When we typically do these "What a Shock" articles we look at upsets scored by Asian fighters. Today we flip that on it's head and look at a big betting upset in 2018 against an Asian fighter. On paper the bout is perhaps not remembered as much of an upset but in regards to the betting this was a genuine surprise and one that sent the loser in to retirement.
August 17th 2018
Fantasy Springs Casino, Indio, California, USA
Yoshihiro Kamegai (27-4-2, 24) Vs Greg Vendetti (19-2-1, 12)
We're going to begin this by saying that the bookies can get it wrong, really wrong. That appears to have been the case in August 2018 when Japanese veteran Yoshihiro Kamegai was priced as 2/9 favourite with the UK bookies to beat American Greg "The Villain" Vendetti, who was a 3/1 under-dog.
Of course of the two fighters Kamegai is the more well known, even in the US. He is well known as a fan favourite due to his thrilling action bouts and his wars. His fights against the likes of Robert Guerrero, Jesus Soto Karass and Miguel Cotto were were all enjoyable fights that saw Kamegai take significant punishment but never stop coming forward and never stop trying to fight. His limitations were always clear, and he had slow clumsy footwork, awkward technique, open defense, but he more than made up for that with his incredible chin, work rate and will to win.
By August 2018 Kamegai had been out of the ring for a year, following injuries, but was still expected to have too much in the tank for the somewhat unknown Greg Vendetti.
Whilst Kamegai had been mixing in and around world level for a while Vendetti was mostly beating fighters with losing records. His most notable wins were against Ayi Bruce and a razor thin win over Khiary Gray, both in 2017. He had done nothing of note, and looked like a fighter who would look nice on Kamegai's record, with there being much substance behind it.
Sadly for Kamegai no one told him that Vendetti didn't want to play the part of the easy comeback opponent. Instead Vendetti wanted saw Kamegai as a chance to build his own name. This was a huge step up for Vendetti, his first bout on TV, and his first bout in front of a major market.
From the opening round both men looked hungry but it didn't take long for the extra speed and youth of Vendetti to shine through. He seemed much quicker than the 3 year old Kamegai, who marched forward but struggled to land much of value. Up close Vendetti wasn't just landing good shots, but also also tying up Kamegai, smothering the Japanese veteran and preventing Kamegai from letting his hands fly with much consistency.
Round by round Vendetti would out work Kamegai in the pocket, landing not just a significantly higher number than the Japanese fighter, but also landing the shots cleaner in what was a brilliant little inside war. It seemed like Kamegai was the heavier hitter, but struggled to get his shots go at the same volume as Vendetti.
Sadly for Kamegai as the rounds went on he began to look his age. The energy we had seen him show against the likes of Jesus Soto Karass just wasn't there. A hard career, injuries and being 35 years old had began to catch up with him. He was never looking hurt, it would likely have taken Vendetti a baseball bat to have hurt Kamegai, but he was looking like a man on the slide, despite a solid round 4. It was a case that he simply couldn't keep it up as he had earlier in his career.
The phone booth action was great for fans of hard hitting wars, but by the end of the 10th round there was only one winner. Kamegai had had moments, he had had some good rounds, but they were only short lived success, and there really was no way the judges could give the bout to the pre-fight favourite. Instead the judges got it right, scoring the bout 97-93 and 98-92, twice, to Vendetti, who made the most of his big opportunity.
Kamegai wouldn't fight after this, retiring in November 2018 and explaining that he wasn't the fighter he had once been. As for Vendetti he would lose to Michel Soro less than 4 months after this win, but did rediscover his form after that and, at the time of writing, he is still an active fighter. Sadly though the win over Kamegai is his biggest win, by some distance.
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).