We love going back over the fighters of yesteryear and thinking about the fights we could have seen had history a little bit differently to how it has done. We love to think about these fights and how they could have played out, when they could have taken place and who would have won. We all think of dream fights pitting fighters from different eras, but we prefer to think about ones that could have taken place, with fighters from the same, or over-lapping, eras. Today we look at another Fight we wish we had.
Pongsaklek Wonjongkam Vs Daiki Kameda
For today's fight we look at a Flyweight bout that had a few windows of opportunity, and actually could have taken place had just one result changed. In fact had one result changed, this bout would been almost certain to take place. Had Daiki Kameda beaten Daisuke Naito in October 2007 his first defense, in 2008 would almost certainly have been against Pongsaklek Wonjongkam. Instead Kameda lost to Naito and we we went on to see Wonjongkam and Naito clash for a fourth time, before Wonjongkam went on to beat Koki Kameda in 2010. But we'll come back to that a little bit later.
Sadly Kameda's loss to Naito did scupper any plans to hold this in 2008, a year that Kameda spent mostly away from the ring due to a suspension. However there is a second, very interesting window where this bout would have made a lot of sense. That's between summer 2010, after Wonjongkam beat Koki Kameda to become a 2-time WBC Flyweight champion, to March 2012, when Wonjongkam was upset by Sonny Boy Jaro. That window would have left us open for either a WBC title fight, with Wonjongkam defending the belt, or even a unification bout after Kameda won the WBA belt in late 2010, before vacating it in 2011, as he began to campaign at Super Flyweight.
It's a small window, but Summer 2010 to Spring 2011 was a great window for this bout which would have been a really interesting one. Not only a potential unification bout, but also a chance for Daiki to avenge his brother's loss to Wonjongkam, and, a chance for Daiki to become a Japanese hero, taking a victory over a man who was a thorn in the side of Japanese fighters in the past.
Pongsaklek Wonjongkam was one of the modern day Flyweight greats. The Thai great twice held the WBC Flyweight title, and essentially monopolised it from 2001, when he blew out Malcolm Tunacao inside a round, to 2012. During that 11 year span there was less than 3 years in which he didn't have the title, and for 11 months of that he had the "interim" title. During his amazing career he went 22-2-2 in world title bouts and ran up a number of very strong victories, including wins over Daisuke Naito, Luis Alberto Lazarte, Hidenobu Honda, Trash Nakanuma, Tomonobu Shimizu, Koki Kameda, Suriyan Sor Rungvisai, Takuya Kogawa and Edgar Sosa. The talented Thai could box, could punch, could fight, and is often over-looked by fans in the West who look at his weaker competition, rather looking at his competition overall.
Whilst Wonjongkam was a long term champion, a star of the division and a man who ran up 17 straight defenses, Daiki Kameda is arguably the least well regarded fighter in his family. Daiki was the middle brother of the fighting Kameda family, he was younger than the more well established Koki but older than Tomoki Kameda, who turned professional in 2008. Although Daiki is the least well remembered of the Kameda brothers he did actually try to set a Japanese record for the youngest world champion, losing to Daisuke Naito in his attempt. He was strong, aggressive, tough, and physically imposing at Flyweight. Sadly though he was quite basic, and although he was strong he lacked world class power. He was a little bit slow, a little bit clumsy, wild and open but typically he was aggressive and exciting to watch.
How would we see it playing out?
For all his flaws Kameda was a fighter. he liked to fight, and was dangerous with his hooks, that he loved to throw, especially during his time as a world level Flyweight. This could see him having moments against Wonjongkam, much in the same way that Trash Nakanuma did. One difference between Nakanuma and Kameda however was that Kameda was easier to hit, and when Wonjongkam sat on his punches he could hit.
We would expect to see Kameda trying to snuff out space and work up close, and rough up Wonjongkam. It's a tactic that would certainly see him have moments, but one that would potentially play to Wonjongkam's strengths, of foot work, accurate punchings.
Wonjongkam on the other hand would be boxing and moving. Choosing to back off when he wanted and then engaging in Kameda's fight when he wanted to. The one thing that we expect to see Kameda have issues with is Kameda's rough house tactics. Kameda's bouts often had dirty elements. There was, of course, his final round melt down against Naito, that saw him have 3 points deducted, but in other fighters his head was certainly an asset.
We would anticipate a fun fight, most Kameda fights were fun, but one where the skills, the class, the genius of Wonjongkam would prove too much. Kameda would take rounds, but it would only be 2 or 3 rounds, he would make a fight of it. But he would come up short, and, if we get the fight in the time window we're looking at, we wouldn't see Daiki avenge his brother's loss to Wonjongkam, despite a valiant effort.
Would history of been changed?
Barring a controversial decision in Kameda's favour we would anticipate a clear win for Wonjongkam. If the bout served as a unification bout then yes, we believe history could have been drastically changed by this potential contest.
If this ends up being a unification bout the WBA and WBC titles would be put together around the waist of the best fighter in the division at the time.
The WBA reign of Kameda was terrible, with Kameda defending against Takefumi Sakata and Silvio Olteanu, narrowly retaining against Olteanu before vacating. We wouldn't have been surprised to see Wonjngkam defend the unified thrones against Sakata, possibly Olteanu as well, before potentially either being stripped of the WBA or losing both. There's a chance we may have gotten Wonjongkam defending against Luis Concepcion, Hernan Marquez or Juan Carlos Reveco, which would have been amazing bouts.
Sooner or later however we would have expected the belts to find their way into their current hands. Likely with Roman Gonzalez, Juan Francisco Estrada or Kazuto Ioka all playing a part. It should be remembered that those three men all won some share of the titles and all vacated them on their pursuit of Super Flyweight glory. The titles would likely all end in the hands of one of, if not all 3, of those men.
If, some how, Kameda got the decision then we would expect the Flyweight titles to be split up very quickly, when he vacates the division, realising he had out grown it.
Sadly we don't imagine we would see Daiki's bout with Rodrigo Guerrero, if we got this bout, and that's a shame as that we an amazing bout, but we also don't think we'd have seen Daiki fight Liborio Solis, and the Kameda Vs JBC legal argument would likely have never started. We would almost certainly have seen the Kameda gym stay open and the Kameda's would likely have remained a major factor in Japanese boxing. Amazingly, given the potential financial implications of that legal case, we may end up seeing the JBC needing to go bankrupt.
It's funny to ponder just how different things could have been had we seen Wonjongkam take on Daiki Kameda.
If you follow Japanese boxing you'll know that the Kameda brothers are pretty much the Japanese equivalent of Adrien Broner. They get a huge amount of viewers but on the flipside they tend to get an awful lot of people wanting to see them lose.
Whilst Broner's issue is most outside of the ring with his general attitude and behave with the Kameda's it's more what they've done in the ring.
From Koki Kameda's first world title win, a very controversial decision over Juan Jose Landaeta back in 2006, to the latest fight involving Daiki Kameda the brothers appear to have caused controversy often without trying.
Whilst Western fans have certainly aimed their ire at Koki it's fair to suggest that Japanese fans have been turned the most on Daiki. Both, East and West have however been mostly neutral on youngest brother Tomoki with Mexican fans especially being fond of him.
It's Daiki of course that appears to have almost ripped the Japanese fans away from boxing over the past few weeks. Unfortunately I think the issue involving Daiki is more deep rooted than the recent issues that I'll get on to in a minute.
Daiki first managed to turn the fans against him in October 2007 when he fought Daisuke Naito for the WBC Flyweight title. Prior to the bout Daiki had promised to commit Seppuku, the ritual suicide of the Samurai, if he lost to Naito. This was extreme to say the least and almost certainly offended various boxing fans.
In the fight it's self Daiki turned even more fans against himself. Whilst well behind on points Daiki, on advice of Koki and their father Shiro, elbowed Naito and tried body slamming the defending champion. These violent acts saw Daiki receiving a year long ban from the ring and the fans deciding they'd already had enough of the youngster.
It's fair to say that the fans have never really forgiven Daiki for his acts against Naito. He's fought 22 times since then and in all honesty proven that he has matured, he's proven that he's got a fighters mentality and he's got a fighters toughness.
Unfortunately just as it seemed that Daiki was beginning to prove himself things took a turn for the worst. He was scheduled for an IBF-WBA Super Flyweight unification bout with Liborio Solis, despite the fact Solis missed the 115lb weight limit by quite a margin. With Solis failing the weight it was decided that Daiki would still be able to unify the belts. The original comments however were that if Daiki lost he would be stripped. Later this turned out not to be the case and as we all know Daiki, despite losing has kept the IBF title.
From a personal point of view I understand the IBF's decision. Personally I'd accept that with Solis failing to make weight Daiki's title should not have been on the line. Unfortunately though the IBF's first statement, that if Daiki lost he lost his title, has lead some to feeling like they've been lied to. Heck, they have been lied to, at least once due to the IBF's own rules.
The IBF's own rules*, following the latest amendments made in April this year states:
2. Challenger’s Failure to Make Weight
Unfortunately the man that the IBF "protected" is a fighter that fans simply don't like. The performance against Solis would have convinced some fans to have lightened their view of Daiki, he was brave and took a fair beating in the middle rounds. But with the fact he kept the title the fans felt he should have lost, they almost ignored the bravery of Daiki to show their annoyance at the political situation of the champion.
The problem here isn't just that Daiki got to keep the title despite losing but also the fact the IBF have seemingly moved the goal posts. The IBF still aren't really accepted in Japan. Had it not been for Katsunari Takayama, the IBF Minimumweight champion, it's fair to suggest not a single Japanese fan would be defending the IBF. They have only been accepted in to Japan in the past year or two and and issues like this will harm how well readily fans warm to them.
If the fans get to keep Takayama at home defending his IBF title on a regular basis there is a chance that Japanese fans may accept them. Likewise if Naoya Inoue were to beat Johnriel Casimero for the IBF Light Flyweight title, or if Ryota Murata were to defeat Felix Sturm for the IBF Middleweight title they may "forgive" the IBF for this mistake. Barring those situations though it could be a very long time before the IBF can repair their reputation in Japan.
What perhaps hasn't helped the situation is that whether Daiki kept the belt or lost it he would likely have been fighting the same man anyway. If he retained with a draw or a win he'd have been facing South African Zolani Tete, the mandatory challenger. I'd have assumed that had he lost the belt here he'd have faced Tete for the vacant title anyway, effectively leaving us in the same real position as we're in.
In regards to Daiki their is a rumour that he will be handing the IBF title back due to the huge backlash against him. Regrettably that would probably be too little too late to salvage any trust between Daiki and the fans who will likely never really forgive him. They'll also be a lot less likely to tune in and watch him in action again despite the fact he is, for now, still a world champion
The IBF rules can be found here:
This is just an opinion, maaaan! It's easy to share our opinions, and that's what you'll find here, some random opinion pieces