On December 23rd baby faced fighter Kenshiro Teraji (17-0, 10) notched his 7th defense of the WBC Light Flyweight title, stopping Randy Petalcorin in 4 rounds, following 4 knockdowns. With that win fresh in the memory we've decided to do an extra "Five for..." this week and look at some potential bouts we could see Kenshiro in in 2020. We already know that the Japanese world champion is wanting to not only fight 3 times next year, but also unify and fight overseas. With that in mind we've tried to find bouts that fulfil those criteria here.
1-Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9)
An obvious number #1 choice here is a bout between Kenshiro and fellow Japanese world champion Hiroto Kyoguchi, the current WBA "super" champion. This is a bout that both men spoke about more than a year ago, and it really is time the two sat down and tried to make it happen. It's known that the two men are friends, they get on, but they also have a rivalry from their days as amateurs and what better time than to face off this Spring? The loser certainly may see their shine vanish, along with their title and unbeaten record, but with both men being in their mid 20's their careers certainly wouldn't be over. Instead the winner would go into the rest of the year as a big star, and the loser, would remain in the mix and be hunting another major bout later in the year.
2-Elwin Soto (16-1, 11)
In 2019 Mexican puncher Elwin Soto became one of the sports break out fighters for the lower weights, and his two world title bouts both took place in the US, as he won and defended the WBO world title. His world title would see Kenshiro get the much desired unification bout, and with Soto's growing reputation Stateside he could also get his over-seas bout here. The fight would also have a serious sense of danger, with Soto being a monstrous puncher, meaning the Japanese fighter would have to be at his best, defensively, and this is likely to get the very best performance from Kenshiro. As for Soto this would be a huge fight, and allow him a chance to unify titles just a year after winning his first, from Angel Acosta.
3-Felix Alvarado (35-2, 30)
A bout that was arranged, and was supposed to take place earlier this month, was for Kenshiro to take on IBF champion Felix Alvarado in Yokohama, to unify the WBC and IBF titles. Sadly that bout fell through when Alvarado fell ill, and Petalcorin ended up becoming Kenshiro's December opponent as a result. Now as we head into 2020 the bout can be re-arranged, if and when Alvarado is fit and healthy again. On paper this is a mouth watering match up pitting one of the best pure boxers in the division, Kenshiro, against one of the most brutish punchers in the division. This is a brilliant clash of styles and would be a meeting of two legitimate world class talents. Being totally honest the fact this bout fell through originally was one of the biggest disappointments of the year, and fingers crossed this now gets made at some point in 2020.
4-Deejay Kriel (16-1-1, 8)
South African fighter Deejay Kriel has had a strange 2019, winning the IBF Minimumweight title early in the year before vacating and moving up before managing a single defense. He's now fought in the US and in Mexico, and it's unclear where his future lies going forward. Regardless of what he's got coming up it seems clear that he's now a Light Flyweight contender, and is a former world champion at Minimumweight, meaning he'd be a perfect possible opponent for Kenshiro, and give him a chance to shine to a new, South African, audience. Kriel doesn't appear to have much of a financial backing, so a good offer will lure him over to Japan
5-Jing Xiang (17-4-2, 3)
Another potential fight on the road could see Kenshiro head over to China to take on Chinese contender Jing Xiang, who has shown he's able to fight at either Minimumweight or Light Flyweight. The Chinese boxing scene has been growing notably over the last few years and Xiang is one of the nation's biggest hopes, with wins over former world champions like Merlito Sabillo and Kompayak Porpramook in recent years. If Kenshiro wants to get out of Japan, then China is a decent option, and Xiang is an excellent fighter to look good against. We like this bout a lot and although it would be seen as a "safe" fight for Kenshiro it would also be bout between two excellent boxers.
We began December with John Riel Casimero being the toast of Filipino boxing after he beat Zolani Tete to become a 3-weight world champion. The Filipino star is currently being linked to a 2020 showdown with Japanese super star Naoya Inoue in what would make for a great bout for Inoue's Top Rank debut, in front of an audience who perhaps aren't as familiar with the Super Flyweight division as they should be. With Casimero's recent win it only made sense to feature him in our latest Six Degrees of Separation, and today we take you on a journey from Casimero, to WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro Teraji.
1-Filipino power puncher John Riel Casimero has made his name as a road warrior, picking up wins in countries as far apart as the UK and Nicaragua and from the US to China. Another of the sports true road warriors was Alicia Ashley, a female fighter from Jamaica who truly fought all over the globe in her 37 fight career.
2-Although not too well known by boxing in general Alicia Ashley was a fantastic fighter who who travelled the globe for fights, and she fought as far and wise China, Germany, Austria and North Korea.
3-Boxing doesn't have many North Korean fighters. It never has. Despite the poverty of the country the sport hasn't been seen a way out due to the countries political strangle hold and ideology. There has however been a handful of notable fighters who can have their roots traced back to Pyongyang, including Hyun Mi Choi.
4-Choi, who was born in Pyongyang though fled North Korea as a youngster alongside her family, has been a bit of a boxing peculiarity. Not only was she a North Korean born fighter who won a world title, but she also won a world title on her debut, winning the WBA female Featherweight title in her 2008 debut. In her 4th defense of that title, against Sandy Tsagouris, the referee was Biney Martin.
5-Although now a well established referee in Japan before that Martin was a professional fighter himself, a fairly solid one who left a decent mark on the Japanese domestic scene. In 1993 and 1994 Biney Martin would twice face off with, and lose to, Hisashi Teraji, the then Japanese Middleweight champion.
6-Before the fights with Martin Japan's Hisashi Teraji would have a baby boy, born on January 6th 1992. That boy was Kenshiro Teraji.
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).