The sport of boxing has a number of fighters who are simply must watch action fighters. They are part of a small number of fighters who, win or lose, you must tune in to watch. They are the sort of fighters who put the fight fans first, winning second and their own long term health comes way down their list of priorities. They are the sort of fighters promoters love, fans adore but their own teams almost certainly hate. When we get two such fighters in the ring together we know we're in for something incredibly special.
Yoshihiro Kamegai (26-3-1, 23) vs Jesus Soto Karass (28-10-3, 18)
When we talk about TV friendly fighters there are few, in recent memory, that were as TV friendly as Japan's Yoshihiro Kamegai or Mexico's Jesus Soto Karass. Neither was world class, though both did face world class opposition, neither was the most talented, hardest hitting, slippery or skilled. What both did was provide action, excitement, thrills, spills, work rate and incredible toughness. In April 2016 the two men faced off, for the first of two bouts between the two warriors, and it was one of the best bouts of the year, even it was massively lacking in terms of exposure and attention.
As an amateur Kamegai went 57-12 (31) before turning professional in 2005. Many of his early career bouts were in Japan but in the later years of his career he was becoming a regular in an American ring, thanks to his combination of low cost and highly entertaining bouts. His limitations made him a must watch fighter, and although his results in the US were mixed, going 2-3-1 on US soil heading in to this bout, he was the sort of fighter fans tuned into see. He wasn't hard to find in the ring and was always coming forward.
The 34 year old Soto Karass was, in many ways, similar to Kamegai. He was cheap for promoters, willing to engage in wars and had a reputation for providing great fights, win or lose. Like Kamegai he like to let his hands go, have a fighter and trade shots from the off. He had seen better days before this fight, having taken punishment just 2 fights earlier against Keith Thurman, but had shown he was still relevant with wins against Selcuk Aydin and Andre Berto in his previous 4 bouts.
When the bout was put together hardcore fight fans had high expectations and by the end of the opening round it was clear those expectations were going to be met as the two traded in a phone booth war. One man would take the lead, back the other up, land bombs, then have the tables turned with the other firing back. It was brilliant, breath taking, all action fun from the first round.
Not only was an exciting bout between two all action men, but better yet, it was hotly contested with nothing much separating the two fighters. Every time one fighter seemed to have some sustained success the other would fire off, coming back and take the initiative back.
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