In the new year we will finally begin our countdown for the Top 10 Asian Fighters of the last decade. Before then however we want to bring our final honourable mention, Kenshiro Teraji, who has only fought as a professional for around half the decade, but has quickly left a mark on the sport during that time. He has raced to a world title, and has become one of the faces of Asian boxing whilst also becoming a focal point for the division that he fights in. In many ways he is the anti-Kosei Tanaka, who has gone through weights one aim, and has instead made it clear that he wants to make his name in his current weight class, before potentially moving up in weight.
As an amateur Kenshiro was a solid fighter, but not a spectacular one, running up a 58-16 (20) record. Since turning professional however he has gone from strength to strength and notched numerous notable wins since his debut in August 2014.
In his first 9 bouts Kenshiro hadn't made any sort of mark at world level, instead claiming the WBC Youth, JBC and OPBF titles. That took him to the start of 2017, where his most notable results were wins over Japanese veterans Kenichi Horikawa and Atushi Kakutani. Since 2017 however he has been a consistent fighter at world level, and notched a number of very good wins against top-10 type fighters.
Kenshiro would win the WBC Light Flyweight title in May 2017, taking a narrow decision over Ganigan Lopez. The narrow decision lead many to question whether he was world class, and those questions remained when he narrowly defeated Pedro Guevara in his first defense. Since then however Kenshiro has really come into his own, and looked like a fighter who has grown into being a world champion.
Since struggling in his first defense Kenshiro has really shined, stopping 5 of his 6 subsequent opponents, including a stoppage over Ganigan Lopez in rematch, Milan Meldino, Jonathan Taconing and Randy Petalcorin. Not only has he been stopping solid, world level opponents, but he's being doing so quickly, and only 2 of his last 6 bouts has gone past round 5.
Whilst Kenshiro does lack a career defining win, hasn't moved up in weight or unified, the he has gone 8-0 (5) in world title bouts, he has notched wins over Lopez, twice, Guevara, Melindo, Saul Juarez, Taconing and Petalcorin, and has stamped himself as one of the top Light Flyweights. Sadly he lack of that A tier win, and the fact he has only been fighting at world level since 2017 do prevent him from getting into the top 10.
By Marcus Bellinger (@marcusknockout)
It was another busy weekend of fight action as 3 of the continents best talents took to the ring and neither of them disappointed.
We begin at the Yokohama Arena where Naoya Inoue squared off against Juan Carlos Payano in the quarter-finals of the bantamweight World Boxing Super Series. Some had the opinion that Payano might go a few rounds but a single left right combination 70 seconds into the contest and the Dominican was laid out on the canvas giving Inoue his second first round win of 2018. It’s hard to know what other superlatives and adjectives that haven’t already been used to describe the 25-year-old, who continues to wreak havoc in the lower weights.
Unfortunately we won’t see Inoue again until 2019 where he will meet the winner of the bout between Emanuel Rodriguez and Jason Moloney in the semi-final but few would bet against the Japanese wrecking machine from picking up the WBSS trophy. The card was shown on Fuji TV in Japan, DAZN in the US and free on the WBSS platforms in other territories including the UK and generated a massive buzz online with Inoue amongst the top trends worldwide on twitter, showing how his stardom continues to increase.
The co-main event on this show saw WBC light flyweight titlist Kenshiro make the 4th defense of his belt against forma world champion Milan Melindo in what looked another stern examination for the home man. The first 2 rounds saw Kenshiro used his jab to great effect whilst Melindo had some success with the looping right hand. The champion began to up the pace in round 3 and his quick feet and darting in and out raids were causing the Filipino issues. Kenshiro poured on the pressure, reigning in right hands and body shots and a cut to the challenger only added to his woes.
Any further success Melindo did have was quickly snuffed out as Kenshiro toyed with his opponent and the contest was stopped in round 7 due to the cut with Melindo looking like an old fighter by the conclusion. Coupled with his wins over Ganigan Lopez, Pedro Guevara and going back to his victories over Katsunori Nagamine and Kenichi Horikawa, Kenshiro really has built himself a very strong resume and in most people’s eyes is the number 1 light flyweight in the world which is no mean feat given the insane strength in depth at 108 lb. A December 30th return looks likely and it would be great to see the 26-year-old being given a world title defense in Kyoto and there are numerous fabulous fights for him for the foreseeable future.
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai made the 3rd defense of his WBC super flyweight crown against Iran Diaz in Thailand. The bout headlined a One Championship card at the Impact Arena giving Srisaket major exposure at home. Not being a fan of MMA or never having viewed a One Championship show before, the whole event feel/crowd reaction was a real eye opener and nothing I’ve ever experienced before whilst watching boxing from Thailand.
With the atmosphere at fever pitch and the crowd almost baying for blood Srisaket flew out of the blocks in the opening stanza, ripping home crunching body shots and it looked like we could have a short fight on our hands. To his immense credit Diaz showed a superb chin and the ability to keep taking the numerous punches to the torso from the champion. The Thai got sloppy and neglected his defense and was lucky not to have 2 knockdowns awarded against him in rounds 8 and 9.
Having repeatedly hammered away at the body Srisaket tried to target the head in the last few rounds but he had to be content with a wide unanimous point’s verdict against the gritty Mexican challenger. It’s unclear what the next move of the hard hitting southpaw is but a rematch with Juan Francisco Estrada should happen sometime next year and there is also talk of a unification with IBF belt holder Jerwin Ancajas. It would also be great to see Srisaket fight in front of a raucous packed crowd at home once again as it could do wonders for future Thai boxers.
Finally we had an unexpected brawl at the hall as Masaru Sueyoshi and Hirinori Mishiro battled to a 12 round split draw with both the Japanese and OPBF super featherweight straps on the line. Given Sueyoshi’s awkward style and Mishiro’s preference to fight at range this had the potential to be a bit of a stinker but after Sueyoshi began brightly Mishiro turned the tables, forcing Sueyoshi into a toe-to-toe scrap leading to a fantastic contest which hopefully will take place again in early 2019. Rising flyweight youngster Junto Nakatani dominated Shun Kosaka over 8 rounds to book himself a shot at the Japanese title next year and he’s certainly someone to keep an eye on going forward.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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