By Jake Donovan
The worst of Liborio Solis' road trip to Japan ended Monday at the scales, as fight night provided far more memorable results.
One day after being forced to vacate his 115 lb. title due to missing weight, Venezuela's Solis found redemption in the form of a split decision win over Daiki Kameda in a 12-round war Tuesday evening in Osaka, Japan.
Solis was already facing an uphill climb in trying to claim a win over a Kameda on the road in Japan. The Land of the Rising Sun was kind to the visiting Venezuelan when he conquered Kohei Kono to win a 115 lb. belt in May, but such courtesy never figured to be on the table for Tuesday's affair.
Scores were 116-112 (twice) and 115-113 in a bout previously billed as a title unifier in the super flyweight division, but instead a non-title affair once all was said and done. The bout aired live on TBS Japan, serving as the main event of a championship tripleheader that saw younger brother Tomoki Kameda and countryman Katsunari Takayama retain their respective alphabet titles with decision wins.
Any chance of leaving Japan with his own title - much less two - ended during Monday's pre-fight weigh-in. Solis tipped the scales at 117.5 - well over the 115 lb. super flyweight limit. The scale snafu meant that both belts were on the line only for Kameda, who would retain his alphabet belt regardless of what occurred while a loss would mean the belt Solis owned prior to Monday would remain vacant.
The latter scenario wound up playing out, over the course of a 12-round affair that saw both fighters leave it all in the ring.
Whereas older brother Koki and younger brother Tomoki - the latter a victor over Namibia's Immanuel Naidjala in the evening's chief support - are known as mobile boxers, Daiki prefers to stand and trade, regardless of opposition. It makes for fun fights, though also meant Solis - already with a weight advantage - wouldn't have to work as hard to find his opponent.
The styles played out exactly as listed on the scouting report, which made for thrilling two-way action for much of the contest. Kameda took the fight to Solis early on, presumably jumping out to an early lead. Kameda was the quicker of the two, but Solis managed a steady pace to enjoy sustained success while forcing Kameda to expend energy in working that much harder to mark his territory.
Anxious moments came for both fighters in the middle rounds, and also required frequent intervention from referee Tony Weeks. The fight never reached a point to where either fighter was a threat to get tossed, but both fighters were warned for hitting on the break.
Solis found constant success with straight punches, but Kameda's body shots proved to be a lifesaver after enduring several rounds of punishment. Solis kept his attack upstairs, bloodying the nose of Kameda but only providing an undesirable visual rather than fight-altering damage.
Kameda dug deep as the rounds hit double digits, shooting off a rapid-fire combination to set the tone for an active 10th round as the pace surprisingly never slowed. Solis' offensive output was dramatically reduced as Kameda wisely smothered his opponet, widening his punches enough to provide a shoeshine for the judges while minimizing the threat of return fire.
Solis was clearly the stronger fighter on paper and throughout the bout, but Kameda was not without his eye-opening moments. A bailout left hook proved right on time in the 11th round, just as the house fighter was thought to be a spent fighter. Solis took the shot well, in hindsight ending any threat of Kameda leaving with two belts in tow.
The 12th and final round saw Solis pick up the pace, fighting like a boxer who believed three more minutes of hard work was all it would take to have his arm raised in victory.
To the surprise of all but those in his corner, his strategy proved correct.
Solis advances to 16-3-1 (7KO) with the win. His 2013 campaign consisted of two fights, both of which took place in Japan. The 31-year old scored a minor upset with a majority decision win over Kohei Kono to win a 115 lb. belt this past May.
While the reign was short-lived, he still did his part to deny an additional footnote to an otherwise history making year for the family of his opponent.
Kameda understandably wore a stunned look once the scores were announced, believing that his effort - coupled with the comfort of fighting at home - would be enough to win. By all accounts, the judges got this one right. The 115-113 card in his favor wasn't outrageous but less telling of 12 rounds of action that took place, as his record falls to 29-4 (18KO).
A win for Kameda would have meant the first unified titlist in his household, which would have only added to what was still an amazing year for the fighter and his brothers.
The middle sibling won a belt in his second weight class after upending Rodrigo Guerrero this past September. The feat marked the first time three brothers simultaneously served as major titlists, a feat that will most likely never again occur.
The feat came just one month after the Kameda brothers entered the world record books, when Tomoki Kameda's title-lifting effort over Paulus Ambunda marked the first time ever that three brothers claimed major titles at any point in their career.
Tuesday's fight saw Daiki fail to momentarily surge ahead of the pack in coming up a few rounds short of title unification. However, Solis' folly at the scales means that all three Kameda brothers remain titlists as 2013 come to a close.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox