Report and picture by Masayoshi Yamasaki
Translated by Joe Koizumi
WBA bantamweight champ, Japanese southpaw Koki Kameda (29-1, 17 KOs), 118, unified the belts as he was awarded a split verdict over interim titlist Hugo Ruiz (31-2, 28 KOs), 118, Mexico, over twelve close rounds in Osaka, Japan, on Tuesday. Official tallies were as follows: Michael Lee (Korea) 116-113, Lahcen Oumghar (Netherland) 115-113, both for Kameda, but Stanley Christodoulou (South Africa) had it 117-113 for Ruiz. The referee was Gustavo Padilla (Panama).
Kameda, making his fifth defense, kept circling to maintain his long distance and avoided mixing it up with the taller Mexican until he showed his last surge in the championship rounds.
The much shorter Kameda, in the first round, kept moving side-to-side and Ruiz also carefully probed the champ’s constant mobility. From the second on, Kameda cautiously took his distance, while Ruiz kept patiently stalking the moving target. Whenever Kameda attempted to come close to the interim champ, Ruiz threw so strong counterpunches that Kameda couldn’t recklessly exchange punches with the taller Mexican in the close range.
The aggressor was Ruiz, who threw more punches even though they were blocked by Kameda’s tight guard and averted by his fast footwork. Ruiz appeared to be in command as he connected with solid shots to the champ’s face in round five.
The sixth, however, saw Kameda land a vicious southpaw right hook to have Ruiz temporarily lose his equilibrium near the ropes. But Kameda didn’t turn loose but Ruiz retaliated with more blows, though blocked or averted by the champ’s tight defense.
The taller Ruiz, in round eight, turned very positive and pugnacious as he connected with good combinations following a solid left-right combo.
After the tenth, the officials had tallied as follows: Christodoulou 99-93 for Ruiz, Lee 97-94 for Kameda and Oumghar 95-95. It was to be a two-round fight though the scores hadn’t been announced then.
Kameda, in the tenth, gamely came close to Ruiz and lifted southpaw left uppercuts to the fading rival. He was also in command in the eleventh. The final session witnessed Kameda desperately connect with short punches to the face in the close quarter.
Had Kameda started his final assault earlier, he would have been a clearer victor. But he had respected Ruiz’s weapon and power,
and conserved his energy for later rounds.
It wasn’t an overwhelming victory at all, but he fortunately kept his belt with his last surge that overcame his early deficits on points. It was such a close affair that either could have been the winner.
WBA supervisor: Alan Kim (Korea).