Japanese superstar Koki Kameda took a page from Hozumi Hasegawa’s book by going up two weight classes following his first career loss against Thai legend Pongsaklek Wonjongkam in March.
Hasegawa, Kameda’s less popular but more-respected veteran countryman, jumped to featherweight after the career bantamweight was knocked out by Fernando Montiel in April. Kameda, a former 108-pound beltholder who lost a flyweight title to Wonjongkam, leapfrogged the 115-pound division to campaign at bantamweight.
Hasegawa won an alphabet title, against Juan Carlos Burgos last month, in his new division and that’s exactly what Kameda did against Alexander Munoz on Dec. 26 in Saitama, Japan.
Kameda’s unanimous decision over Munoz, an accomplished former junior bantamweight titleholder, was impressive enough to earn the 24-year-old talent a No. 10 rating in THE RING’s loaded bantamweight rankings.
The hard-fought 12 rounder, which Kameda won by scores of 117-109, 116-109, and 115-111, may have also earned him more respect among the Japanese public. Though Kameda (24-1, 15 knockouts) is wildly popular among his country’s youth his boastful nature and flamboyant style goes against Japanese tradition and has turned off older citizens.
However, he may have stoked some national pride by becoming the first Japanese fighter to beat Munoz, a hard-punching Venezuelan who had defeated six Japanese contenders in seven title bouts that took place in Japan.
Kameda withstood an early rounds attack from Munoz, who won his first 23 bouts by knockout, took control mid-way through the bout and dropped the 31-year-old veteran in the final round.
He’s a welcome addition to the deep and talented bantamweight division.
RING RATINGS UPDATE
Sasha Bakhtin (No. 8 last week), who has not fought in almost a year, exits. His departure allows Eric Morel (No. 9 last week) and Vic Darchinyan (No. 10 last week) to climb one rung each and makes room for Kameda, who had previously been fighting at flyweight, to debut at No. 10, thanks to his victory over Munoz.
Kameda (No. 1 last week) leaves the division to fight at 118 pounds. His departure bumps up everybody No. 2 and below one place each and allows Edgar Sosa to take over the No. 10 slot.