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.
One of the most popular and familiar faces on the Japanese scene is the "Amazing Boy" Kenshiro (16-0, 9). The talented and skilled fighter, who has also been dubbed the "Smiling Assassin" and the "baby faced assassin" is one of the fighters who has managed to capture the attention of Japanese fans, and those who follow the Japanese scene.
Despite the growing attention for the youngster, there is a lot about him that fans may not know, so here are "10 facts you probably didn't know about...Ken Shiro"
1-Kenshiro, full name Kenshiro Terahi, was named after the Kenshiro character in "Fist of the North Star".
2-His cousin is boat racer Takahiro Korezawa
3-Originally Kenshiro wasn't interested in boxing, and was almost pushed into it due to bad school grades and his father, Hisashi Teraji who was a successful fighter himself in the 1990's, winning the Japanese Middleweight and OPBF Light Heavyweight titles.
4-As an amateur Kenshiro ran up a 58-16 (20) record, including 2 losses to Naoya Inoue one of which came by stoppage in the 63rd Inter Highschool Final's in August 2009!
5-Interestingly the 63rd Inter Highschool Final saw Rikki Naito win the tournament. Naito and Kenshiro hold a distinction together, as the only second generation fighters to have won OPBF and Japanese titles, following in the footsteps of their fathers who had done the same. Kenshiro's father Hisashi, as already mentioned, won the Japanese Middleweight and OPBF Light Heavyweight titles whilst Naito's father, Cassius Naito, won the Japanese and OPBF Middleweight titles. Kenshiro is however the first son of a former OPBF and Japanese champion to go all the way and win a world title.
6-Kenshiro is the first world champion from his father's BMB gym in Kyoto.
7-Despite having won the Japanese title from Kenichi Horikawa, ending Horikawa's reign, the two fighters have a very good relationship. Horikawa has been used as a sparring partner a number of times for Kenshiro, including in some media spars ahead of world title defenses. Kenshiro returned favour earlier this year when he publicly sparred with Horikawa after Ryuto Oho failed to make weight to face Horikawa in what had been scheduled as a Japanese title defense.
8-Kenshiro was supposed to defend the Japanese Light Flyweight title in the 2017 Champion Carnival against would be mandatory challenger Tetsuya Hisada. That bout, which was scheduled for April 2nd 2017, was scrapped when Kenshiro's team managed to secure a bout with WBC world champion Ganigan Lopez. Kenshiro went on to win that bout by majority decision. Around 4 and a half years after the scheduled Hisada Vs Kenshiro bout, Hisada would challenge for the WBA title against Hiroto Kyoguchi. Interestingly Hisada would still get a shot at the Japanese title in 2017, beating the previously mentioned Kenichi Horikawa for the belt in what was their third bout.
9-Unlike many fighters Kenshiro has actually shown no major rush to become a multi-weight champion, stating on multiple occasions that he'd rather break the Japanese record for most world title defenses of a single title instead. The male record currently stands at 13, held by Yoko Gushiken who held the WBA Light Flyweight title, and has only seriously been challenged a couple of times, most notably by Shinsuke Yamanaka who managed 12 defenses of the WBC Bantamweight title. At the time of writing he has notched 6 defenses of the WBC Light Flyweight title.
10-To end this we go full circle. Kenshiro's ring walk song has long been Crystal King's "Regain Love", which was also the theme song for first 82 episodes of the "Fist of the North Star" anime.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Over the last few years Japan has gained a reputation for ending the boxing year in style, with major shows in the final few days of the year. Typically those bouts get announced through November, as promoters officially announce the bouts and put their shows together along with major domestic television companies.
As we enter November we thought it would be fun to look at some of those rumours for the month, and some of the confirmed bouts, as well as those that have been mentioned as possible, and those on the verge of being officially announced.
We'll start by looking at what we know, with the confirmed notable bouts from the month.
December 1st is set to be a crazy day with several major shows.
In Tokyo we'll get a card televised by G+ which will be headlined by Valentine Hosokawa (23-6-3, 10) defending his Japanese Light Welterweight title against Takashi Inagaki (20-17-2, 9). The card will also feature a brilliant match up between Seiya Tsutsumi (4-0, 3) and Matcha Nakagawa (13-1-1, 5) as well as the ring return of former IBF Super Bantamweight champion Yukinori Oguni (19-2-1, 7)
On the same day in Osaka we get two Shinsei Gym cards, featuring a combined 6 title bouts. The shows will be Real Spirits vol 60 and Real Spirits vol 61, with the first card featuring 4 female title bouts, including a WBO female Minimumweight title bout between Kayoko Ebata (12-7, 6) and Etsuko Tada (17-3-2, 5) and an OPBF Atomweight title bout between Eri Matsuda (1-0) and Minayo Kei (6-3, 1).
The second card will see former world title challenger Reiya Konishi (16-1, 6) defending the WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight title against Richard Rosales (13-7-2, 7) and a potentially thrilling contest between Masao Nakamura (24-3, 23) and Carlo Magali (23-10-3, 12) for the WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight title.
December 3rd will give us a single big show, headlined by OPBF Featherweight champion Satoshi Shimizu (7-0, 7) and Takuya Uehara (16-0, 10), with a brilliant supporting bout between Hinata Maruta (7-1-1, 6) and Tsuyoshi Tameda (18-3-2, 16), which is one of the bouts we're most looking forward to!
On December 9th things get a bit crazy again. We will get a Japanese Welterweight title fight, as Ryota Yada (17-4, 14) defends his belt against Shusaku Fujinaka (16-9-2, 10), and a Japanese Super Flyweight title bout, with Takayuki Okumoto (21-8-3, 10) making his first defense against Masayoshi Hashizume (16-0-1, 10). These bouts have been officially announced and confirmed.
The same day we're set to see to see Shohei Omori (19-2, 14) taking on Takahiro Yamamoto (21-5, 17) and Sho Ishida (26-1, 15) taking on Warlito Parrenas (26-8-1, 23). These bouts haven't been formally announced, though teams from both have confirmed they are taking place, and will be at the EDION Arena Osaka. It's unclear if they will share the same card as the other bouts or if the EDION will host another double dose of boxing with two shows. There is also some speculation that if this is a second show there will be one more big bout to add to the card.
On December 13th we'll see Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (8-0, 6) defending his belt against Kazumasa Kobayashi (10-7-1, 6) at the Korakuen Hall and a week later we'll see Nobuyuki Shindo (20-4-1, 8) and Akinori Watanabe (37-7, 31) fight to unify the Japanese Light Middleweight title.
The only other show of real significant that has been confirmed is the Japanese Rookie of the Year final on December 23rd. Nothing after Christmas, but before the start of 2019, has really been announced. But we have had a lot of rumours, speculation for December!
One bout that is supposed to be, finally, made is the long awaited IBF Light Middleweight world title eliminator between Takeshi Inoue (13-0-1, 7) and Julian Williams (25-1-1-1, 15), a bout that has seemingly been delayed, rescheduled and redelayed several times already this year. Fingers crossed this is actually made before the year is over, as it seems both fighters have wasted a lot of this year waiting for this bout to take place. Interestingly this could be the only bout to actually take place outside of Japan.
Another IBF eliminator which is rumoured to take place in December is a Super Bantamweight title eliminator between Ryosuke Iwasa (25-3, 16) and Cesar Juarez (23-6, 17). This bout is supposedly set to take place in Tokyo, though no date has been made public. If this is confirmed then we are in for a treat as these two, together, should be an amazing contest, with both being heavy handed and flawed. Fingers crossed we get this one announced shortly!
Staying on the subject of IBF title fights there has been speculation in Japan that Masayuki Kuroda (30-7-3, 16) may get an unexpected shot at Flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane (36-2, 24). This rumour has come about after a scheduled eliminator with Kuroda and Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking fell through after the Thai suffered an injury. Kuroda's seemed to suggest this would be a long shot, but they are chasing the bout and it could, potentially, be on.
The first of the rumoured big cards to end the year is expected to be on December 30th and is expected to be the Fuji TV card. The strongest rumour for this show is a WBO Super Featherweight title defense for Masayuki Ito (24-1-1, 12), with the named linked to him being Evgeny Chuprakov (20-0, 10). This bout is expected to be confirmed in the coming days, or at the very least Ito's part of it is, with Chuprakov perhaps not being the opponent. The same date is also pencilled in as a potential date for Kenshiro (14-0, 8) to make his next defense of the WBC Light Flyweight title, though no opponent has been linked to him.
The December 30th Fuji card has also been set as the potential date for a WBC Bantamweight title bout between Petch Sor Chitpattana (48-0, 33) and Takuma Inoue (12-0, 3). This bout depends on another bout not taking place, as per an order at the WBC convention in early October, so we should see this bout being either confirmed or not very quickly. There is also a rumour that Takuma's stable mate at the Ohashi gym, Akira Yaegashi (27-6, 15) may also be involved on the same show.
If the rumours for December 30th are a bit of an exciting mess things get even crazier for New Year's Eve. For weeks we've been hearing that WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (51-0, 18) would be defending his title against Shin Ono (23-9-3, 6). This was rumoured to be part of a triple header, which has changed a few times but new seems most likely to feature a rematch between Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12) and Hekkie Budler (32-3, 10), with Taguchi looking to reclaim the WBA Light Flyweight title from the South African. Along with that rematch is rumoured WBO Light Flyweight title bout between Angel Acosta (19-1, 19) and Hiroto Kyoguchi (11-0, 8). If this triple header is done, then TBS would be expected to show at least 2 bouts live on their Kyoguken show.
Things get more complicated when we consider the other rumours, which include a potential WBO Flyweight world title defense by Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7). His could be squeezed on TBS as an early bout, or could be used to stack the show to a quadruple header or could end up being only CBC live, with TBS showing it on tape delay. It's really unclear how he fits in, but he will almost certainly be wanting to fight on a year ending show, after missing out on the chance last year due to injury.
Last, but certainly not least, is the rumoured WBO Super Flyweight title bout between Kazuto Ioka (23-1, 13) and Donnie Nietes (41-1-5, 23), a bout so big that TBS have seemingly given Ioka the option to take the date and broadcast if he wants it. This was rumoured strongly in September, and Japanese sources were suggesting that it could take place in the Philippines with TBS still airing it live, however the rumours did quieten quickly. It should be noted that Ioka's not been one for leaking news in the past, this could be well in the works. Given how silent things have gone however we may well see this bout being delayed into 2019, potentially as part of the next Superfly card.
(Bottom image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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).