WBA bantamweight champion Koki Kameda successfully defended the crown for the sixth time, winning a split decision over Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym of Thailand on Sunday night in Osaka.

Koki, the oldest of the three Kameda boxing brothers, improved to a record of 30-1, including 17 knockouts. He is the only Japanese fighter to win titles in three weight divisions.

“I have nothing to say but sorry,” said Kameda. “All these people gathered to watch me and all I could do is this. I wanted to end it with a knockout. I want to evolve and come back stronger.”

It was the first time Kameda was fighting a fellow southpaw since surrendering the WBC flyweight crown to Thai Pongsaklek Wonjongkam in March 2010.

The 29-year-old Panomroonglek, who was taking his first shot at a world title, slipped to 36-2 (19 KOs).

Kameda, who had to change opponents twice less than a month before the bout, had predicted a KO but had to settle for a decision that at times appeared to be going in favor of his eighth-ranked challenger.

The champion began to land shots to the body with his right in the early rounds before picking up the pace, mixing in his right hook and left jab as the fight progressed.

But Panomroonglek cornered Kameda several times during the 12-rounder and staggered him on the ropes in the eighth and 11th rounds with heavy shots to the head and body at Bodymaker Colosseum.

The Thai boxer, however, could not find his way inside to land the knockout punch.

“I thought that I definitely won that fight,” said Panomroonglek. “I was a little sad when I heard the decision. If you asked the crowd they knew who won the fight. I don’t agree with the judges’ decision.”

Kameda, in fact, looked more like the loser as he left the ring in a stream of tears. His corner men, including his younger brother Daiki, had to console him as he walked head lowered back to the lockers.

His battle with Panomroonglek was reminiscent of another controversial bout when he won a split decision to capture his first world title against southpaw Juan Landaeta in 2006. In that fight Kameda was knocked down by the Venezuelan in the first round and, by most accounts, was dominated in the last two.

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