Sidney Boquiren recaps this past weekend's boxing action from Japan. For more Japanese boxing updates, you can follow Sidney on twitter: RingwalkNippon@Twitter
Kameda Defends WBA Bantamweight title
While it was not the explosive performance for which he had hoped, Koki Kameda succeeded in notching a stoppage victory in the first defence of his alphabet trinket, battering challenger Daniel Diaz into quitting on his stool after eleven frames. The brash 24-year old champion looked great in spots - particularly when he remembered to keep moving and throw in combination - and capitalized on his advantage in speed and the Nicaraguan's inability to avoid his left hand. Kameda improved to 25-1, 16KO.
The fight played out in three acts with the defending titleholder in control of the pace throughout. In Act 1, the first four rounds, Kameda showed continued improvement in his evolution as a boxer-puncher, using good footwork to get inside the much taller Diaz's reach to score with lead lefts and combinations. The Osaka native flashed a decent right hook and had better timing with his counterpunching as well. Despite the disadvantages in physical dimensions, Kameda was clearly the stronger of the two combatants and his punches carried more authority than his counterpart's.
However, Kameda seemed to take his foot off the pedal in the middle frames, allowing Diaz to go on the offensive. The Nicaraguan had found the champ a difficult target in the earlier rounds due to the height differential and his superior speed, but as Kameda surprisingly ceased his movement, Diaz was able to compensate quality with quantity. The challenger's right uppercut, which the beltholder had been weary of in the previous rounds, would find its way through Kameda's guard with more frequency. Looping hooks would also connect. The middle of the seventh featured one of the better exchanges in the fight, as Diaz scored with several hard shots before Kameda finally reasserted himself. As the champ elected to pick his spots, Diaz's activity allowed him to make his way back on the scorecards.
A knockdown awarded to Kameda in the eighth stopped any momentum the challenger had gathered and signalled the transition toward the finale. Though Diaz did not appear to be hurt as an opportunistic punch merely caught him as he was off-balance, the artificial success would urge Kameda to become more aggressive (though still picking his spots to do so). Attacking almost exclusively with his left hand, the titleholder buckled the challenger on several occasions beginning in the ninth. A well-timed overhand left in he middle of that stanza knocked Diaz's mouthpiece out completely, and Kameda would deal out more punishment with lead lefts followed by two or three more left hands. Though the Nicaraguan appeared to be more than capable of finishing the fight at the end of the eleventh, he decided not to come out of his corner for the final round.
While the victory will not be seen as one of the young champion's better performances, it was a good measuring stick of his position in the game at this point in time. Kameda is still very much a work-in-progress. Does he deserve to be mentioned among the top pugilists in the competitive bantamweight division? Certainly not. He has yet to show that he has carried his power to the bigger weight class and any one in the top five at 118 would have exposed the glaring defensive holes that appeared last night. Had that been Nonito Donaire, Vic Darchinyan or Abner Mares in the ring against Diaz, a guy who had not fought in a year, presented a minimal threat offensively, and whose head was always there to be hit, the fight would have been over within four.
However, Kameda still has promise for a respectable career should he continue to make improvement AND execute in the ring. It is frustrating to see him display subtle skills early in the fight only to fall into old habits as the bout progresses. To succeed at the bigger weight, not only will Kameda have to blend technique and effective aggression, he will need the stamina and physical strength to go 36 minutes on full throttle. His performance on Saturday showed that he still has a way to go.
Catch the fight on youtube while it's still available:
On the undercard...
Previously undefeated prospect Masao Nakamura was stopped in just 61 seconds by unheralded Ronald Pontillas. The OPBF super featherweight titleholder, who had racked up a perfect 12-0 record all by stoppage, was dropped twice by straight lefts from the Filipino southpaw forcing Nakamura's corner to throw in the towel.
Kameda's younger brother, Tomoki, also fought on the undercard, virtually shutting out Nathan Bolcio over ten frames. The 19-year old, who campaigns mainly in Mexico, earned a UD by scores of 100-90 (twice) and 100-91. He advances to 19-0 (12KO).
For more coverage of Japanese boxing, follow Sidney on Twitter: RingwalkNippon@Twitter