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.
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