By Jake Donovan
The Kameda boxing family is back in the title picture.
Tomoki Kameda picked up an interim version of the super bantamweight (122 pound) title following a decision win over Abigail Medina in their fast-paced 12-round battle Monday at the famed Koakuen Hall in Japan.
Photo Credit: Premier Boxing Champions Twitter Account
Scores were 117-111 (twice) and 116-112 in favor of Kameda, who has now scored five straight victories since a pair of disputed losses to Jamie McDonnell in 2015.
It was essentially a tale of two fights, but with Kameda’s side of the story extending deep enough to create an insurmountable lead. The 27-year old—whose older brothers, former titlists Koki and Daiki Kameda both stepped away from the game in 2015—pumped his jab early and often, keeping the visiting Medina at bay long enough to pile up rounds.
The boxing display presented by Kameda was a subtle changes of pace from his normally more aggressive style, but never to the point of sacrificing entertainment value—or more importantly, rounds.
Medina—a 30-year old Dominican who lives in and fights out of Spain—struggled to adapt early on in his first major title fight. A rally in the latter half of the contest came far too late to erase the early deficit, although keeping Kameda honest and making him work hard for his first title win in more than four years.
While most will disregard his actual title status, Kameda’s win very much puts him in prime position for a fight at one of the division’s top players in 2019.
The interim title fight was ordered by the World Boxing Council (WBC) due to full titlist, Rey Vargas being injured and unable to compete for most of 2018. The unbeaten boxer from Mexico was hoping to return by December, but a more likely scenario will land him in the ring sometime in the first quarter of the new year.
Early whispers have him in negotiations for a unification bout with World Boxing Association (WBA) titlist Danny Roman. Their affiliation through co-promoters Golden Boy Promotions (Vargas) and Matchroom Boxing USA (Roman) create a clear path for such a proposed fight to take place on sports streaming service DAZN USA.
However, Kameda could create a road block on such a path given his title win.
The WBC super bantamweight mandatory is overdue—in fact by about five years. Vargas won the vacant title in a 12-round win over Gavin McDonnell in February 2017. His title opportunity came about as the leading contender to Hozumi Hasegawa, who retired following his upset knockout win of Hugo Ruiz in September ’16.
Three successful defenses have since followed for Vargas, all coming in voluntary title fights and essentially in-house matchups versus other boxers under the Golden Boy Promotions umbrella. A points win over Azat Hovhannisyan in May was followed by shoulder surgery, which has put Vargas on the shelf for the rest of the year—and on the hook to make a mandatory title defense once medically cleared to return to the ring.
His undetermined recovery period forced the WBC to order an interim title fight between leading contenders Kameda and Medina. Both took the fight with the understanding that the winner would be given a clear shot at the full title next—be it versus Vargas, or an automatic upgrade should the WBC strip him.
Either way, Kameda’s start to 2019 already looks promising as does the chances for his family to reclaim title status after having previously made history.
Kameda and older brothers Koki and Daiki remain the only trio of brothers ever to win and simultaneously reign as major titlists. The first part of history was created in Aug. ’13, when Tomoki outpointed Paulus Ambunda to win the WBO bantamweight title, joining older brother Koki as a titlist in the same division.
One month later, Daiki became a two-division titlist following a 12-round win over Rodrigo Guerrero in their vacant super flyweight title fight.
Their joint run was short-lived, with Koki only making one more defense—a highly questionable split decision win over JungOh Son in Nov. ‘13—and Daiki losing a split decision to an overweight Liborio Solis in their Dec. ’13 attempted unification bout.
That left Tomoki as the family’s only active titlist, making three successful defenses of his crown before being stripped in 2015. The decision came about due to Kameda entering a title fight with Jamie McDonnell, whose secondary title status disallowed unification bouts. Kameda was forced to relinquish his title in agreeing to the CBS-televised bout in Hidalgo, Texas, where he suffered a questionable points loss and thus his undefeated status as well.
A similarly questionable outcome came of their rematch four months later—also in Texas (Corpus Christi) and on CBS as part of the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) series—on a show where Daiki also suffered a defeat and hasn’t since returned to the ring. Koki would also be dealt a loss on a PBC platform, dropping a spirited 12-round decision to countryman Kohei Kono in Chicago on Spike TV in Oct. ’13.
Tomoki has been the only family member to since grace a ring, returning in Oct. ’16 in Mexico and with each of his last four starts coming at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo.
One way or another, Kameda’s next fight will be with a major title at stake.
The bout streamed live on Abema TV, a Japan-based internet company. The event marked the first time ever that a major title fight (interim status notwithstanding) from Japan aired exclusively on a web-based platform.