We've all heard of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, and we've decided to put our spin on things with "Six degrees of separation" looking to connect Asian fighters you may never have assumed were connected! Today we connect former world title contender Yoshihiro Kamegai to North Korean Olympic Silver medal winner Kim U Gil
Just as ground rules, we're not doing the more basic "A beat B who beat C who beat D" type of thing, but instead we want to link fighters in different ways. As a result we will limit A fought B connections, and try to get more varied connections together, as you'll see here! We also know there are often shorter routes to connect fighters, but that's not always the most interesting way to connect them.
1-Although a limited fighter Japan's Yoshihiro Kamegai built himself a cult following for his exciting, hard hitting wars, his energy and out put and his titanium chin. In his most notable bout he faced one of his hero's, and multi-weight world champion, Miguel Cotto for the WBO Light Middleweight title. Whilst Kamegai lost, he did manage to fight in a world title bout before finally hanging up the gloves.
2-Of course Miguel Cotto did fight other Asian fighters. His bout with Manny Pacquiao is one of his most notable, but his rivalry against Muhammadqodir Abdullaev is one that crossed between the amateurs and professional ranks. Famously Abdullaev beat Cotto in the amateurs, before Cotto avenged the result in the pros.
3-The amateur win for Muhammadqodir Abdullaev over Miguel Cotto came in the first round of the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, where Abdullaev won a Gold medal in the Light Welterweight division. Another fighter who picked up a Gold medal at the 2000 Olympics was Kazakh Light Middleweight Yermakhan Ibraimov, who scored a notable victory against future professional Middleweight world champion Jermain Taylor.
4-Prior to winning gold at the 2000 Olympics Yermakhan Ibraimov had also competed at the 1996 games, where he beat Markus Beyer on route to a Bronze medal. He wasn't the only Kazakh boxer picking up a medal in Atlanta, with Light Heavyweight Vasily Jirov going on to win the Gold medal, thanks to wins against the likes of Antonio Tarver and Troy Ross.
5-Along with his Olympic Gold medal at the 1996 games Vasily Jirov was also awarded the Val Barker trophy as the best boxer at the Olympics. A prior winner of that award was Kenyan fighter Philip Waruinge, who won it in 1968. Waruinge, who later fought in Japan as Philip Nakayama, only claimed Bronze at the Olympics, but was widely regarded to have been robbed in the semi-finals against local fighter Antonio Roldan, hence how he picked up the the Val Barker trophy despite failing to even make the final.
6-The 1968 Olympics wasn't the only one where Philip Waruinge competed. In fact he had fought in the the 1964 Olympics, losing to Heinz Schulz in the round of 16, and then return to the Olympic stage in 1972 where he took a Silver medal. Another man who won a Silver medal at the 1972 Olympics in Munich was North Korean Light Flyweight Kim U Gil. What's rather notable about Gil's medal is that it was the first Olympic boxing medal for a fighter representing North Korea.
(Image credit - Teiken)
When we talk about Japanese fighters who became fan favourites away from home few rival Yoshihiro Kamegai, who really made his name more in the west in the final few years of his career. The tough man from the Teiken gym was involved in some incredible bouts and whilst he wasn't the greatest boxer of all time he also knew how to put on a show with his incredible chin, work rate and will to win.
Whilst we all know Kamegai was a tough guy, there is a lot fans likely don't know about the talented Japanese warrior and with that in mind we look to bring 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Yoshihiro Kamegai!
1-Kamegai went 57-12 (31) in the amateurs and won 3 amateur titles on the Japanese domestic scene, including 2 in 2004, the year before his professional debut.
2-Walk out song was "Endless Journey" (終わりなき旅) by Mr Children, which we've included at the bottom of this article
3-In his 6th professional bout Kamegai was involved in rather remarkable scene where veteran referee Ukrid Sarasas was dropped, hard, by Kamegai's opponent Yasuhiro Kondo. Ukrid would later be a judge for Kamegai's sole defense of the OPBF Welterweight title in 2014 over Jung Hoon Yang.
4-In May 2010 Kamegai won the East Japan Boxing Association MVP of the month, for the previous month. Interestingly the Fighting Sprit award winner for that same month was Nihito Arakawa, two men are were both known for having bouts when they stepped foot in a US ring!
5-Kamegai's reign as the Japanese Light Welterweight champion ended in 2011 when he was forced to cancel a bout, at late notice, against Shinya Nagase. The bout was pencilled in for February 5th 2011, with Kamegai pulling out on February 3rd due to suffering from influenza and vacating the title as an apology. In fact both of Kamegai's title reigns, as the Japanese Light Welterweight and OPBF Welterweight champion, ended with him vacating.
6-During his professional career Kaegai won two of the Japanese annual boxing awards. For 2010 he, along with Ryo Miyazaki, won the new-comer award and in 2016he won the Best fight of the Year award for his April clash with Jesus Soto Kareass. Thsi was also shared alongside Shinsuke Yamanaka's September clash with Anselmo Moreno.
7-Strangely Kamegai never won a bout that went beyond 10 rounds, going 0-2 in 12 round bouts, and was actually 1-6-2 in bouts that went 10 or more rounds, winning only the first one he had back in 2007 against Daisuke Hata. On a somewhat connected note he scored stoppages in rounds 1-9
8-He adopted the "Maestrito", nickname from Mexican fighter Jose Luis Lopez, himself a former WBO Welterweight champion. He was later given the nickname "Corazón De Acero", or "Steel Heart" in English, by Oscar De La Hoya
9-For Kamegai's bout with Miguel Cotto the Japanese fighter got a reported $192,000 as his purse compared to Cotto's $750,000, meaning Kamegai got just over 25% of Cotto's purse
10-From his 10 bouts in the US Kamegai went 3-5-2 (3). He won his US debut, on October 1st 2011, won against Oscar Godoy, in December 2014 and won the rematch with Jesus Soto Karass in September 2017. In Japan however Kamegai went 24-0 (21). Whilst that down to his competition being much tougher in the US than it was in Japan, it's still interesting to see just how different his results were in the two counties.
Extra Fact - Despite his losses in the US Kamegai seemed to have a lasting effect on opponents he fought Stateside. Greg Vendetti, Miguel Cotto, Robert Guerrero all lost in their bout immediately following their wins over Kamegai, whilst Alfonso Gomez never fought after beating him. The only man to avoid this curse was Johan Perez, though he would go 7-6-1 following the Kamegai bout. Similarly the two men who earned a draw with Kamegai, Jorge Silva and Jesus Soto Karass, lost in their bout immediately following their clash with Kamegai.
It's fair to say that the month of August was relatively quiet for Asian fight fans. It wasn't “silent” by any means, but it was certainly quiet with the boxing turning down down during the Olympic period. That silence however ends tomorrow and we move in to a very busy, exciting and active September.
With so much action during the month we've decided to try and mark off some key dates for the month with a 3-part article of the upcoming Asian bouts. This is the first of those three parts and briefly covers fights between September 1st and September 12th.
Jerwin Ancajas Vs McJoe Arroyo
The action kicks off on the first Saturday of the month as Filipino star Jerwin Ancajas (24-1-1, 16) takes on IBF Super Flyweight champion McJoe Arroyo (17-0, 8). The bout will be the first defense by the Puerto Rican fighter, who won the title last year with a technical decision win against Arthur Villanueva. On the other hand Ancajas will be riding an 11 fight stoppage run into what is his first world title bout.
Naoya Inoue Vs Petchbarngborn Kokietgym
Just a day after the IBF Super Flyweight title be we see the WBO version of the title being fought for as Naoya Inoue (10-0, 8) looks for his third defense of the title. The “Monster” will be battling against Thai veteran Petchbarngborn Kokietgym (38-7-1, 18) in what looks like a straight forward defense for the champion. Whilst Inoue will be strongly favoured the Thai isn't travelling to just pick up a pay cheque and will instead be looking for one of the biggest upsets of the year.
Takuma Inoue Vs Froilan Saludar
On the same show on September 4th we will have several other bouts of note, including a mouth watering test for youngster Takuma Inoue (7-0, 2), who takes on Froilan Saludar (23-1-1, 14). This is a genuinely tough test for Inoue, who goes up against a man many tipped a few years ago to win a world title. Saludar knows that a loss here could be the end of his career whilst Inoue knows a win will help open the door to a world title fight either later this year or early next year.
Koki Inoue vs Heri Andriyanto
A third Inoue in action on September 4th is Koki Inoue (4-0, 3) who takes a step up in class as he faces Indonesian veteran Heri Andriyanto (22-22-2, 10) in an 8 round bout. The talented and exciting Inoue hasn't set the world on fire yet but has shown real potential and a win here against Andriyanto may be able to push him towards a domestic title fight. For the visitor the bout is likely to be painful but he's certainly proven his toughness in the past.
Satoshi Shimizu vs In Kyoo Lee
Still staying on that September 4th 4th card we'll finally see the professional debut of Satoshi Shimizu (0-0) who goes up against Korean visitor In Kyoo Lee (3-2, 1). The Japanese debutant is 30 years old and is expected to be fast tracked to the top so will almost certainly be looking to look fantastic here. But Lee is no push over and won't be travelling to just fall over in front of the 2012 Olympic Bronze medal winner.
Keita Obara Vs Eduard Troyanovsky
One of the most interesting bouts this month takes place in Russia and sees Japanese puncher Keita Obara (16-1-1, 15) battle against IBF Light Welterweight champion Eduard Troyanovsky (24-0, 21). The bout hasn't got much attention but looks almost certain to be a war between two massive punchers each looking to score a career defining win. We don't see this one going the distance but it will be fire works from start to end and should be a bit of a hidden gem.
Kenichi Ogawa vs Kento Matsushita
The month really steps up on September 10th, a day where an avid fan gets the chance to watch hours, and hours, of fights. The first of the many title bouts featuring Asian fighters takes place in Japan and sees Japanese Super Featherweight champion Kenichi Ogawa (18-1, 15) defending his title against veteran Kento Matsushita (34-9-7, 13). The bout should be a straight forward defense for the champion but he did look poor last time out before stopping Satoru Sugita.
Johnriel Casimero vs Charlie Edwards
The first of a number of world title fights involving an Asian fighter will see Filipino fighter Johnriel Casimero (22-3, 14) defending his IBF Flyweight title against unbeaten British novice Charlie Edwards (8-0, 3) in London. On paper this looks like an opportunity that has come too for Edwards however it's good to see Western fighters on the fast track and testing themselves against world class fighters like Casimero rather than padding their records.
Gennady Golovkin vs Kell Brook
Staying in London we'll also see a battle of unbeaten men trading blows for the Middleweight crown, as well as the WBC, IBF and IBO titles. The bout in question will see Kazakh star Gennady Golovkin (35-0, 32) taking on British fighter, and IBF Welterweight champion, Kell Brook (36-0, 25). Golovkin will be heavily favoured though some have suggested that this could be Golovkin's hardest bout so far and it could well open real doors in the UK for “GGG”.
Jesus Soto Karass vs Yoshihiro Kamegai II
Potentially the Fight of the Month is rematch as Japan's popular Yoshihiro Kamegai (26-3-2, 23) battles against Jesus Soto Karass (28-10-4, 18). These two men faced off in an all out war earlier this year and we're expecting something similar here with the two men both having styles which will always be fun to watch. Kamegai seemed to do enough to claim a win in their first bout, but the judges disagree and we'd not be shocked to see both putting it all out there for the win here.
Carlos Cuadras vs Roman Gonzalez
In a rare all-Teiken bout we'll see WBC Super Flyweight champion Carlos Cuadras (35-0-1, 27) defending his belt against pound-for-pound sensation Roman Gonzalez (45-0, 38). For Caudras the bout is great chance to legitimise his world title reign, which has been disappointing so far, whilst Gonzalez will be looking to become a 4-weight world champion. The bout is a rare title bout between unbeaten fighters and we can't help but be excited by this one.
Genesis Servania vs Alexander Espinoza
Action continues through Japan for much of the much and on September 11th fans in Ishikawa will get the chance to see world ranked Filipino Genesis Servania (27-0, 11) take on the heavy handed Alexander Espinoza (11-7, 10). Servania has had a frustrating career recently with inactivity, fighting only twice last year and not fighting this year, but will have to be careful here against a big punching Venezuelan who has gone the world distance with two former world champions.
Given the activity during the month part will be posted in the upcoming days and feature bouts from the 12th of September and onwards, including several world title bouts, the first of the WBO Asia Pacific title bouts to be held in Japan and a lot more!
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).