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Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2010

News photo
Love-hate relationship: The polarizing Kameda family, Daiki, Koki and Tomoki, are one of Japanese boxing's main draws. KYODO PHOTO


Kameda clan on top of Japanese boxing after big night

You don't have to like Koki or Daiki Kameda of the fighting Kameda family.

Jason Coskrey

In fact, you probably don't. They're brash, they're cocky and they're arrogant. Their swaggering ways have overshadowed their immense talent, amusing some while rubbing others the wrong way.

The boxing brothers are gifted inside of the ring and not shy about letting you know it. All in all, they're just the kick in the pants Japanese boxing needs.

The Kamedas don't shy away from the bad boy image that's, fairly or not, been bestowed upon them. They embrace it. They owe much of their popularity to it. The duo seem to love being the center of attention; Koki hams it up for the camera at every opportunity, while Daiki was once known for singing to the crowd after victories.

Neither had to work hard for the spotlight during a double main event on Sunday. With both in title matches, the eyes of the Japanese boxing world was squarely on them, for all the right reasons for once.

Naturally, they reveled in it.

Daiki hit the ring first and was impressive in the beginning of his WBA flyweight title defense against Silvio Olteanu. He faded in the latter stages, walking into punches at one point, but still managed to retain his belt in a split decision, raising his arms after the final bell as if the result was never in question.

Koki was up next, heading to the ring outfitted in a shiny costume resembling a knight's armor.

Facing Alexendar Munoz for the vacant WBA bantamweight title, the elder Kameda brother outboxed his opponent early and then pummeled him late, nearly scoring a knockout in a bruising final-round display.

Their father and former trainer, Shiro, watched from the crowd, where he's been banished after taking the fall for his sons' numerous dustups with boxing officials.

Shiro's presence was a reminder of a past his sons are increasingly trying to distance themselves from. The family was vilified in Oct. 2007, when Daiki resorted to illegal elbows and body slams during a title fight against champion Daisuke Naito.

The fallout from the event led to swift action against the troublemaking family, with Shiro having his license revoked indefinitely, Daiki being handed a one-year ban and Koki, also involved, receiving a disciplinary warning.

Things are different now, and the Kamedas are all smiles again. Suspensions served long ago, both are wearing gold now and were treated like champions on Sunday after what they had dubbed, the "Kameda Family Fighting Festival."

Loved or hated, the talented duo brings limelight back to a sport starved for attention.

Neither brother seems particularly worried about labels. They're fighters and at present extremely pleased with themselves. However they're viewed, they've got the Asian boxing world's attention.

Which is exactly the way they like it.

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