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.
This past Saturday we saw the really surprising news break of a rematch between Koki Kameda (33-2, 18) and Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (90-5-2, 47), with the bout scheduled to take place on May 5th. The fight seemed to be very much out of left field, despite Kameda talking about a ring return since the very start of this year, in what was said to be planned as a one off for the former 3-weight world champion.
Over the last 24 hours however things have been revealed in regards to both fighters, explaining that both have a motivation to take this fight, and that's the need for money.
For those unaware these two men fought back in March 2010, with Wonjongkam travelling to Japan and dethroning Kameda of the WBC Flyweight title, reclaiming a title that the Thai had held from 2001 to 2007. The Thai icon would hold the title, in his second reign, from the win over Kameda to 2012, when he was upset by Sonny Boy Jaro. He would goon to fight 8 times after that, going 7-1 (4) with a loss to Rey Megrino the only black mark on his record.
When he retired in 2013 Wonjongkam had fought 97 times in career that had began in 1994, at the age of 17. He had gone 22-2-2 (8) in world title fights and had scored notable wins against Malcolm Tunacao, Luis Alberto Lazarte, Daisuke Naito (twice), Gilberto Keb Baas, Tomonobu Shimizu, Julio Cesar Miranda, Koki Kameda, Suriyan Sor Rungvisai and Edgar Sosa.
Sadly reports in the Thai press suggest that Pongsaklek was having money problems as far back as 2013, with women and gambling. That lead some fans to give the former fighter some sympathy, but other in Thailand had little to give, stating his lack of discipline and blaming him for not investing wisely.
Kameda's last fight came in 2015, against Kohei Kono in the USA, and despite losing that 3 weight former world champion didn't look like a man who was shot. Instead he was just up against a stylistic nightmare in Kono, who was too busy, too tough and too strong for the more naturally gifted Kameda..
Given the financial issues both men have found themselves in it could be that this supposed one off bout, will not be a one off for either men. We have seen fighters return to the ring in later life in Thailand, with a recent Muay Thai bout between 45 year old Samson Dutch Boy Gym and 48 year old Veeraphol Sahaprom, and seeing Pongsaklek return again wouldn't be a surprise. For Kameda, who is 31, this bout may well kick start a fully fledged comeback going forward, if he financially needs to. He's a trainer himself at Kyoei but will be well aware that having one last run as an active fighter will be better financially than just training the likes of his brother Tomoki Kameda.
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