'd not rule out a fighter between Guerrero and Manny Pacquiao. It's a contest that makes a lot of sense right now and with Guerrero becoming a "hot property" after this fight it's a bout that would certainly have fan interest.
In a way no one lost this fight. Guerrero was supposed to win with ease and despite struggling he made new fans, Kamegai lost on the cards but will be welcomed back to the US for another great fight and the fans, well, the fans certain won big time.
For those curios about the Koki Eto/Ardin Diale fight. It can be seen, in full, here.
(Image courtesy of Teiken.com)
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