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Naito-Kameda encounter today

200911koki001

By Joe Koizumi

The day has come. WBC flyweight champ Daisuke Naito (36-2-3, 22 KOs), Japan, will risk his prestigious belt against unbeaten compatriot Koki Kameda (21-0, 14 KOs) today (Sunday) in Saitama (the adjacent prefecture to Tokyo), Japan. Some 20,000 people are expected to be in attendance at the Saitama Super Arena.

The weigh-in ceremony took place yesterday at the Koreakuen Hall, where both Naito and Kameda tipped the beam at the 112-pound class limit.

This is a sort of Battle of Ages, since Naito is a 35-year-old warrior making his sixth defense, while Kameda, ex-WBA 108-pound ruler, is a still upcoming youngster, twelve years his junior at 23. The modest and soft-spoken champ is loved by everybody, while the arrogant young man’s flamboyance is hated by a great many fight fans and the general public as well. Kameda’s lack of humbleness and politeness (which are so important in this country) caused peoples’ hatred against him.

A majority of Japanese people hope Naito to win, but the fight itself seems so competitive that it may be very hard to pick up the winner before their long-anticipated encounter. The old champ lately showed his apparent wear-and-tear and decline, scoring a come-from-behind tenth-round stoppage of Tomonobu Shimizu and a hairline victory over unknown and neglected Chinese Xiong Zhao Zhong. Naito was disappointingly floored by Xiong’s roundhouse right hook when losing his equilibrium in a very tough defense this May.

The young and fresh southpaw Kameda also has a problem. He has fought just eight times in three years since he renounced the WBA light flyweight belt after keeping it against Venezuelan Juan Landaeta in December 2006. It was a grudge fight, as Kameda badly hit the deck and very barely earned a controversial decision to acquire the vacant WBA throne five months earlier. So plenty of television watchers saw Kameda lose that they made tremendously many protesting calls to TBS TV and the Japan Boxing Commission (JBC). But Kameda, in their rematch, utilized his previously unseen footwork to clearly outscore the puzzed lefty Landaeta.

Naito is well-known by his unorthodox way of fighting, ducking low, sidestepping awkwardly and throwing punches from unpredictable angles. Naito, however, has recently forfeited his potential trickiness to be simply an old soldier. We cannot see how strong Kameda is, as he hasn’t fought any competitive opponents. Busily moving between Japan and Mexico, Kameda reportedly keeps training and improving, but his improvement hasn’t been proven as he easily defeated only over matched opponents such as Irfan Ogah, Salvador Montes, Humberto Pool, et al.

It will be telecast nationwide in Japan tonight, as the public pay attentions to this sensational contest presented by Miyata Promotions.




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