Yoshihiro Yamegai engaged in a legit Fight of the Year candidate last summer, against Robert Guerrero, which is nice, but the 32-year-old boxer, born in Sapporo, Japan, admits he has much left to do in this sport to be able to call it a day, and be satisfied with his prizefighting tenure.
The 25-2-1 (with 22 KOs) righty takes a step in a direction, forward or backward, we won’t know until this evening, when he gloves up against game vet Alfonso Gomez at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, CA, on a Golden Boy card, portions of which will run on Fox Sports 1.
Kamegai spoke to TSS, and his words were translated by Nobu Ikushima. The boxer trains in Tokyo, he told me, and comes here for fights. He started boxing at age 13, and was supported, by and large, by his family. He lived in a “strict” household, he told me, but his dad embraced the kid’s efforts, as he saw his abilities flourish. He boxed in high school, and dad basically told him “do what you want” so he plugged on. He knew, he said, very early on that prizefighting was his calling. He chuckled when relaying to me that the word for “boxing gym” and “office worker” sound alike, and that his mom was a bit confused as to what he was up to at first.
“I appreciate the kind words about my fight with Guerrero,” he told me, “but I didn’t get the win. A win against Gomez will open doors for me, and I’m thankful for that.” In his last outing, he rebounded with a win, TKO4 over 13-3 Oscar Godoy in December.
The boxer told me that basically prizefighters, ones that aren’t world champs, garner more respect in the US than they do in Japan. The sport has been established longer here, that’s part of it, he explained. In fact, unless you are a world champion in Japan, a boxer can be “looked down upon.” So, getting to that WC-level seems to be of great importance to the fighter. “Before I retire, I want to see it through,” he continued. He doesn’t want to be looked down upon–Lord, who among us does?–and he repeated the phrase, “see it through” once again.
The fighter told me he has improved since fighting Guerrero. We saw a forward moving man with a world class chin against The Ghost, one with heart galore, who stood straight up a bit too much. His aggressiveness is not to be challenged. His uppercut landed, but not with enough force to really buzz Ghost too often. His right cross landed, and he does like to work inside, so expect him and Gomez (24-6-2 with 12 KOs) to do some trading in tight.
So, what changed since then? “I’ve improved in the power area,” Kamegai said. That has come about with a better handle on physical training, he said. Gomez, the Japanses boxer told me, has impressive tools, in speed, footwork, aggressiveness, and he is sometimes “awkward.” The visitor has “a few plans” to win, he stated, and will work inside or outside, or both, whatever makes sense. His power will be present in both spheres, he said.
Can he offer a prediction? “I’d like an easy win. But I think it will be a great fight for the fans, a tough fight.”
Any last words, Mr. Kamegai?
Yes, indeed. Could the announcers please get my name right, he requested.
“Yoh-shee-hero Kah-may-guy” is how it should be pronounced, for the record.
Fans, I’d DVR this one if you’re going out; I think it will be a back and forth rumble, indeed, a fan-friendly tussle.
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