We kick off a new year with this series and focus on a controversial Japanese fighter in the form of Koki Kameda (33-2, 18), a man who truly split Japanese fans. He had his lovers, he had his haters, and he had little between. Although a controversial figure he gave Japanese boxing a real boost and helped TBS to some of their best ratings of the 21st century. He also managed to win world titles in 3 weight classes, albeit with some WBA madness in the Bantamweight division and scored numerous notable wins.
Whilst never the out and out best in any weight class Kameda was a key figure from Light Flyweight to Bantamweight. He was a fighter who drew massive TV audience, and the desire some fans had to see him beat helped make him a big star, as did his general attitude, his arrogance and his loud mouth. He was the man Osakan fans needed after Joichiro Tatsuyoshi's career at the top came to an end, and he was one of the men at the forefront of Japanese boxing in the 00's.
Like him or hate him, Koki Kameda was a major figure in lower weight boxing, a force in Asian boxing and a massive player in Japanese boxing, and with that said let us bring you the 5 most significant wins for... Koki Kameda!
Noel Arambulet (November 26th 2005)
An obvious first choice for Koki Kameda's first significant win was his June 2005 win over Saman Sorjaturong and it was in contention here, however when put into some perspective it was a rather meaningless win. Although Saman was a huge name in the lower weights in the 1990's by 2005 he was shot to pieces and had picked up just 1 win in the previous 4 years, whilst losing 4 bouts. He was a shadow of himself. Venezuelan fighter Noel Arambulet on the other hand had been a world champion in 2004, losing WBA the belt in a competitive bout to Yutaka Niida, in their second bout. Not only was Arambulet relevant at the time Kameda beat him but he had never been stopped, and had a number of wins over Japanese fighters. This wasn't Kameda picking on a faded name to beat up but was a relevant contender that he stopped in 7 rounds silencing the critics who complained about his first 8 bouts coming against Thai foes. Notably Arambulet remained a notable fighter right through to 2008, when he fought for the final time, making this win a stellar one for Kameda that aged well.
Juan Jose Landaeta I (August 2nd 2006)
Less than a year after proving his value against Arambulet we saw Kameda get his first world title fight, and take on another Venezuelan opponent, as he took on Juan Jose Landaeta for the vacant WBA Light Flyweight title. The talented Landaeta had never won a world title but was very much a world class fighter, and hadpreviously held "interim" honours. He proved to be a huge step up for Kameda, dropping the Japanese fighter in the first round and then giving as good as he got through a very hotly contested 12 round fight. At the final bell it seemed like Kameda was set to suffer his first loss, but got the run of the green and took a split decision victory. The result sent Japanese boxing fans, and media in to an outrage, and saw fans apologising to Landaeta through the embassy.
This win was as controversial as they come but saw Kameda winning the WBA Light Flyweight title, his first world title and boosting his profile massively. The controversy lead to an immediate rematch, which Kameda easily won, but still left a bad taste in mouth of local fans. This was the win that put Kameda's name at the forefront of everyone's mind in Japan and it's really hard to over-state how huge this win was, despite the massive black cloud cast by the decision.
Daisuke Naito (November 29th 2009)
Kameda's stay at Light Flyweight was a relatively short one, with his only world title defense being the rematch with Landaeta. He then vacated the title and moved up in weight to chase a second world title. He finally got his shot in 2009 in a massive all-Japanese bout with the then WBC Flyweight champion Daisuke Naito.
The bout had everything going for it. Not only did Naito have the WBC title but he also had a huge win over Koki's brother Daiki Kameda, a win that had seen Daiki come close to getting disqualified in the final round for a variety of fouls, that had been encouraged by Koki and their father Shiro.
Despite the animosity between the two fighters the bout was actually a surprisingly tame affair with Kameda using his younger, fresher, faster legs to easily out box the slower, older, Naito. At the time Kameda was 23 whilst Naito was 35, ancient for a Flyweight, and the age difference showed. Kameda won, but put on one of his least exciting performances, knowing that a win here was more important than putting on a show. This wasn't the best bout Kameda was in, but was, for us at least, his biggest and best win. It was a win that saw him claiming not just the WBC title but also the Lineal championship, and it was the first time he faced a fellow Japanese fighter.
Due to the build up and expectations regarding the bout the fight managed to draw an average of 43.1% of TV audience and peaked at a frankly staggering 51.2%, making it the most viewed broadcast of anything in Japan in 2009!
Alexander Munoz (December 26th 2010)
Sadly for Kameda his reign at Flyweight was even shorter than his reign at Light Flyweight, losing the belt in his first defense to Thai legend Pongsaklek Wonjongkam. He then skipped Super Flyweight all together, until his final career bout, and campaigned at Bantamweight. His first fight at 118lbs saw him take on the big punching Alexander Munoz for the WBA "regular" Bantamweight title. For Kameda it was a chance to become the first Japanese "3-weight" world champion, but to do so he would have to get past a man who had developed a reputation as a Japan Killer.
Munoz, the third Venezuelan on this list, had beaten the likes of Celes Kobayashi, Eiji Kojima, Hidenobu Honda, Nobuo Nashiro, Kuniyuki Aizawa and Katsushige Kawashima in Japan. He had never lost on Japanese soil. That was until Kameda beat him, dropping Munoz in round 12 en route to a clear decision.
Whilst becoming a "3 weight champion" was impressive the win also saw Koki and Daiki both holding world titles at the same time, becoming the first Japanese brothers to hold world titles. This was a major achievement and was later followed by Tomoki winning a world title, to leave all 3 Kameda's as world champions and put them in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Jung Oh Son (November 19th 2013)
Our final choice will likely raise a few eyebrows, as Jung Oh Son was certainly not the biggest name that Koki Kameda beat during his WBA Bantamweight world title reign. It was also not his biggest win as a Bantamweight world champion, especially given beat the talented Hugo Ruiz. The bout however is a massively significant win from an historic point of view, and we do love history in this series. The bout saw Kameda travel to South Korea to defeat the relatively Son, who dropped Kameda in the 10th round but didn't do enough to dethrone the Japanese fighter. The bout, which strangely used the 1/2 point scoring system, saw Kameda narrowly retain his title in what was his final defense of the belt.
What made this win so significant is that it was only the fifth time a Japanese male world champion had retain a title on foreign soil, making him the fourth man to achieve the feat, and the second in Korea.
The win was followed by the WBA ordering Kameda to face "Super" champion Anselmo Moreno. Kameda wasn't a fan of that bout, and decide to vacate the title, before out of the ring issues curtailed his career for almost a year. He would returning in November 2014 to score his final win before losing to Kohei Kono in 2015, in the first ever all-Japanese world title bout on US soil. Following that loss retired from professional boxing, though has remained a notable figure within the sport.
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