Tomoki Kameda adding third culture to his international tapestry

Sometimes, fate hands you perfectly placed homophones. Tomoki Kameda le encanta la comida. And Kameda isn’t shy about his love of food, either. The Japanese-born fighter who came into his own in Mexico hit a bit of serendipity between his surname and the Spanish word for “food,” and he’s not shy about his love of the latter. He has the kind of social media channels that are best avoided if you’re in between snacks.

Tomoki Kameda

Tomoki Kameda has embraced boxing in Japan, Mexico and the United States in turn.

But if you try to pin him down between teppanyaki and tamales, Tomoki Kameda proves to be as elusive as he hopes to be in the ring when he takes on 118-pound world champion Jamie McDonnell in their rematch Sunday in Corpus Christi, Texas (CBS, 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT).

“I can’t choose. I like them both equally,” said Kameda, who held his training camp in Las Vegas for the first time ever. “And I’m getting used to the burgers here, too.”

That cross-cultural tour of cuisine kind of encapsulates Kameda’s career. He’s been active in his native land, his adopted home and now, for what will be his fourth straight fight, the United States. He’s even thrown in a Philippines bout for good measure, and there’s no doubt his profile was raised in the United Kingdom after his thrilling, narrow loss to McDonnell.

“I enjoy fighting in different countries,” Kameda said. “I enjoy the different cultures. I wish I could go boxing worldwide and enjoy the different cultures and the environment.”

After his May 9 bout with McDonnell, Kameda’s first loss, he returned to Japan—he always goes back after a fight—where he rested up for a couple of weeks. Going back home, where the sport is small, if growing, compared to the U.S. and boxing-mad Mexico, always provides an instant study in contrast.

Growing up in Japan, Kameda was the youngest son of a boxing family—his brothers, Koki and Daiki, are both accomplished fighters in their own right. He didn’t start right away in the game, though. From 5 to 9 years old, he studied karate. He brought some of that technique into his counterpunching, too.

That family dynamic is still in play when he travels back home. They know Kameda there, but just as one of a unit. Not like when he walks the streets in Mexico, where Kameda moved as a teenager to train.

“They really know us as a family,” Kameda said of the Japanese fans. “They don’t really know me individually, but they definitely know the last name. In Mexico, it’s different. They know me as an individual fighter: Tomoki, ‘El Mexicanito.’”

Now he can carve out an identity in a third country, one win—and maybe a burger or two—at a time.

Get pumped for the McDonnell vs Kameda matchup with all the latest updates on our fight page.

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