By Dennis Principe
Two-time world title challenger John Mark Apolinario is all set for his Japan campaign where he will get another shot at a world crown. The 23-year-old Apolinario (17-2-3, 4 knockouts) will meet Japan’s most popular fighter Koki Kameda in a 12-round title fight on July 23 in Tokyo. At stake is Kameda’s World Boxing Association (WBA) bantamweight crown. Apolinario said he is able to prepare sufficiently well for this fight as compared to his two previous title attempts which ended in controversial draws.
For his last two fights, Apolinario settled for even scores opposite Panamanian Roberto Vazquez in November 2012 and March 2013 both in Panama when they battled for the interim WBA bantamweight belt.
“I trained for only one month for the twin Vazquez bouts because back then I had to return to our province for personal reasons. But for this Kameda match I was able to train for two straight months,” said Apolinario.
Apolinario adds Kameda is a much easier target as compared to Vazquez.
“I had a tough time against the work rate of Vazquez. But against Kameda, I like his style of moving around and his habit of taking a pause after throwing combinations. For me, those are opportunities to attack,” said Apolinario.
The 26-year-old southpaw Kameda (30-1, 17 KO’s) is a two-time world champion who once held the World Boxing Council (WBC) flyweight crown.
Kameda won the vacant WBA bantamweight strap when he decisioned Venezuelan Alexander Munoz via 12-round decision last December 2010 in Japan. He has since defended the crown six times.
One of three fighting siblings, Kameda is known for his flamboyance and was once given a stern warning by the Japanese Boxing Commission when during a fight he told his brother Daiki to elbow opponent and compatriot Daisuke Naito in the eye in a WBC flyweight title fight.
Should Apolinario win he will become the country’s fifth world boxing champion.
Apolinario trained at the Quezon City gym of physician Rajon Yraola, a friend of Filipino boxing sensation Manny Pacquiao who is also responsible for leading former WBO superflyweight ruler Marvin Sonsona to a world championship.
The four current kingpins are IBO superflyweight titleholder Edrin Dapudong, WBO minimumweight champion Merlito Sabillo, WBO lightflyweight ruler Donnie Nietes and IBF 108-lb king Johnriel Casimero.
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