Koki Kameda easily turned back the challenge of John Mark Apolinario for the 7th successful defense of his bantamweight belt Tuesday evening in Tokyo, Japan.
Scores were 119-107, 118-108 and 117-109 in a bout that finally produced a definitive and indisputable outcome for both fighters, something that hasn’t been the norm for either in recent fights.
What wasn’t produced was any form of entertaining action.
The bout – which aired live on TBS Tokyo – was slow and awkward, with most of the fighting left to Kameda. The defending titlist had no fear of incoming at any point in the fight. Apolinario’s meager knockout-to-win ratio already suggested as much; his effort – or lack thereof – confirmed the lack of power, or even desire.
Frequent clinching forced referee Gustavo Padilla to be as much of a part of the action as the two combatants, never a good sign for a prizefight. Still, the fight was not without its bright spots. Given carta blanche to fight as he pleased, Kameda delivered a vicious body attack to further strike fear in the heart of an already seemingly stage-struck Apolinario.
Action picked up late in the fight. On the occasions that Apolinario decided to let his hands go, he wound up paying a heavy price. Knockdowns suffered in rounds 10 and 12 sealed his fate, though sandwiched in between was a brave stand late in the 11th as he was able to exploit Kameda’s leaky defense.
The last-ditch effort by Apolinario was an isolated moment, as Kameda was made to look like a world beater for much of the night – a sight vaguely seen since moving up to bantamweight three years ago. Frustrations of going tooth and nail with previous title challengers Hugo Ruiz and Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym were taken out on his feather-fisted challenger, producing his first knockdowns since Dec. ’11 when he thrice dropped Mario Macias en route to a 4th round knockout.
The bout was also Kameda’s last knockout, with Tuesday’s affair marking his fourth straight fight to go the full 12-round distance. It wasn’t for a lack of trying, but at least produced a final verdict that leaves no room for detractors to claim suspect scoring to have taken place.
With the win, Kameda advances to 31-1 (17KO). A former junior flyweight titlist and World lineal flyweight champ, the 26-year old has now won nine straight. The lone loss of his career came at the hands of Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, dropping a majority decision to the legendary Thai boxer to end his brief flyweight championship reign.
Apolinario falls to 17-3-3 (4KO), having come up short in each of his past three title challenges. A pair of draw verdicts against Roberto ‘La Araña’ Vasquez came with an interim title at stake, and also with the purpose of providing Kameda with a mandatory challenger.
Tuesday’s uninspiring effort should leave the Filipino challenger way on the outside looking in when future title fights are discussed.
Meanwhile, the Kameda family is entrenched in the title picture for the next few weeks, with potential for history to be made.
Youngest brother Tomoki Kameda – the lone remaining unbeaten fighter of the trio – embarks on his first title challenge, as he faces unbeaten Paulus Ambunda on August 1 in the Philippines. A separate version of the bantamweight title than the one Koki possesses is on the line. A win by Tomoki will mark the first time in boxing history when three brothers held major alphabet titles.
A win by Tomoki will be needed in order for the Kameda brothers to take their history making moments into unchartered territory. Daiki Kameda is in preparation for an attempt at a second super flyweight title reign when he faces fellow former champ Rodrigo Guerrero in their Sept. 7th vacant title fight.
Wins by Tomoki and Daiki will present boxing with a once-in-a-lifetime occasion of three brothers simultaneously serving as world champs. Even in an era of more belts than ever available for the taking, the feat is still near-unthinkable.
All of that remains wishful thinking for the moment. For nearly a year, so too was the concept of Koki Kameda enduring a title challenge sans a disputable outcome. One item at a time crossed off the list.