By Jake Donovan (photos courtesy of Kameda Promotions)
Koki Kameda and John Mark Apolinario successfully made weight for their bantamweight title fight, which takes place Tuesday evening at Tokyo Big Sight in Tokyo, Japan.
Both fighters hit the scales sculpted and ready for combat, weighing in at the divisional limit of 118 lb.
Kameda (30-1, 17KO) makes the 7th defense of the alphabet belt he acquired in Dec. ’10. The Japanese southpaw – whose ‘everybody loves to hate’ status translates into huge ratings in his native Japan – has won eight straight since his flyweight championship reign came to an end in a March ’10 points loss to eventual Hall of Fame entrant Pongsaklek Wongjonkam.
His past two title defenses saw anxious moments from the point of the final bell to the reading of the scorecards. Many considered the three-division champ fortunate to have escaped with a split decision in last December’s win over Mexico’s Hugo Ruiz.
A lesser outcry was to be found in a close call over Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym this past April, but the fight was on the table at a point when Kameda was running on fumes in the championship rounds.
The win was well earned even if razor-thin, but indicative that perhaps the 26-year old is maxed out at the weight class.
The same cannot be said of the rail thin Apolinario, whose lean physique was well-noted by the reigning titlist.
"I call my opponent ‘Gari Gari Kun’ because of the focus on weight loss,” Kameda quipped. ‘Gari Gari Kun’ is a popular frozen candy popsicle in Japan, with the term ‘Gari Gari’ loosely translating to ‘too thin.’
“I ate a lot of" Gari Gari Kun” to lose weight, because this is the best for the weight loss,” joked Kameda, while enjoying a bowl of soup. “My condition is the best… I possess the better skills. I am confident and will enjoy (Tuesday’s) fight."
After both fighters weighed in, Kameda presented the visiting Filipino with a Gari Gari Kun bar, partially paying homage to his “Iceman” nickname but also suggesting his challenger’s unconfirmed struggles to make weight.
“Because my nickname is ‘The Iceman’, Kameda gave me frozen candy,” Apolinario (17-2-3, 4KO) noted while posing with the frozen treat. “But he’s overselling that point. The main thing is that (Tuesday), you can expect a fight from the fighter known as ‘The Iceman.’
Apilinario enters the fight on the heels of a pair of draw verdicts against former flyweight titlist Roberto ‘La Arana’ Vasquez. The pair of fights took place in Argentina and Panama, making Tuesday’s title challenge versus Kameda his third straight road trip, having not fought in his native Philippines since Dec. ’11.
Conversely, Kameda has spent nearly his entire career in Japan, save for a pair of fights in Mexico in 2008.
A win by Kameda will come at an active time for his fighting family. Youngest brother Tomoki Kameda (27-0, 18KO) challenges for a separate portion of the bantamweight crown, when he faces unbeaten titlist Paulus Ambunda on August 3.
One month later, Daiki Kameda welcomes the challenge of Rodrigo Guerrero in a matchup of former 115 lb. titlists. The winner will become a two-time titlist, as a vacant 115 lb. belt is at stake for their Sept. 3rd showdown in Kagawa, Japan.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America.