WBA flyweight champ Daiki Kameda (18-2, 11 KOs), 112, managed to retain his belt as he displayed a last surge from the ninth on, winning a unanimous decision over ex-titlist Takefumi Sakata (36-6-2, 17 KOs), 112, over twelve lousy rounds on Saturday in Tokyo, Japan. The official tallies seemed to have favored the defending champ more widely than the crowd witnessed: Alfredo Polanco (Mexico) 116-112, Wansoo Yuh (Korea) 117-112 and Lahcen Oumghar (Holland) 118-110. The referee was Stanley Christodoulou (South Africa). It was an encounter of Japanese compatriots, but was neither a clean fight nor a technically beautiful bout. Kameda, 21, looked less skillful, but attempted to score with big punches, while Sakata, 30, showed his trademark workmanlike style by monotonously going forward without throwing many jabs. Boxing is a subjective sport when decided by a decision of the judges. There appeared newspaper decisions on the less scientific but hard-fought contest such as 116-112, 115-113, 114-114 etc. but they admitted Kameda looked victorious, regardless of the degree of differences on points. Sakata, who had kept the WBA belt four times during his two-year reign from 2007, probably threw and landed more punches to Kameda throughout the bout, but it may be true that Kameda’s shots were more effective than those of the veteran ex-titlist. Many spiritual supporters to Sakata, therefore, insisted on Sakata’s win only because of his aggressiveness, if not effectiveness. The less experienced champ, however, apparently fought more cleverly than the veteran campaigner, utilizing his footwork, counterpunching and sly tactics of grabbing Sakata in the close range.
The first round eventually showcased the whole contest from the technical point of view. Sakata, some two inches shorter, positively kept boring in with busier but lighter combinations, while Kameda began showboating and countering with a few but stronger shots to the head. All the judges gave a point to the champ despite Sakata’s superior volume of punches. Sakata looked to dominate the second as he kept punching the lazy champ in the close quarter, though Kameda sometimes kept him from throwing punches by slyly grabbing him. The third round might be another sample of the official scores. Sakata, having fought many tough battles for twelve years, threw plenty of punches, caught the champ with accurate but light left hooks and seemed to have almost won a point.
But Kameda, in the closing seconds of this session, caught Sakata with a vicious countering left hook and almost toppled him, so the older challenger had to desperately grab him to avert his acceleration of attack. It’s Kameda that actually gained a point with the single shot. A head-collision in round three opened a gash over Sakata’s right eyebrow, which became a great nuisance for him to go on soundly. Sakata’s face would become that of Vito Antuofermo as the contest progressed. Sakata looked to be in command in the fourth, when he maintained the pressure and kept stalking the backpedaling champ. Although the open scoring system wasn’t put into practice, the official scores after the eighth were as follows: 78-74, 77-75, both for Kameda, and 76-76. It could be said that Sakata, a workman stylist, consumed more energy than the champ up to the end of the eighth as he kept going forward to make a futile attack and kept punching despite streaming blood. The harder he fought, the more he looked an ill-fated warrior.
In short, the younger champ obviously swept all the last four rounds. Sakata, usually based on his abundant stamina so that people often described his ability of fighting even twenty rounds, inexplicably showed slowing down. Kameda, despite his reportedly severe reduction of weight (losing more than twenty pounds in a week prior to the bout), looked still fresh and powerful probably because of his youth, though not throwing so many punches in combination.
The ninth saw Kameda catch the fading veteran with a solid straight right following a left hook that opened a bad laceration over the left optic of Sakata. His face was covered with cursed crimson. The game and gutsy Sakata, in the tenth, went on forward, but looked only to go forward to absorb Kameda’s counters of right crosses and left-right combos. The fading but still ferocious ex-champ kept punching in the eleventh, when he threw more shots which, however, looked least powerful for lack of snap in punches.
Kameda showed his youth and power even in the final round, swarming over the nearly exhausted ex-champ with still sharp shots. Sakata gamely displayed his retaliation, which was easily averted by the defending champ who was good at clinching or holding the aggressor.
When the decision was announced, the crowd’s reaction seemed very complex, as there were great many Sakata adherents that hated Kameda because of frequent misdemeanors. Kameda’s notorious father Shiro had been banned for life by the Japan Boxing Commission (JBC) since he previously threatened the JBC executive secretary Tsuyoshi Yasukochi, the WBC supervisor Edward Thangarajah and Mexican referee Lupe Garcia as well after his son Koki lost his WBC 112-pound belt to Pongsaklek Wonjongkam by a very unanimous decision here this March. He then angrily protested against Garcia’s penalization. The mad-dog-like father was forbidden this time to enter the dressing room or work the corner, so was forced to only shout from the ringside.
The antagonism between Kameda Gym and Kyoei Gym was well-known even among general people. The Kameda-Sakata confrontation, therefore, was such a grudge fight as the general public showed interests in the result. Japanese people, in principle, love the sincerity and sportsmanship in professional boxers, but all the Kamedas seem arrogant, bold, flamboyant and notorious. So, more than a half of the nation never has a good affection to the Kamedas. After too frequent scandals they had produced, the Kameda brothers and their father Shiro had been definitely isolated in the boxing fraternity.
The winner and still champ Kameda said, “I’m satisfied with the result as Sakata used to be a great champ, having defended his world belt four times. I’ve had a great weight problem as you know, so wish to discuss whether to move up with my family.”
The good loser Sakata said, “I did my best, but must accept the result as it is. I’d like to take time and consider my future.”
After his victory the champ Daiki Kameda sang a song that he himself composed, playing an electronic piano. It seemed better than his boxing performance. The Sakata followers quickly left the arena as they wouldn’t like to listen to such a song