Tomoki Kameda Outpoints Abigail Medina, Eyes Vargas Next
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.
Boxing Insider Interview Part 2: Tomoki Kameda is Crafting his Style
Boxing Insider Interview Part 2: Tomoki Kameda is Crafting his Style
By: Kirk Jackson
Questions for the former WBO Bantamweight Champion Tomoki Kameda 31-2 (19 KO’s):
“Kameda-ke Saishū Heiki”
Boxing Insider: Our last interview, you mentioned you are a blend of more than three styles. There is the Japanese style of boxing, Cuban style and the Mexican style. It’s important to acknowledge there is a generalization to each style, but there are exceptions to each style. There are unique traits from each style, can you elaborate on the characteristics from each style you’ve absorbed and blended into your hybrid style of fighting?
Tomoki Kameda: There are few that I can mention. Let’s say with Mexican style, body shots and upper-cut and the close range brawling. From the Cubans are the movements especially the legs and the fighting strategy. From the Japanese style, the heart of a samurai and the aggressiveness.
BI: Can you also talk about the other styles or traits from other styles you have?
TK: I am learning from Filipino style as well. I watched a lot [Manny] Pacquiao’s and [Nonito] Donaire’s fights and the Filipino trainers improve my speed and the levels of punches. Level is that the volume of punches they can deliver upper part and/or lower part of the body.
BI: When you prepare for an opponent, do you have a particular style or certain strategies in mind you want to implement based on your opponent? Is the objective based on their physical traits, strengths and weaknesses? Are the technical deficiencies or aspects of their style what you look to exploit with your versatility?
TK: I need to know my opponents so I can prepare myself for it. Of course, I have the basic skills already, my basic weapons if we put it that way. From there I can add more the necessary skills I need for a particular opponent. I have to study all the aspects of my opponent, so when I am in the ring, everything will be automatic.
BI: Or would you prefer to have your opponent react to your actions?
TK: When the fighters are in the ring, they want to dictate the pace. I want to dominate, so I want to impose to the other fighter my actions.
BI: Can you discuss some of the things you learned from your father and older brothers? I wouldn’t want for you to reveal too many secretes, but is what you learned from your family, certain moves you integrated into your style; or more so the philosophy and mentality on what it takes to be a successful fighter at the highest level?
TK: I think it is more of the genes, we, the Kameda family is blessed with a good set of genes. What I mean about that is we won’t have a hard time in taking care of our bodies. We can always make the weight and maintain it. Another thing is that since we are family, we are always training together. Giving tips and support.
BI: There is the Jeet Kune Do style of fighting heavily influenced by Bruce Lee; Jeet Kune Do is not fixed or patterned, it is essentially a philosophy/fighting style with guiding thoughts that serve as a guide for movement and action. Can that be a way of analyzing your style?
TK: In way, it is like that since I incorporate different styles that work for me. I could easily change my style depends on my opponent.
BI: Your personality stands out when you fight; I believe it transcends and many observers watching gauge a sense of who you are. It’s artistic; I believe it’s a good trait because it connects the observer to the athlete. Can you sense the personality or the mentality of an opponent when you’re in the ring with them?
TK: Everything is unpredictable once you are inside the ring. When the first punch is thrown, your body will be in auto mode. You will remember everything what you have trained for. It is more of feeling myself and giving me confidence.
BI: We’ve discussed your ability to change range. I believe your versatility; the ability to change range makes you an unpredictable fighter. Can you elaborate on other elements in which makes you unpredictable? Is it your speed, different angles, or another facet of your style you possess?
TK: It depends with my opponent. If my opponent likes to move a lot then I have to employ a strategy for that. I won’t elaborate the details, but I guess you know what I mean.
BI: Is there a facet you want to add to improve as a fighter?
TK: In all of my fights, it is a learning experience. I would know afterwards what I need to improve on and what skills I need to maintain. This will make me a better fighter.
BI: Do you believe you have any weaknesses?
TK: Everyone has their own weaknesses, for me, I believe it is my speed. I need to train more for that in order to be faster.
BI: Do you have an all-time dream match-up you would have liked to participate in?
TK: There is none in particular. I would love to fight whoever is the best. I want to test myself on how much I can achieve… but if I have my way, I believe a fight with Manny Pacquiao would be a dream match.
BI: Is there anyone specifically right now you want to fight?
TK: Whoever is holding the belt right now is the one I want to fight. I want to get that belt again. It’s mine.
Thanks again Tomoki Kameda!
*Kameda is currently ranked in the top ten for both the WBC and WBA sanctioning bodies and is seeking another world title in the near future.
Boxing Insider Interview with Tomoki Kameda
Boxing Insider Interview with Tomoki Kameda
By: Kirk Jackson
Questions for former WBO Bantamweight Champion Tomoki Kameda 31-2 (19 KO’s):
“Kameda-ke Saishū Heiki”
BI: Thanks again for your time Mr. Kameda; I hope everything is well with you.
BI: You come from a fighting family; your father is an amazing trainer and your older brothers are world renowned champions. Do you consider yourself the best fighter in your family? If not as of yet, what will it take to be recognized as the best fighter in your family?
TK: I believe that all of us, the 3 brothers are the best. We have achieved several records. The oldest, Koki, was able to get 3 different divisions championship. The first one in Japan to achieve it. Daiki was 2 different divisions champion and then me. I was able to get one championship belt and the first one in Japan to get the Bantam weight championship belt. With that records, we were able to get a Guinness Book of World Records recognition as the most siblings to win world boxing titles. To be the best fighter in the family…our father has that honor. He trained all 3 of us.
BI: Is being the best fighter in your family important to you? Is there a sibling rivalry between you three? Does that provide you with extra incentive to train harder and seek bigger challenges?
TK: As I have mentioned all 3 of us are the best and yes, it is important. It is natural to have sibling rivalries as any siblings would have. In our case, growing up with my brothers has helped me a lot in training. I have learned a lot from them. The moves, their advice and all other stuff. I maybe the youngest, but my older brothers helped me a lot in order to achieve what they have achieved.
BI: Can you describe growing up in the rough environments of Osaka?
TK: Is it really rough? We don’t see it that way. I think it was ordinary. I believe that this is a misconception from the outsiders. If they think it that way, it creates an image that we, from Osaka, are tough. Yes, we are. Osaka has the Kameda brothers.
BI: At age 15 you moved to Mexico in pursuit of dreams and to essentially to search for great challenges. Can you talk about the cultural transition and the difficulties adjusting to a new language, culture and surroundings?
TK: The first time I went to Mexico, it was really difficult. Number one is the language, I didn’t know any Spanish language. Of course, the culture itself. Very different from where I grew up. But Mexican people are very warm and friendly. I was able to adjust and adapt the new environment. They are very kind and helpful.
When I started training, Mexican style of boxing training is different from what my father had trained me. It was good for me because it was an added knowledge, an addition to my boxing IQ. I had to ask a lot of questions to my coach while I was training. It is very important to learn everything they taught me and the depth of this kind of training.
BI: Based on your origin, it can be stated you possess traditional elements from the “Japanese” fighting style however, you moved to Mexico to learn from Mexican trainers. It can be said you have the influence of the “Mexican” style fighting as well. Your current trainer Ismael Salas is from Cuba and familiar with the Cuban School of fighting. Is it accurate to say you are a blend of all three styles?
TK: Yes, you can say that. I am a blend of different fighting styles, but not just 3. I believe it is very important to learn different fighting styles to make you a flexible fighter. Also now, I am training in Japan but with Filipino trainers.
BI: In the past you stated you are a mix between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather. When watching your fights, I can see elements comparable to Mayweather; your precision, patience, timing and ability to change range. Which elements from each fighter do you feel like you represent?
TK: I want to be a hybrid fighter. From Pacquiao I was able to learn that a big heart is also essential when in the ring. Get his stamina, never lose steam from the beginning of the fight until the very last round. From Mayweather, yes, you are correct that I am learning to be precise, patient and the change of range. It makes me an unpredictable fighter. Opponents will be confused as to what element I’ll use when fighting.
BI: Mayweather and Pacquiao retired last year and were long considered the best fighters pound for pound for the past decade or so. Who is the best fighter pound for pound in your eyes and why?
TK: Yes, both of them are considered the best fighters pound for pound, but nobody broke that mold compared to the late Muhammad Ali, may he rest in peace. Ali has the speed and stamina. He owns every part of the ring. Overall performance is spectacular, that’s why he is the greatest.
BI: You are a world champion; first Japanese fighter to win a WBO title. What is your most rewarding accomplishment as a professional so far?
TK: Winning the title itself is the most rewarding. That is the goal of every boxers. I was able to achieve that goal. Worked hard for it, you can say blood, sweat and tears. When I was able to get that belt I really felt I’m on the top of the world. Plus it helped us, the 3 brothers, to get a Guinness record.
BI: What are your goals for this year and beyond?
TK: I am setting my eyes on a higher division. Most probably the Super Bantam. That will be my next goal and achieve that goal.
BI: Do you plan on staying in the Bantamweight division? Do you plan on moving up to Super Bantamweight and how many weight classes do you feel like you can comfortably move up?
TK: Yes, I have the plan to move up to Super Bantamweight. I have mentioned that it is my next goal. I think I could still be comfortable with Super Featherweight and/or the Lightweight division. We’ll see. I want to achieve it step by step. As they say, “there is nowhere else to go but up.”
BI: Your fights against Jamie McDonnell were extremely competitive and the decisions could have gone either way. Depending on who you ask, some may say you won both if not at least one of the fights. What did you learn from those encounters that you’ll utilize moving forward in your career?
TK: The two fights went the other way, but it is a learning experience. After those fights it made me realize that there is more that I need to learn as a fighter. I am now even more eager to train and love boxing more. It was a big motivation for me. It makes me hungrier to get that belt again and even more up. I am very enthusiastic and highly motivated in training.
BI: What is the toughest thing you had to deal with as a professional?
TK: Being a champion and staying that way is the most difficult thing to deal with. Everyone sees you as a target. They want to bring you down. I should always train in order to be at a higher level. Other fighters are training hard as well. I have to be a step or more ahead.
BI: Aside from your unique life story and background, what is a trait that separates you from other fighters?
TK: Many fighters would claim that they are hybrid fighters, but that is the trait that separates me from them. You know my background and what I have achieved. I trained in many different fighting styles. I am learning continuously and my enthusiasm in fighting is always high. Like a child that is always learning and always want to achieve my goal.
BI: How can the fans get in touch with you and follow what you’re doing? Do you have a message for the fans out there?
TK: My fans can follow me in my Instagram, @tomokikameda and also Twitter, @tomokikameda. To my fans out there, I appreciate that you are continuously supporting me. Now I am training harder to be the world champion again. Your support is giving me more energy and motivation. Thank you for that.