Rey Vargas Overcomes Tomoki Kameda’s Early Assault to Defend Super Bantamweight title
By Robert Aaron Contreras
On Saturday, super bantamweight champion Rey Vargas (34-0, 22 KO) fought off his toughest and most experienced title challenger to date, former beltholder Tomoki Kameda (36-3, 20 KO).
Three identical scores of 117-110 were met with boos from the crowd in Carson, California but Vargas overcame an early assault from his foe, adjusting in the middle stages to take advantage of his incredible size, and keep Kameda at bay to earn a justifiable unanimous decision.
“Kameda has a lot of experience but I fought an intelligent fight,” Vargas said in the ring. “The idea was to throw a lot of punches. I knew he was going to push forward but we made it a smart fight.”
PHOTO CREDIT: Tom Hogan – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy
The first two rounds appeared to belong to Kameda, 28, of Osaka, Japan. He continually befuddled the much taller Vargas, 28, with snapping overhand rights and calculated pressure—never darting in from the same angle twice, never giving the defending champion a standstill target to tee off on.
Flickering body punches set up lethal overhand rights from Kameda. And Vargas, punching in reverse, was unable to establish any early offense.
Vargas moved forward with purpose in the third period. But Kameda wrapped up his man to avoid being caught in a corner. The sizable champion relied on his range, navigating the outside of the ring, tossing out a long jab and smashing hooks into Kameda’s gloves. The Japanese banger remained effective with vicious, arcing blows focused upstairs.
The action grew chippy in fourth frame. Though over the next three rounds Vargas would outwork his challenger. Kameda was a bully up close but tried jabbing with the Mexican beltholder, which Vargas was going to win every single time.
Now picking Kameda apart, Vargas stepped in with elongated jabs, pausing to interchange right and left uppercuts. He had stole the momentum back and a telling moment in Round 7 demonstrated the fight’s unfolding narrative as Vargas pumped out two consecutive jabs, followed by a straight right hand (one-one-two) that skid off the left side of Kameda’s wincing face.
More prodding left hands from Vargas caught Kameda off guard, who would eat the shots while cocking back right hands.
In Round 8, there continued the undulating pattern between both men’s contrasting gameplans. Kameda, commending the center of the ring, walked the champion down, but in too much of an uncreative, straightforward manner that Vargas routinely deterred with long hooks. The Japanese brawler didn’t let off, dipping and gluing himself at times to Vargas’ chest, delivering very short punches to the midsection.
Slinging uppercuts from Vargas were more eye-catching and surely gained more attention from the ringside judges. Kameda found no success on the inside in the ninth and tenth stanzas. Even when he made it inside he opted to clamp up Vargas.
Urgency was at its peak by the penultimate round. With the end in sight, Kameda came barreling in. And Vargas’ offense disappeared, avoiding any exchanges. Kameda clinched up with his opponent and wasn’t shy about punching out of the break.
Early in Round 12, Kameda drove Vargas to the ropes, and as referee Jerry Cantu was between the two, he stuffed two punches into Vargas. The champion played up the punches, but on principle, Cantu deducted a point from Kameda.
The few minutes remaining were made up of Kameda chasing down a roaming Vargas, chippy shots reining down from all over, desperation punches—the creative pressure that stole the first segment of the fight, gone; as was all hope.
Kameda conceded the night to Vargas. “I recognize Vargas,” he said, refuting the jeering audience members. “I respect him as a champion—he won.”
The hefty output from Vargas amounted to nearly 800 punches, landing 173 of 793 total shots (22 percent) while Kameda landed 133 of 394 total punches (34 percent). The Mexican slugger threw over 400 jabs. Kameda, less than 100.
Now the five-time defending champion, Vargas seems to have turned his attention to unified titlist Danny Roman, who was in attendance.
“Danny, you are here,” Vargas said. “We need to unify titles. Why not? I want three titles. We’re ready. The people want the fight. When Mexicans fight another Mexican, it’s a war.”
Ronny Rios shocks Diego de la Hoya by sixth-round knockout
After continually falling short at the world level, Ronny Rios (31-3, 15 KO) pulled off the biggest win of his career, upending rising star Diego de la Hoya (21-1, 10 KO). It was blood and guts, two-way action through five rounds but early in the sixth period, a two-punch combination from Rios sent de la Hoya to a knee, and despite rising to his feet, the hotshot prospect let the referee know he had had enough.
It was nothing short of a feeling-out round in the opening three minutes. By the second round, Rios loosened up, briefly buckling DLH’s knees with a winging right hand. De la Hoya stuffed a couple of his own right hands into the chin of Rios and the action picked up in both directions.
Both men traded in the center of the ring—another classic SoCal melee seemed imminent. Each relying on their own brand of box-fighting: Rios firing short, chopping blows; de la Hoya’s right and left hands flaring here and there from a longer range.
Rios, 29, was eager to stay on top of his man to open the third stand. He immediately let his weight carry him onto a overhand right. Some left digs to the body complimented the assault. So the 24-year-old de la Hoya, now battling a bloody nose in addition to his rabid veteran opponent, began putting his hands together: various right and left hands always preceding a sharp right uppercut.
The younger combatant continued to have success, stepping into a long jab, and doubling up on lead right crosses. His combinations flowed effortlessly, but Rios went to work—not as pretty
But punches still careening in from every angle: right hooks followed by a sweeping left.
The violence seemed to simmer down in the fifth period. Early on here, de la Hoya refused to engage except on his own terms. Rios shot in and DLH easily sprang backwards, away from danger. Then he would blind his man upstairs with an elongated jab; once Rios lowered his hand and raised his gloves to catch it, a right uppercut from de la Hoya found its target through the older man’s gloves.
Rios wouldn’t be denied for long. Some left hooks bounced off of de la Hoya’s head. And the prospect was forced to bite down on his mouthpiece as he returned fire.
Both men walked out for the fateful sixth round composed. After a quick exchange, Rios coiled up his body to throw a left body hook, and then a slashing right uppercut that crashed into de la Hoya’s head. The upstart went down and after speaking with referee Rudy Barragan, his undefeated ledger was gone.
Rios has now won back-to-back bouts. Since 2014, his only two losses were a title fight and title eliminator. Five of his previous six wins are by knockout.
According to DAZN’s punch stats, Rios connected on 131 of 316 total punches (42 percent) and de la Hoya landed 112 of 336 total punches (33 percent). Rios also delivered 52 parent of his power punches, compared to DLH’s 45 percent.
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.