Typically this series has looked at bouts that have been controversial due to the man who deserved the win getting denied their victory. Today we're looking at something a little bit different. This time the right guy got the win, but the controversy wasn't easy to ignore. In fact the controversy was huge with implications that went beyond the scope of just who won and lost. It resulted in lengthy suspensions, laid the ground work to sell another bout on and had been a very personal battle for the two men.
Daisuke Naito (31-2-2, 20) Vs Daiki Kameda (10-0, 7)
In October 2007 Daisuke Naito was the WBC Flyweight champion, he had won the belt less than 3 months earlier, defeating Pongsaklek Wonjongkam in their third bout. Naito was supposed to then give Wonjongkam a rematch, which would be their fourth bout, however Kyoei had wanted to give Daiki Kameda a chance to become the youngest ever Japanese world champion.
As a result Naito's team, who had long targeted Daiki's older brother Koki Kameda, essentially paid Wonjongkam to step aside in the hope of securing a future bout with Koki Kameda, if Naito could get past Daiki.
With an agreement set the then 18 year old Kameda began promoting the bout with some rather scummy comments. He had called Naito a cockroach and generally been provocative in the media, hoping to get into Naito's head and draw more attention to the fight.
Naito was regarded as a good guy, he was well liked even if he wasn't the most charismatic or well known. He was seen as a stand up guy, a former bullying victim who, thanks to his win over Wonjongkam, had climbed the summit of the sport. The Kameda clan however were seen as natural heels, dislikable, loud, arrogant and appealed to a new generation. Whilst Naito was the old, man, the Kameda's were energetic, drawing a huge fan bases. That fan base was a mix of females, who thought the brothers were cute, fans from Kansai, who were getting behind their local star, and those who just found themselves drawn to the Kameda's and their anti-hero charm. Oh there was also plenty of people who just wanted to see the cock Kameda's being shut up and beaten.
Kameda's comments before the bout had seen interest explode in the contest and the feeling was that this was going to be something massive for Japanese boxing.
What ended up being a heavily hyped bout turned into a bit of a mismatch. From the opening round Naito was too sharp, too quick, too skilled and too good. Kameda pressed from the early stages with a tight defensive style that saw him pretty much trying to walk down Naito, but lacked the out put and energy needed to be competitive with the champion.
For the best part of 11 rounds Naito dominated the younger man. The bleach blonde Naito was trying to fight Naito, but had nothing to really challenger the more experienced and much better Naito. Even when Naito stood his ground and fought Kameda's fight he was getting the better of things. Kameda had spent more time headbutting, trying to thumb Naito, leading with the shoulder and landing low blows. Not only were the fouls from Kameda flagrant, and continous, but they were going unpunished by the referee, who gave repeated warnings but no deductions early on. There was not only fouls but taunting and typically scum like behaviour through out. He was playing the perfect heel. The man people want to see get beat...and he was getting beat.
With Naito well in the lead Kameda was showing an increasing level of frustration. This was seen notably in round 9, when he started to abuse some rough house tactics, including throwing Naito down which drew loud boos. Naito returned the foul with a cheap shot of his own later in the round, when he was deducted a point by Vic Drakulich. By this point the the crowd were rabidly against Kameda, who again bent the rules to near breaking point in round 11, with a headlock take down.
In round 12 things went from ugly and foul filled to something that didn't resemble boxing. Kameda was essentially sent out to fight Naito, taking him down, again, less than 30 seconds into the round. He was deducted a point, but that was just the start of a melt down. Moments later Kameda picked up Naito and tossed him to the canvas, and had 2 more points taken. Another tackle from Kamda followed, then a tackle from Naito before the two began to engaging in something of an MMA event on the canvas. There was some boxing in the round, but most of it was crude, street fighter stuff from Kameda.
After the 12th round there no doubting who had won. Naito had won the bout, and won the hearts of the Japanese fans. But the controversy spiralled on.
Kameda left the ring quickly after the final bell, not staying to give an interview. He didn't follow through on any promises to commit Seppuku, thankfully, but refused to not only speak to press but treat them with disdain at a post fight press conference. He stayed silent and then walked out.
Following the bout Kameda was given a lengthy suspension, his trainer and father Shiro was given a permanent ban from working the corner and older brother Koki Kameda was also reprimanded for his instructions. There was also speculation that Koki had to cancel an upcoming bout due to issues coming from this bout, though officially the reason was an opponent hadn't been decided on
In his next defense Naito faced Wonjongkam, in their fourth and final bout, and would go on to face Koki Kameda two years after this controversial, foul filled bout with his Koki's younger brother.
Koki would beat Naito, though lost the WBC title to Naito's old nemesis Wonjongkam, scrapping a chance of a rematch between Koki and Naito, which rather notably Naito's team had the contractual option for but without the WBC title there was no desire to enforce it.
Thankfully things bet Naito and the Kameda family have improved since this mess of a fight. Daiki has apologised for what he said and did, and Naito has accepted the apology and drawn a line under the matter. Now a days Naito, Daiki Kameda and Koki Kameda have retired from the ring and this dark bout in Japanese history is not something to be proud off, but is still a very important bout. It's also one of the very rare cases where a fighter was deducted 3 points in a round and not DQ'd.
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features