Right now the Bantamweight division is one of the most interesting in Asian boxing. At the top of the tree we have WBC champion Shinsuke Yamanaka, arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter currently plying his trade in Asia, and close behind him with have a list of other top fighters each looking for their chance to claim a world title at 118lbs.
That list, which include Ryosuke Iwasa, Malcolm Tunacao, Suriyan Sor Rungvisai, Tepparith Kokietgym, Marlin Tapalaes, Mark Anthony Geraldo, Richard Pumicpic, Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym, Kentaro Masuda, Daiki Kameda and Drian Francisco amongst others is just showing the depth in the division and just how cramped it is up there for contenders, who really should be fighting between themselves to try and earn a mandatory position.
Between the contenders and Yamanaka is current WBO champion Tomoki Kameda (29-0, 18) who will be defending his WBO title for the second time as he takes on mandatory challenger Pungluang Sor Singyu (46-2, 31). This bout has been an on-going saga that began at the start of the year and will finally come to an end when the men finally get in the ring together on July 12th and battle it out in Las Vegas.
The bout is in Las Vegas after the camps of the two fighters agreed to have it outside of their respective homelands. For Kameda that was an obvious move as he can't actually get a license in Japan unless he wants to move gyms, something he has been unwilling to do so far. As for Pungluang we can only assume he has been offered a handsome pay package to give away home advantage, a price that Kameda's have been willing to pay due to the poor history Japanese fighters have had in Thailand. As a result the bout won't be shown live in Japan and due to the other bouts on the show in the US the bout is unlikely to be shown to the masses in the US, though is expected to feature on Sho Extreme as well Boxnation and, fingers crossed, a Thai channel as well.
Thankfully despite the issues surrounding the bout it does actually seem likely to be a brilliant clash between two men widely regarded as being amongst the top 10 in the Bantamweight division. Stylistically we're expecting something a bit special with the styles of the two men likely to gel very well and we're expecting it to also be competitive.
Of the two men the most versatile is Kameda who can fight on the front foot or the back foot. He's shown great footwork against pressure and he's also shown that he can take the initiative when wants. Compared to his brother's he's by far the most rounded of the 3 Kameda's though, just like Koki and Daiki, he does have his flaws and one of which is his lack of power which often fails to stop fighters trying to walk him down, and sometimes his mentality which can make fights closer than they should be.
With Kameda being able to box on the front foot with intelligent aggression or the back foot with sharp counter punching he does seem like a hard man to beat though we tend to feel that his lack of power would leave him in problems if an aggressively minded fighter had decent footwork, something Paulus Ambunda, his best opponent to date, lacked.
In Pungluang we have a somewhat basic fighter but one who does a lot of the basics very well. He's a come forward pressure fighter, like most Thai's, who keeps it tight defensively, applies very intense pressure and attacks both the head and body well. Although short for the weight he cuts distance very well and is extremely strong, tough and hard working.
Although fundamentally predictable Pungluang is a fighter who appears to be draining both mentally and physically. He won't back off from a fighter, he won't stop coming forward and he won't stop trying to beat you down. This draining effect of Pungluang's as seen when he scored his most notable win, a 9th round stoppage against AJ Banal.
What we're expecting to see is a determined and fired up Pungluang applying his typical pressure against Tomoki and the Japanese fighter being forced to box off the back foot. This should be similar to Tomoki Kameda's fight with Ambunda though we do think that Pungluang will manage to up the ante and get closer to Tomoki. If the Thai can get close, work the body and really take the fight to the champion then we actually feel we may see the title change hands here and Pungluang could well become a 2-time world champion.
From what we understand this is likely to be Kameda's last fight at Bantamweight before he moves up to Super Bantamweight. We actually think the young Japanese fighter will be better suited to 122lbs but he's trained hard for this one and would hate to leave the division following his first loss. We don't think he'll cut corners but we do fancy the Thai to take advantage of any struggles Tomoki has at making 118lbs.
(Image courtesy of OnesongChai)
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.