LOS ANGELES-After weeks of anticipation and long lines waiting outside the day of the fight, high expectations were not diminished by the actual confrontation between Mexico’s Jesus Soto Karass and Japan’s Yoshihiro Kamegai on Friday.
It was a head-on crash as expected.
The super welterweight clash between Kamegai (26-3-2, 23 KOs) and Soto Karass (28-10-4, 18 KOs) was announced a few months ago and those with knowledge of each prizefighter could foresee what equaled to boxing Armageddon at Belasco Theater.
It wasn’t one of those fights that slowly heated up to a hot boil. This was an explosion; a match tossed into a tank of gasoline; a nuclear explosion of uppercuts and overhand rights. It was Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo all over again.
Whatever the reason, if a Mexican warrior is placed against a Japanese samurai, the least you can expect is a blaze of epic proportions.
Soto Karass has participated in a few of these battering fests; in fact he was groomed on these types of battles for years with Antonio Margarito and Alfredo Angulo as tag team members. But Kamegai has just recently joined the elite suicide club that only takes members who care little for defense and nitro boost their offense.
Kamegai can fight.
The opening round saw Soto Karass open up with a solid one-two combination as if to tell the Japanese fighter: this is what you can expect in this town.
Kamegai was no less emphatic with attacking the Mexican fighter’s body with a relentless concentration of blows aimed for the mid-section and liver. As if he needed inspiration, members of his team were shouting “cuerpo, cuerpo” Spanish for body. That he did as he fired blows and deflected oncoming attacks by twisting his body one way and the other.
For three consecutive rounds the attack by both was non-stop. But finally in the fourth, Soto Karass seemed to slow down as Kamegai attacked from long range with stifling right hands that snapped the Mexican fighter’s head back a few times.
A few rounds after that, Kamegai seemed to slow and Soto Karass launched overhand rights that connected on the head, shoulders and neck of the Japanese fighter. Neither fighter complained of the low blows and rabbit punches. This was a fight and neither was willing to concede.
Kamegai was clever in using distance and angles to keep from absorbing solid shots from Soto Karass. But just when it seemed the Japanese fighter was about to take over, the Mexican fighter would turn on the juice and land combinations. Both fighters would never let the other gain too much momentum.
“I’m still getting used to the time zone here, but I feel really good about my performance tonight. Soto Karass did catch me a few times, but every time he did, he was met with my counterpunches,” said Kamegai who lives and trains in Tokyo, Japan. “Soto Karass was the kind of fighter I was expecting to fight—a true warrior”
Toward the stretch it seemed Kamegai was finally getting momentum but Soto Karass turned on the juice again and rallied with combinations. Press row was baffled by the fight that was much too close to call one or the other the loser or winner.
“It wouldn’t be a bad decision if it was called a draw,” said one reporter.
After 10 rounds one judge scored it 97-93 for Kamegai, one judge 96-94 for Soto Karass and one saw it even at 95-95.
It was a draw and most of the media nodded their heads at the fair judgment.
“This fight was a war, exactly what the fans expected. The people truly won tonight. I felt really good in the ring, but Kamegai was a true, Japanese warrior,” said Soto Karass who now lives in Los Angeles. “I feel we both delivered an exciting night of boxing.”
Vyacheslav Shabransky stopped Derrick Findley at the end of the third round.
Genaro Gamez won by knockout of Archie Weah at 2:24 of the first round.
Niko Valdez blasted out Roberto Ramirez at 1:58 of the first round including three knockdowns.
Jonathan Navarro knocked out Tavorus Teague at the end of the second round.
Jausce Gonzalez knocked out Noe Perez at 1:23 of the first round.