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Koki Kameda vs. Pongsaklek Wonjongkam Fight Preview and Prediction

Koki Kameda vs. Pongsaklek Wonjongkam Fight Preview and Prediction
When: Saturday, March 27, 2010
Where: Ariake Coliseum, Tokyo, Japan
Weight Class: WBC Flyweight Championship

By Scotty L of Predictem.com

Koki Kameda, 22-0 (14 KOs), WBC Flyweight Champion, Tokyo, Japan. Vs. Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, 74-3-1 (39 KOs), Thailand.

Fight Betting Odds: Koki Kameda (-150), Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (+120)
Over/Under: Over 10.5 (-350), Over 10.5 (+270)

Analysis: New WBC Flyweight Champion Koki Kameda makes his first defense Saturday against former longtime champion Pongsaklek Wonjongkam in Tokyo. Pongsaklek, 32, held the same title for almost 7 years before losing it to Daisuke Naito—the same man Kameda beat for the title. It was Pongsaklek’s only defeat since 1996, the only “L” over the course of 70 fights. That’s quite a record.

This is a fight of great interest to the lighter-weight enthusiasts. Fans of the flyweight division can count on entertaining fights at a far greater ratio than followers of the heavyweight division. This is a fight that figures to provide thrills. Kameda is more of the prodigy, a young sensation at 23 now beginning to live up to his tremendous hype. Pongsaklek is a legend, the finest fighter in his division over the course of the past decade.

It is a difficult fight to handicap. Kameda had his skeptics. He was flashy and a huge celebrity in Japan, but then he wouldn’t look so great in the ring. He seemed fortunate to win a decision over unexceptional Juan Landaeta in a 108 lb. title fight a few years ago. There were other erratic performances and Kameda seemed to have flattened out. Looking back, however it seemed a wise course of action to let the foot off the gas in young Koki’s career.

He was fighting in world title fights at 19 and while he showed ability, he also appeared immature and otherwise not ready for prime time. He was given a lengthy series of fights to regain his confidence, which he obviously has managed to do. He emerged from the experience as a mature 23-year-old, a better-rounded fighter. Had he continued on the same course, he likely would have faltered. He was allowed to get his bearings and as a result, he is a confident, strong, and respected champion.

Reading into their respective showings against former champion Daisuke Naito as a guide to how this fight will play out is a tricky endeavor. The Thai Pongsaklek has fought Naito four times. The first two fights were easy wins for Pongsaklek, particularly the first fight where he stopped the Japanese challenger in a mere 34 seconds. Naito upset Pongsaklek 5 years later in a close fight. They had a rematch in March of 2008 that resulted in a draw. Meanwhile, Kameda fought Naito once, relieving him of his belt via clear unanimous decision four months ago.

Naito, a longtime battler with a kamikaze style that doesn’t lend itself to longevity, looked to be a little worn at the edges by the time Kameda fought him. Perhaps Pongsaklek fought the better version of Naito in their bouts. At any rate, Pongsaklek looks to represent a stiffer challenge to Kameda than Naito did last November.

If Pongsaklek can beat the leading candidate to be the signature flyweight of this decade, it would be an incredible feat for the best flyweight of the past decade. There might be a trap here in just assuming Pongsaklek is a little over the hill. The signs might be pointing that way and it stands to reason that he has depreciated, but is there really evidence that the great ex-champ can’t still get it done?

I expect a very competitive fight with both men having success. I think Kameda is boxing really well at this point in his career. Pongsaklek has achieved a level in his career that Kameda will be lucky to get close to. However, Kameda is far fresher and that should translate to a higher energy level in the fight. He is adept at holding his gloves and arms up to create a difficult target, while being sneaky with fast counters.

Scotty's Pick to Win: Pongsaklek might be able to make this fight close, but with this fight being in Tokyo, he might have to win upwards of 9-10 rounds to get credit for the win and that’s asking a lot of the 15-year veteran. Not to single out Japan, or to say all hometown fighters are recipients of unscrupulous judging, but it is a factor for a person betting on this fight. One would also be inclined to perceive this as a distance fight, bringing factors such as judging more to the forefront.

Kameda will possibly need no such help. I think Kameda can out-box the Thai in a reasonably close bout. I picture a high-energy and competitive fight with both men having their moments, with the young Kameda able to keep his nose in front for the duration of the fight. Bet on Koki Kameda to win.

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