Doug Fischer

Kameda won’t replace Agbeko in bantam tournament final

Tomoki Kameda, an undefeated Japanese prospect who is usually based in Mexico, was mentioned as a possible replacement for Joseph Agbeko immediately after it was learned that the IBF bantamweight titleholder would have to withdraw from Saturday's bantamweight tournament final against Abner Mares due to a severe leg injury or possible siatic nerve damage.

However, Kameda (18-0, 12 knockouts), is training with his older brother Koki, the WBA's "regular" bantamweight titleholder, in the Philippines, for a May 7 card in Japan.

"We thought Tomoki could replace Agbeko because he's normally in Mexico," said Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, which promotes Mares. "However, it's not going to work with him being [in the Philippines].

"[Golden Boy matchmaker] Eric Gomez is desperately searching for a replacement. It's an uphill battle because Abner is in a division where most of the top fighters are from other countries."

Whoever Gomez is able to find on such short notice will have to be cleared by Ken Hershman, the head of sports programming for Showtime, which organized the 118-pound tournament. Hershman is in on a family vacation in Italy and could not be reached by Schaefer on Wednesday when the news broke of Agbeko's withdraw.

"If a replacement can't be found I hope Showtime goes ahead with the consolation bout [between Yonnhy Perez and Vic Darchinyan] and maybe one of the undercard bouts for Saturday," said Schaefer, who is the lead promoter for Saturday's show at Nokia Theatre. "And then [Agbeko's promoter] Don King and I can get together and reschedule the tournament final as soon as possible.

"Hopefully, it will be sooner rather than later. I've heard all kinds of things on how long Agbeko will be out, and I don't want to speculate on that without hearing from a doctor, but if he can't be ready to go in a reasonable amount of time, maybe he can be replaced for the final, as Showtime has done with the participants of the Super Six [super middleweight tournament] who had to withdraw due to serious injuries."  

Schaefer said he hoped to have a formal announcement on the decision for the Mares situation at Thursday's final press conference for the April 23 show.

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