Last we looked at a very controversial bout featuring Koki Kameda, what few realise is that that wasn't actually the only time Koki himself was in a bout that saw the scorecards and judging being questioned. Whilst the win over Juan Jose Landaeta was a massive controversy, that saw an loud outcry from the Japanese fans, the media and former fighters he had several other questionable decisions go his way as well. Today we look at one of the most overlooked of his controversial wins, and one that did see a number of Japanese fans question the outcome.
Koki Kameda (27-1, 17) vs Nouldy Manakane (24-10-1, 15)
Years after winning the WBA Light Flyweight title in controversial fashion, in the aforementioned bout with Landaeta, Koki Kameda moved up through the weight. He took the WBC Flyweight title, with arguably his career best win against Daisuke Naito, and later moved up and claimed the WBA "regular" Bantamweight title. His reign there was truly unspectacular, full of under whelming performances and narrow wins. One of those, his 4th defense, saw him taking on Noldi Manakane from Indonesia.
With 35 bouts to his name Manakane was known regionally as a decent regional fighter but nothing particularly great. He had rebuilt well following a 1-4 start to his professional career and won the PABA, but wasn't really seen as being a world class fighter. If anything he was ranked more because of the PABA title than any specific win he'd score. His competition had been frightfully poor, inexperienced and limited and whilst we accept not all Indonesian and Thai's have complete records none of them seemed like the sort of preparation opponents needed for someone to move into world title level.
Despite the poor competition of Manakane, and his record, he was selected to be Kameda's challenger for an April 2012 bout. On paper a mismatch, even with Kameda looking a rather poor fighter at Bantamweight. He was given the green light by TBS, the television company behind Kameda, and the fight was on. The expectation was that Kameda would finally look good as a Bantamweight. Those expectations were very much wrong.
The opening round saw little in the way of action. Both men were patient, almost to a fault, there was little more than jabs from either man, in what made for a remarkably dull first round, with the main highlight being a looping right hand from Manakane almost 2 minutes into the round. Following that shot Kameda seemed to become even more negative. Whilst it could be put down to the typical "feeling out round" it was still dreary for a bout assumed to be a massive mismatch.
The pace began to pick up in round 2, but for the most part it was Manakane bringing the pressure, coming forward and throwing. To his credit the better work was from Kameda, it was clear Kameda was the more skilled boxer, the smarter man in the ring, and the one with that extra class. That however didn't make up for his laziness, and the short bursts of aggression from Manakane were certainly eye catching, if somewhat ineffective.
Round by round Manakane's confidence grew and he began to make a fight of things. He realised Kameda didn't have the power to hurt him and seemed happy to take extra risks, pushing the aggression more, and out landing Kameda in the exchanges. The fans who had expected the blow out win for Kameda were instead seeing the local man moving away and fighting like a man in sparring partner mode. This was obviously notable in some of the middle rounds, with round 5 being a very clear example of Kameda not being at the races.
Even when Kameda stood his ground and looked to fight with an increased output he didn't shine or show much consistency. He could only put his foot on the gas for bursts, something he did well in round 6 before going back off the boil soon afterwards.
That's not to say that Kameda looked bad when the tempo dropped. He still looked like a real talent, he showed some really nice touches, both defensively and offensively, but their wasn't much of them. For example landed a cracking left hand in round 11 and he had a fantastic round 12. Sadly though he made things hard for himself than they needed to be, he fought like a man scared of someone who was, essentially, a regional journeyman and struggled to get the juices going.
After the final bell Manakane celebrated. He like though that despite losing the final round he had built up a decent lead. That however didn't show on the official scorecards with scores of 117-110, 118-110 and 115-113. Scores that simply didn't make sense. The scores were met by mostly mild applause with a spattering of boos.
After the bout various international news sources reported that "Kameda dominated throughout the 12-round bout at Yokohama Arena in his fourth defence of the title he won in December 2010", but that was simply not true. Those in Japan felt the bout was close, some putting it down as a bit of a robbery in favour of Kameda, who had been getting a lucky run with the judges at this point in time. Plenty felt Kameda had deserved the win, though many felt it was by a point or two and that the scorecards were terrible, to say the least.
There was a rumour in some Japanese circles that the bout had been deleted from the internet at the time to stop people watching it and complaining about match fixing, genuinely that's an explanation we found on one Japanese site,
There is, of course, an argument of quality against quantity and the better shots did, for the most part, come from Kameda. There is no argument there. Some of the punches he landed were genuinely fantastic. The issue is that there wasn't enough of them. They were few and far between, and he was out worked by so much in some rounds that his quality shot or two was easy to forget. Round after round Kameda looked happy to try and old man the old man he was facing and it meant what was supposed to be a mismatch turned into a real struggle. The wrong tactics were applied round after round from Kameda, who looked incredibly lazy through out. The finish was good from Kameda, but it was impossible to give him a 117-110 or 118-110 card from the action in the ring. Those wide cards made it seem like Manakane, a very limited fighter, was being stitched up.
Interestingly Manakane has since fought in a number of Japanese bouts. In 2012 he lost to Eita Kikuchi and a debuting Kenji Kubo, was stopped in 2013 by Koki's younger brother Daiki Kameda, and lost to Juki Tatsuyoshi and Ryo Suwa in 2018. In none of those returns to the country did he look the same as he did here. As for Kameda he managed 4 more defenses, but 3 of those were hotly contested split decisions and he eventually gave up the title rather than face Anselmo Moreno. He dropped down to Super Flyweight and then lost to Kohei Kono in what was his final professional bout.
Despite the controversies Kameda has remained a notable figure in Japanese sports culture. He had a special event on an online streaming service, where he fought 5 people in the same event, and also fought Pongsaklek Wonjongkam in an exhibition style bout. He has however left the ring with many criticising his career, his opponents and bouts like this.
Whilst we don't see this as a robbery our selves, we do see the scorecards being rather awful. Interestingly Michael Lee, who had the bout 118-110, ended up doing Kameda's next two bouts, favouring him in both which ended in split decision wins for him. As for Ferlin Marsh, who put in the 117-110, he never got a call back to do a Kameda fight, but does appear to have been very consistent since his score here.
We've looked at some controversial bouts from Thailand in recent weeks, but this week we look over to Japan for a bout that was massively controversial, and we again feature the Kameda brothers. And not for the final time. This bout was actually the first world title fight to feature one of the Kameda brothers and although less well known in the west than Daki Kameda's bout to Daisuke Naito was similarly controversial in Japan.
Koki Kameda (11-0, 10) Vs Juan Jose Landaeta (23-3-1, 18) I
In 2006 Roberto Vasquez vacated the WBA Light Flyweight title to begin campaigning at Flyweight. This left the title vacant with 19 year old Koki Kameda facing off with Juan Jose Landaeta for belt.
Despite having been a professional for less than 3 years Kameda was already seen as a big name in Japanese boxing. He was a charismatic, cocky and arrogant figure who appealed to the youth, wanting someone with attitude to rise to the top, whilst the older skool fans disliked him and regularly felt that he was picking and choosing an easy route to the top. In his first 11 bouts he had only faced one notable name, and that was the shot to pieces Saman Sorjaturong, who had won just 1 of his last 5 bouts. With TBS backing him hard it was clear Kameda was being sent to the stars, but would obviously have a lot of extra attention on him as he went into his first world title bout.
Landaeta on the other hand was a tough Venezuelan with solid pop in his shots. Up to this point he had mostly fought at Minimumweight, and had held the WBA "interim" Minimumweight title. Despite being a solid fighter he had failed to win outside of Latin America, with a draw in 2004 against Chana Porpaoin and a loss, later than same year, to Yutaka Niida. Although he was very competitive with Niida he had followed that up with 4 relatively disappointing bouts against mostly limited opponents.
It was expected that the youth, size, power and speed of Kameda would be too much for the more experienced Landaeta.
Early on the bout was hotly contested with Kameda showing he was better than some may have expected, given his competition, and Landaeta showing he wasn't there to just make up the numbers. The first round was genuinely fought at a very solid and entertaining tempo as both men looked to get their nose in front. That was until very late in the round when Landaeta put down Kameda in the dying seconds of the round. The Japanese youngster got to his feet, and the bell rang before Landaeta could jump on him, but it was a clear 10-8 round to Landaeta.
Kameda fought back well in round 2, but it was another close round, and not one where he could make a definitive case for deserving the round.
The other early rounds were legitimately entertaining giving us a brilliant back and forth. Some how one judge managed to pretty much give Kameda a clean sweep from round 2 to round 6, though that seemed very generous given that Landaeta was giving just as much as he was taking. The biggest question mark for that judge was round 4, which seemed like a pretty clear round for the visitor, and was scored to Landaeta by both of the other judges.
Prior to the bout Kameda had never been beyond had only been beyond 8 rounds once, an early career win against a tough but limited Thai. His lack of experience in the later stages showed, with Landaeta relying on his experience with the middle and later rounds round to out box a tiring, but gutsy, Kameda. Rounds 11 and 12 saw Kameda in all sorts of trouble, as Landaeta looked to take the result out of the judges hands. To his credit Kameda survived some hell in the final round, showing his toughness and bravery along the way.
After 12 rounds the scorecards came in with scores of 115-113, and 114-113 for Kameda and 112-115 for Landaeta, giving Kameda a very dubious, and much criticised split decision victory.
The out rage from those in Japan was almost instant, and not helped by pre-fight comments from Kameda. Prior to the bout Kameda had said he had wanted to give the belt to his father and coach, Shiro. This had lead the WBA to prepare a special belt for Shiro that they gave him after the bout. Given the controversial nature of the bout, and the pre-made belt it lead to calls of match fixing and rigged scorecards in Japan.
The decision saw fans in Japan incredibly angry about the result. Despite the fact their man had won. They wrote to the Venezuelan embassy to apologise to Landaeta, they complained to the Japan Boxing Commission and to TBS, who aired the bout. The fans also spewed their anger so much that the promoter of the event had to close their message board.
As well as the pressure and anger from the fans was also anger from the media, who suggested that the judge who gave Kameda round 12 was clearly wrong, and had been scored that way to try and get Kameda the win. Regarding that judge, had he scored the round the opposite way, as the other two judges did, his card would have been level at 114-114.
Their was also some backlash from fighters, both former and active, about the decision. Whilst most praised Kameda's performance, especially given the big step up in class and his age, many also spoke out about the decision with one going as far as to say "Japanese boxing died" with the result. Others however seemed to suggest they could see the result.
Due to the controversy the WBA left Landaeta as the #1 contender and ordered a rematch. That bout was originally pencilled in for fall 2006 but had to be pushed back when Kameda was injured in training. Eventually the bout took place in December 2006 with Kameda easily winning the rematch employing very different tactics to take the win, and try to put the controversy behind him.
Sadly the controversy and anger overshadowed what was genuinely a really good fight. A legitimately good fight. It was no fight of the year contender, but was an exciting, 12 round war, with Kameda showing real heart, drama, competitive action through out. It was a coming of age bout for Kameda, who proved he belonged at this level, but was so overshadowed by the judging and fall out that few remembered what a great fight they'd seen.
Another month and another chance to see some adverts featuring fighters from Asia. This time we include a sportswear advert, two game adverts, a commercial for a TV service and a vehicle.
Yup we're all over the place this month!
Ryota Murata - Under Armour
Starting with the bright lights of Las Vegas we see Ryota Murata wearing some Under Armour clothing, sparring and seeming very happy at the clothing. The advert was given the name "I just want to be strong Ryota Murata" but in reality the commercial doesn't really seem to sell the product. Sure the brand and it's logo is flashed a lot on the screen but unless you're a Japanese speaker our feeling is the concept of this advert falls somewhat short.
Guts Ishimatsu - Drift Spirits
This one is a very short one, at just 15 seconds, but is one that just makes us wonder what was going through everyone's mind when they came up with the idea. The commercial has former Lightweight champion Guts Ishimatsu dressed like a thumb with a steering wheel. And the thumb looks a little bit like a different body part. The advert is for a phone video game called Drift Spirits, and the games looks alright here, but it's Guts that steals the show in bizarre advert.
Yoko Gusiken - NTT
Whilst seeing Guts Ishimatsu as a thumb is entertaining, and easily the most interesting of the adverts here, we have to give Yoko Gushiken credit for all the work he's done in promoting things as well. Here he's advertising a TV service in Japan along with a Feisty young lady throwing combinations on the mitts with him. The CS and BS you see mentioned in the advert are the two satellite systems in Japan, with NTT offering both. Interestingly the eagle eared among you will maybe even recognise the music used here , it's "Conquistador" by Maynard Ferguson, the same track that Gushiken used for his ring walk music.
Koki Kameda - Pigg Fishing
If you thought Guts Ishimatsu being in a commercial for a video game was odd, here's one with Koki Kameda advertising some other game. This advert just looks terrible and poor Kameda seemed confused through out. Really not sure what's going on here, but the game looks absolutely terrible and Kameda's acting doesn't look much better than the game. Absolute no idea how to play the game, but it looks like a really poor social sim type thing with some fishing in it.
Tae Shik Kim - Saehan Motor Elf
Another short one to finish off as we look at a 1979 advert featuring former WBA Flyweight world champion Tae Shik Kim advertising a Saehn Motor Elf. Yeah the product sounds a bit naff in terms of it's name and the advert is old, and in black and white, but we can't help but love the music in use here and just and just how old this really is! It's over 40 years old...and it looks it!
Today we want to take a look at something different to usual. There is, after all, a real lack of actual fights taking place right now and whilst we are chomping at the bit to talk about in ring action there's not a lot of it to talk about. There doesn't appear to be much being announced either and we're sort of sat an impasse until the year kicks off properly.
With that in mind we've decided to look at some out of the ring work some fighters have done in recent years, and look at how some fighters have kept themselves in the minds of fans between fights. Here we look at 5 commercials featuring fighters from Asia. Whilst some of these are for relatively obscure local companies others are for international giants.
Tomomi Takano - Kitchen Punch
Japanese fighter Tomomi Takano is one of the most marketable looking fighters in the history of the sport. Incredibly easy on the eye, with looks that will instantly get peoples attention. She has been in a host of commercials over the years but the one that intrigued us the most was this one for "Kitchen Punch", which...certainly could raise questions in the political correct West about the "women in the kitchen" stereotype. Still it's an amusing advert, features a woman who should have been in far more adverts, and the item they are selling has punch in it's name. Clever from those involved!
Rex Tso - Nike
This 2017 Nike advert features a man who was, at one point, the face of Hong Kong sport. Rex Tso was involved in a lot of adverts, he seemed to be linked to almost every major Hong Kong company from Hauwei to HongKongBroadbandNetwork and even the Hong Kong International airport. Here though we see him being featured in a 2017 advert for Nike.
One odd thing about Tso's adverts is there was quite a few where he knocked down as a boxer, perhaps not helping the star of your advert look good here folks!
Nonito Donaire - McDonald's
One fighter who has always been willing to poke fun at himself has been Nonito Donaire, and he has been in a number of adverts for various products over the years. Here we share an old advert of a much younger looking Donaire helping promote McDonalds in the Philippines...maybe this is how he made the move Featherweight!
Koki Kameda - Snickers
We've all seen some form of the "You're not you when you're hungry" adverts that have done a world of good for Snicker's. What you may not have known is they did something similar in Japan. One of the Japanese adverts featured a Karaoke setting and Koki Kameda. This is one where you don't need to know the language to know exactly what the commercial is doing.
Daisuke Naito - Haseko Corporation
It only makes sense to from a commercial with Koki Kameda that makes complete and utter sense to everyone to a Daisuke Naito advert that has us scratching our heads at what is going on. This commercial features a smiling singing Naito, along with a lot of other people, in an advert that has us wondering whether this was actually a success or not
When we talk about the most notable Japanese boxing families it's impossible to not have the Kameda family in the top handful. The family hasn't always been the most well liked or the most welcome family in boxing, but it has been incredibly successful, with a trio of brothers picking up world titles. Of the three the most successful was Koki Kameda (33-2, 18), who the oldest brother and one of the most divisive figures in Japanese boxing.
Whilst we won't really go into what made the Kameda family son controversial we do have to admit that the role they played in boxing in the 00's and 10's was huge. They had transcended the sport, set up their own gym and even had a food item carry their name.
As an honourable mention for the Asian Fighter of the Decade it's almost impossible not to talk about Koki Kameda and what he achieved in from 2010 to 2015, and then a little bit after what he did following his retirement. During the time window he fought 13 times, competed in 11 "world title" bouts, and went 11-2 (4).
On paper Kameda had a great decade, but looking under the hood it was more of a good few years, rather than a great one.
The decade began with the then 23 year old Kameda losing the WBC and Linear Flyweight title to Thai great Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, just weeks into the decade. The bout was Kameda's first defense and he was out pointed by the ageing Kameda, in what began a late but notable second world title run for Wonjongkam.
Rather than trying to reclaim the Flyweight crown from Wonjongkam, Kameda moved up and won the secondary version of the WBA Bantamweight title, with a win over the 31 year old Alexander Munoz. At the time that was regarded as a good win against a former 2-time Super Flyweight champion, though Munoz would go 5-6 after this bout and, fingers crossed, will be retiring shortly.
Sadly Kameda's reign, which included 8 defenses of the WBA "regular" Bantamweight title, was less than spectacular. The main standout win was a 2012 Split decision over Hugo Ruiz and that was supported by wins against the likes of Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym, also split decision, and Jung Oh Son, also a split decision. When he had the chance to get a defining win at the division, after being ordered to face Anselmo Moreno, he actually vacated, costing him a big chance at climb up this list considerably.
Instead of facing Moreno Kameda would move down in weight, facing Kohei Kono in 2015 for the WBA Super Flyweight title. The bout would be the first ever all Japanese world title bout on US soil and would see Kameda suffer his second loss of the decade, before retiring.
Since retirement Kameda has remained involved in the sport, taking part on some online specials for Abema, including one against Tenshin Nasukawa and an exhibition with Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, and has gone on to be a trainer and a promoter.
Today we celebrate a new period in Japanese history, the Reiwa period. This ends the Heisei era, which began back in January 8th 1989, and although the change is not likely to be noticed in the west it is a major event in Japan.
We thought, with the end of the era, it was worth looking at the 10 most influential fighters of the Heisei era.
Just a caveat, before we begin, by influential we're not looking at the fighters who were the most successful during the era, but those who had a long last effect on the sport, specifically in Japan. Those who forced changes, influenced fighters or inspired fighters who followed them. To be considered they had to have fought between January 8th 1989 and April 30th 2019.
10-Takashi Uchiyama (24-2-1, 20) - The Watanabe Wonder
Several fighters on this list have gotten here due to their influence with fighters who have followed in their footsteps, or fighters who have turned their hand to promoting. Takashi Uchiyama on the other hand helped put the gym he was fighting for on the map. The Watanabe Gym had been opened for a few years but didn't really have a star to focus on, they lacked a fighter who could help attract top prospects and a man who carry the gym. In Uchiyama they had that star. Uchiyama's long reign as the WBA Super Featherweight champion, from 2010 to 2016, made his one of the major faces of Japanese boxing and he would inspire the Watanabe Gym, which is now regarded as one of the best in Japan. His effect on the Watanabe gym today has lead to fighters like Hiroto Kyoguchi and Ryoichi Taguchi becoming major forces. He's now running a gym of his own, and it's clear that Uchiyama's influence is going to continue well into the future.
9-Katsuya Onizuka (24-1, 17) - Superstar Spanky K
Popular fighters are influential due to their ability to draw a crown, get people talking and get eye balls on the sport. That was certainly the case with Katsuya Onizuka, who's popularity was huge in the 1990's. He turned professional in 1988 and would fight through to 1994, running up 5 defenses of the WBA Super Flyweight title, and even having a video game released with his likeness in Japan. Onizuka was certainly controversial, with numerous suspect wins, but his popularity kept people interested and kept watching. Following his retirement he would train fighters in Fukuoka, work for TBS in a commentary position and continue to have a pretty notable impact in the sport, much more so than fans in the West would realise.
8-Kazuto Ioka (23-2, 13) - Bar setting prodigy
The Osakan boxing scene is the second biggest in Japan, behind that in Tokyo, and for the better part of a decade the face of Osakan boxing was Kazuto Ioka. He drew huge TV rating, he was crowned as super prospect from his debut and he would, famously, win the WBC Minimumweight title in just his 7th bout. His career has been remarkable, winning world titles in 3 divisions, and chasing a 4th divisional world title. He's notable won an all-Japanese unification bout, a real rarity, challenged for a 4th divisional world title and set the mark for fewest fights to a world title, a mark that has since been beaten by Naoya Inoue and Kosei Tanaka. Ioka put a marker down for the newest wave of Japanese fighters, and really helped kick start the era of the Japanese super prospect.
7-Hozumi Hasegawa (36-5, 16) - Hyogo Hero
We're going to mention a man who inspired a generation of fighters a little bit further down this list, but Hozumi Hasegawa also fills that role excellently. In fact Hasegawa ois the man many current fighters cite as an inspiration, especially those in the Hyogo region. He was, for a long time, the one fighter from Hyogo who kept the region on the map, he was "The Ace" of Japan for years, a multi-time JBC MVP, a 3 weight world champion, a sensational fighter in the ring and someone who's appeal did actually cross over from Japan to the West. Hasegawa began his career in 1999 and despite some early defeats he would go on to win world titles at Bantamweight, Featherweight and Super Bantamweight, he was a TV star in the ring, with a great style to watch and with a list of notable names on his record. He wasn't the megastar that some had anticipated, but he was a big name, and the face of Japanese boxing during a little bit of a transition period in the 00's
6-Sugar Miyuki (11-1, 4) - Female punching pioneer
Women's boxing today is thriving in Japan, and Kasumi Saeki recently showed how good the top youngsters are. We've recent world champions like Naoko Fujioka, Ayaka Miyao, Etsuko Tada and Shindo Go all make their mark but the real OG is Sugar Miyoshi. A fighter you won't easily find on boxrec, where she's listed under her birth name of Nojima Miyuki and has an offiial record of 1-1. Miyuki was oriinally a Shoot Boxing fighter, a style more similar to kick boxing than regular boxing, but would turn to boxing in 1995, years before the JBC would recognise female boxing. In 1997 she would go on to win the IWBF Minimumweight title, becoming Japan's first female world champion. Her work in boxing saw him raise the profile of the sport in the country, fighting exhibitions and working as a trainer. She would clearly kick start the female boxing movement in Japan, long before any of the others, and was a key factor in careers for the likes of Miki Kikukawa and Yumi Takano. She pre-dates the like of Feujin Raika by years and also played a role in showing that fighters could convert from one of Japan's other combat sports leagues. Although Miyuki is only "officially" listed at 1-1 we know that's wrong, due to footage of her and reliable sources, we her impact it still being felt, directly and indirectly to this very day!
5-Naoya Inoue (17-0, 15) - International man of focus
It's hard to really figure out where Naoya Inoue sits in this list. He hasn't inspired a generation of fighters, he hasn't forced rules to change, he hasn't set up a gym, or played a part in the running of the sport. However what he has done, internationally, has drawn eyes to Japanese boxing, he has managed to capture an international audience like no other Japanese fighter, getting American and European fans talking, and featuring as a cover star for magazines that often put Japanese boxing down their list of priorities. He has, arguably, become the first Japanese fighter, in a long time, to become a global star. His real influence is likely to be more notable in the Reiwa era, but it's impossible to state how much he has done since his debut in 2012. He, more than any other fighter, has made Japanese boxing global and we expect that will be something felt for a very, very long time.
4-Hiroki Ioka (33-8-1, 17) - First generation Ioka!
Today Kazuto Ioka is one of the biggest names in Japanese boxing. His unclue, Hiroki Ioka, is however a man who deserves on any list of influential fighters. The talented former 2-weight world champion saw his career begin before the Heisei era but his influence grew through out the era. He won his first world title in 1987, 3 months before the Heisei era began, but would make his first defense just weeks after the new emperor took the throne. He went 22-8-1 (11) during the Heisei era, defending the WBC Minimumweight title and winning the WBA Light Flyweight title. He would also chase a third divisional world title, coming up short at both Flyweight and Super Flyweight. After retiring in 1998 he would turn his hand to promoting, inspire his nephew to fight and guide numerous careers, as well as working as part of the West Japan Boxing Association. His influence may often be over-looked but he has been incredibly influential and will continue to be so in the Kansai region.
3-Katsunari Takayama (31-9-0-1, 12) - Rule changing road warrior
It's hard to ignore just how influential Katsunari Takayama was to Japanese boxing during his 40 fight career. The Minimumweight warrior was a trend setter who pushed his dreams and forced the JBC, and the JABF, to change how they did things. His pursuit of the IBF and WBO world titles eventually helped their legitimacy in Japan, and played a part in getting the JBC to recognise both the titles. He also brought real attention to the Minumumweight division, in part thanks to his incredible fight with Francisco Rodriguez Jr. He also, very notable, pushed the JABF into allowing former professional fighters to return to the amateur ranks. Whilst Takayama will never go down as one of the all time greats, it's impossible to ignore the effect that his career had on Japanese boxing.
2-Hideyuki Ohashi (19-5, 12) - The Phoenix
In the west Hideyuki Ohashi is relatively unknown, though plays a massive role in Japanese boxing, and has done for over 30 years. At the start of the Heisei era Ohashi was 9-3 (5) though went 10-2 (7) during the rule of Emperor Akihito, becoming a 2-time Minimumweight world champion during that 12 bout run. What he's he's done since hanging up the gloves in 1993 has been amazing, and he has not only played a role in the governing of Japanese boxing, due to roles with the JBC and JPBA, but also ran the Ohashi Gym. That gym has given us the likes of Katsushige Kawashima, Akira Yaegashi and Naoya Inoue. The "Ohashi Gym" is one of the most significant in Japan right now and looks to go from strength to strength.
Koki Kameda - Insanely popular, controversial, and a real star. His effect as a fighter was divisive but few can argue that he's not, even in retirement, a major draw.
Kiyoshi Hatanaka - A massive figure in boxing in Chubu, formerly a fighter and now the region's leading promoter with the likes of Kosei Tanaka and Kento Hatanaka making their name under him
Akinobu Hiranaka - Huge punching fighter who's work in Okyama as a promoter has started to build a notable, and exciting, local scene
Toshiaki Nishioka - Japan's fighters have tended to stay at home, fighting in the confines of of Japan. Nishioka would be one of the few fighters to go out of Japan for fighters on a semi-regular basis. He would fight in the US, Mexico and France during his career and prove that Japanese fighters could win away from home.
Yoshihiro Kamegai - Who spoke about Naoya Inoue dragging eyes to the Japanese scene. The same can also be said of Yoshihiro Kamegai, who actually became a bigger name in the west than in Japan, thanks to his fun to watch brawls. We wouldn't suggest many fighters follow his style, but his mind set of making it big in the US has helped lead the way for others.
Ryota Murata - It's unclear how much influence Murata has, or hasn't had. His TV figures are huge, his popularity, even now, is massive, but the real influence is the intangible, and that's the amateur success. We've yet to see Japanese amateurs really flourish on the international stage since Murata's 2012 Olympic gold medal, but it's expected that the 2020 Olympics will be a very successful one for Japan. It's assumed that Murata's amateur triumph may potentially have a similar effect to Amir Khan, who won an Olympic medal in 2004 and saw the UK team have a massive games in 2012.
1-Joichiro Tatsuyoshi (20-7-1, 14) - A generational influence
Few fighters can match the influence that Joichiro Tatsuyoshi had to the current Japanese scene. "Joe" made his debut 8 months after the start of the Heisei era and fought through to 2009, albeit with some breaks in there. During his career he would be a 2-time WBC Bantamweight champion, and whilst he was fast tracked to a title his influence was less due to his title reigns and more his style, his personality and his charisma. His effect on Japanese boxing was inspiring a generation of fighters, helping to kick start the current era of Japanese boxing. Even now he is still insanely popular, and when he appears at ring, as a member of the crowd, the cameras regularly zoom in on him. Enigmatic, exciting and incredibly charismatic the Osakan is still a star, though had had to pay for his boxing with various issues now effecting him.
With all the “world” titles out there it's hard to believe that we've only ever had two Japanese fighters who have been 3-weight world champions. The first of those was the controversial Koki Kameda (33-1, 18) whilst the second was Kazuto Ioka (17-1, 10), who achieved the feat earlier this week.
Whilst the recognition of being “3 weight world champions” is something they share, it's certainly not the only thing they have in common. Both have been backed by Japanese TV giant TBS, both made their names at a very young age, both were born in Osaka and both have been fast tracked to the top, winning their first titles very quickly.
Here we'll be taking a look at how the two men match up in their achievements so far, and what the future is likely to deliver for both men.
Kameda, born in 1986, began his career in 2003 as a promising and exciting young fighter. In less than 3 years Kameda claim his first world title, the previously vacant WBA Light Flyweight title, as he narrowly out pointed Juan Jose Landaeta in a controversial split decision. That was Kameda's 12th professional bout and whilst the win was highly controversial he did set the record straight with a clearer win in a rematch just 4 months later. Sadly however that was Kameda's only defense at the weight.
Ioka, born in 1989, made his debut soon after turning 20 and began his career at Light Flyweight. Like Kameda however he dropped down a weight for his first world title bout which came less than 2 years after his debut. Unlike Kameda there was no doubting Ioka's first title win as he stopped long reigning champion Oleydong Sithsamerchai in the 5th round of their bout to claim the WBC Minimumweight title. That was just Ioka's 7th professional bout and saw him setting a then Japanese record, which has since been broken by Naoya Inoue and looks likely to be beaten again in May by Kosei Tanaka.
Whilst Kameda vacated his title and moved up after just one defense Ioka decided he'd hang around a bit and recorded a trio of title defenses. The most notable of those saw him unifying the WBC and WBA titles with a razor thin win over fellow Japanese fighter Akira Yaegashi. The win over Yaegashi really was a fight that saw Ioka mounting a claim to being the #1 in the division but he did move up immediately afterwards.
Kameda's second title reign began in 2009 when he claimed the WBC and Linear Flyweight title with an excellent win over Daisuke Naito. The bout was filled with lot bad feeling between the two men due issues between Naito and the Kameda family following Naito's bout with Koki's younger brother Daiki and that bad feeling helped draw massive interest in the bout. Sadly however it wasn't the most exciting of bouts with Kameda being too good and too quick for the then 35 year old Naito, who would only fight once more before retiring. This really was Kameda's stand out win, and came in fight #22, sadly however it quickly followed by his first loss as Pongsaklek Wonjongkam out pointed him in what Kameda's first defense of the title.
In total Kameda's first two reigns consisted of just a single successful defense. A disappointing return but one that had seen him mix with good company and hold a linear title.
Ioka's second reign began at the end of 2012 when he claimed the previously vacant WBA Light Flyweight title, the same title that Kameda had held in 2006, with a 6th round TKO against Jose Alfredo Rodriguez. As the champion here Ioka defended the belt with defenses against Thai veterans Waisanu Kokietgym and Kwanthai Sithmorseng as well the previously unbeaten Felix Alvarado.
Whilst his was frustrating, despite the excellent win over Alvarado, it's fair to say that Ioka's reign here was of a “secondary” title. The real WBA champion was super champion Roman Gonzalez and although talks of the two fighting did exist the bout never came off with Ioka's team taking the blame. Interestingly however Gonzalez never defended his title whilst Ioka held the “regular” title and instead the Nicaraguan great flirted with the Flyweight division that he later moved to.
Kameda's third reign was at Bantamweight and began less than 9 months after his loss to Wonjongkam. It saw Kameda skipping the Super Flyweight division and going straight to Bantamweight where he claimed the previously vacant WBA title with a decision win over former Super Flyweight champion Alexander Munoz. Kameda's reign here lasted significantly longer than either of his previous two and saw him making 8 defenses. The reign began in Kameda's 25th bout making him one of the quickest fighters to become a 3-weight world champion, doing it in 2 less fights than American Adrien Broner and 9 less fights than Flord Mayweather Jr.
On paper Kameda's reign sounds great however there was a lot to dislike about it. Several defenses were close with split decisions over Hugo Ruiz, Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym and the unheralded Jung Oh Son, there was also less than inspiring defenses, not only against Son but also Nouldy Manakane, Mario Macias and John Mark Apolinario. Not only were the defenses generally lacking but this was secondary title, with Anselmo Moreno holding the “Super title”. Sadly Kameda vacated the title soon before he was supposed to go to purse bids with Moreno and instead said he was dropping to Super Flyweight.
For Ioka his third has just begun and it started when he won the WBA Flyweight title with a close and very competitive win over Juan Carlos Reveco. The win came in Ioka's 18th professional bout, making him the quickest fighter in history to become a 3-weight world champion. This was however his shot at a Flyweight title after having previously come up short against Amnat Ruenroeng in an IBF title fight.
This is a secondary title, with Juan Francisco Estrada holding the “super” title but it's still a notable win over a very good title holder and a win that puts him in the mix for really big fights down the line.
The future for both men looks to be really interesting.
For Kameda the next step is clear. He'll be fighting against Kohei Kono in a battle for the WBA Super Flyweight title at some point in the next few months. That will give give Kameda a chance to become the first 4 weight world champion from Japan. Not only is the future bright for his legacy but also financially following a link up with powerful American promoter Al Haymon.
Sadly for Kameda he is now an “out cast” from the Japanese boxing scene and is, along with his brothers, banned from fighting at home and even if he wins the WBA Super Flyweight title he'll be seen as a “lesser” champion, well behind WBO champion Naoya Inoue.
As for Ioka the future is less clear though arguably more exciting. He is still TBS's boxing poster child, he has the money behind him to bring top opponents to Japan though where he goes next could well be very interesting. There is a possibility of a rematch with Reveco, Ruenroeng or Alvarado there is also possible show downs with Juan Francisco Estrada, Roman Gonzalez or defenses against people like Brian Viloria, Koki Eto, Giovani Segura and Suguru Muranaka.
Ioka may only have a “secondary” title but given the division he is in there is so much to be excited about and so many brilliant match ups for him there the future looks wonderfully exciting. Sadly however we really can't see him moving to Super Flyweight any time soon so a potential super fighter with Inoue is highly unlikely, so to is a fight with Kameda or Kono. Given his age we'll never say never, but becoming a 4 weight world champion doesn't likely for Ioka.
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