When he was 15 years old, Tomoki Kameda traveled to Texas to see the type of fighter that he hoped to see in the mirror one day.
In April 2007, Manny Pacquiao battled Jorge Solis at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
In the crowd that night, a young Kameda took in the action, watching Pacquiao play the hammer and pound Solis into the canvas for an eighth-round knockout.
That’s the kind of fighter he wanted to be: explosive, exciting, the one who dictates the action, the one who fills cavernous arenas.
Eight years later, Tomoki Kameda (31-0, 19 KOs) is returning to Texas, this time for a fight of his own, and the significance isn’t lost on him: In numerous ways, he’s become the kind of boxer that Pacquiao inspired him to be, a kinetic, come-forward presence who doesn't just want to put on a show, he wants to be the show.
“Obviously, it really motivates me to fight where Manny fought,” says Kameda, who trains and fights out of Mexico. “He’s one of my favorite fighters. And there’s a big Mexican population there. That gets me even more excited.”
Kameda will need to be plenty pumped when he takes on British 118-pound champ Jamie McDonnell (25-2-1, 12 KOs) at State Farm Arena in Hidalgo, Texas on Saturday, which will air on CBS at 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT.
McDonnell is a shrewd, cagey, well-tested veteran who will, in turn, look to test Kameda himself.
McDonnell has fought on big stages before, such as when he defeated Tabtimdaeng Na Rachawat in front of a crowd of 80,000 at London’s Wembley Stadium on the Carl Froch-George Groves II undercard last May, and he has never been stopped in his career.
He’ll provide an intriguing style matchup for Kameda as a taller counterpuncher who will likely try to use his reach advantage to fight from the outside and keep Kameda at bay.
“He’s a tremendous fighter, he’s well-rounded, he’s a good boxer—you don’t become two-time world champion if you’re not a good fighter,” Kameda says of his opponent. “But one thing he does have is two losses. I’m undefeated, I’m the better fighter, and on May 9, I’m going to show the world why I’m pound-for-pound one of the best fighters in the world.”
This will be Kameda’s third straight fight in the United States after making his American debut last July, when he knocked out Pungluang Sor Singyu on the Saul Alvarez-Erislandy Lara undercard in Las Vegas.
This is where he’s wanted to be since he was a teenager sitting in the stands, longing to be standing in the ring.
“It’s always been my dream to fight in the United States,” Kameda says. “When I started, I wanted to conquer Japan. I did that. Then I went to Mexico and did everything possible that you could do in Mexico.
“But the United States is where the best boxers fight,” he continues, including himself on that list. “That’s where I’ve wanted to be.”