This past weekend we had the chance to see WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro Teraji (18-0, 10) [寺地 拳四朗] retain his title as he defeated Tetsuya Hisada (34-11-2, 20) [久田 哲也] by a wide unanimous decision. The bout wasn't a FOTY contender, or anything like that, but it was one with plenty to talk about, and was one we had, legitimately, waited 4 years to see! With that in mind let's share what we took away from the clash, and the broadcast of it.
1-The broadcast shouldn't have been so hard to watch
We'll start with the obvious one here. The fight was only made available via Cantere Doga, a subscription streaming service in Japan, available only in Japan, that's run by Kansai TV (KTV), with "Cantere" being a bit of a portmanteau of "Kansai" and "Telly". That was the ONLY way to watch the bout.
When you consider that Kenshiro has a growing international fanbase, and Japanese boxing as a whole has an audience outside of Japan, this decision is among the stupidest we've seen this year. Especially as it was essentially shown for free to all Cantere Doga subscribers, with the minimum cost being 300yen (about $3 or £2.50). The bout should, really, have been on available internationally, without the use of technological work arounds, VPN's and other spoofing tricks. The smart move for KTV and for Shinsei Promotions, who promoted the show, would have been an international feed on YouTube, via Boxing Real or KTV themselves, which would have been geo-locked, locking out a domestic audience, who could pay to watch.
The way the bout was broadcast was a big, big mistake, and hopefully one we'll not see repeated in the future.
2-Kenshiro looked really sharp
Coming in to this bout we hadn't seen Kenshiro in the ring since late 2019, when he beat Randy Petalcorin. That was 16 months out of the ring, the longest of his career by far. Despite the long lay off he looked sharp through much of the bout. His footwork was on point, allowing him to get in and out, and dictate the range and tempo for much of the contest, his jab was as brilliant as ever, his combinations were brilliant, he was scary accurate, and his straight right hand was crisp and clean. He really didn't look like a man with a long lay off, or like a man who had been in trouble outside of the ring.
The right hand Kenshiro dropped Hisada with in round 2 was an absolute beauty and it seemed at times that he was going to stop Hisada, something that has only ever happened when Hisada has fought at Super Flyweight. We'll get on to why a stoppage didn't happen in a few moments.
The only real issues with Kenshiro's performance were some defense lapses, where he was caught with some solid right hands, and he seemed to lose some spring in legs late in the bout, with the lack of activity likely playing a factor on his stamina more than anything else. It really was an excellent performance by the champion.
3-Hisada is stupidly tough
There are some undeniable facts when it comes to Tetsuya Hisada, one is that he's popular in Osaka, one is that he's aged like fine wine and one is that he is as tough as they come. The 36 year old has only been stopped once in 37 bouts, and that came in 2012 at Super Flyweight against 4-time world title challenger Hiroyuki Kudaka. Here he showed how incredibly tough he was once again. He was dropped from a clean right hand in round 2 and and hurt numerous times through the bout, but never really came close to being stopped. He showed a really impressive will to win, and a steadfast determination that really did show that he wasn't happy to just be on the big stage.
Sadly for Hisada his toughness wasn't enough to cope with the skills of Kenshiro, but no one can fault his effort and we really hope this isn't the end for him.
Also it needs to be noted that despite having 11 losses to his name, Hisada is very much a world class fighter, and shouldn't be written off for having double digit losses. Revisionist history will suggest he was a "weak" challenger, but he showed that records really aren't the be all and end all.
4-The audience was massively pro-Hisada
One of the most telling things through out the bout was the strong, strong crowd support for Tetsuya Hisada. In all honesty this shouldn't have been much of a shock, given he was the local fighter in Osaka, but it was still weird just how silent fans were to Kenshiro's entrance, giving him a very polite and subdued clap when he got in the ring. The crowd also applauded Hisada pretty much any time he landed anything, whilst a lot of Kenshiro's work was met by relative silence. Despite both men being Japanese it was clear who brought the crowd to the venue, and who they wanted to see win. There was a scattering of Kenshiro fans, but they were very clearly out numbered by Hisada fans who went wild every time he landed anything of note.
The fans were also very appreciative of Hisada as he walked back to his changing room after the fight.
It should be noted that the fans were also very pro-Hisada when he fought Hiroto Kyoguchi, and it shows Hisada's local appeal, even against higher profile fighters than himself. Win or lose, and he has lost plenty, he has become a local boxing hero in Osaka.
5-Yuji Fukuchi had an easy job
When we talk about Japanese referees there are a few that stand out, and one of those is veteran referee Yuji Fukuchi. With more than 2 decades experience of refereeing at the top level Fukuchi knows what his job is, he knows how to do his job, but here he really wasn't really needed. The bout was a very cleanly fought one, and barring the knockdown there wasn't much else for him to be involved in. A few clinches to break up, a minor headclash in round 6, and very, very little else. This would be one of the easiest world title fights he's ever been the third man for.
Despite being an easy assignment Fukuchi never took his eye off the ball. His positioning was fantastic through the bout, he let them fight without getting in the way and he was focused on letting the fighters fight, something they were happy to do.
In fairness it wasn't just Fukuchi who had an easy job but also the judges, and the cards, of 119-108 and 118-109, really were the only two ways this could have been scored. Despite a very spirited and valiant effort from Hisada.
Did you know - The song Kenshiro entered to was "Ai o Torimodose!!", which is also known as "YOU wa SHOCK", and was the theme song for anime "Fist of the North Star", which focuses on a warrior names Kenshiro! We've included the full version of that song below.
Just over a week ago we had a card in Tokyo headlined by Shuichiro Yoshino, who retained his OPBF, WBO Asia Pacific and JBC Lightweight titles. On the same was an exhibition featuring WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro Teraji (17-0, 10). With "The Amazing Boy" still having no bout scheduled we thought this was an ideal time to look at some potential opponents for Teraji, and give him the "Five For" Treatment.
Although travel restrictions regarding travel to Japan are expected to be loosened in the near future we have tried to make these selections viable from a travel perspective. Sadly this rules out fighters from South Africa, the US, Mexico, the Philippines and Indonesia. As a result we have limited this list to Japan, where internal travel restrictions aren't an issue, and Thailand, where we know the current situation is somewhat under control and a viable country to get visiting fighters from.
As WBA champion Hiroto Kyoguchi has his next bout arranged, and without full venues, he's not been considered as a potential opponent here.
1-Tetsuya Hisada (34-10-2, 20)
The most interesting potential bout for Kenshiro, by far, would be a defense against Japanese veteran Tetsuya Hisada. This bout has several interesting sub stories. Firstly it would give us a way to compare Kenshiro to Hiroto Kyoguchi, who beat Hisada in a competitive bout last year. Secondly it would see us getting a bout we were supposed to get years ago, when Hisada was the mandatory challenger to Kenshiro when he was the Japanese champion. And thirdly it would also see the champion taking on the man the WBC rank as the #1 contender. With Hisada turning 36 in October and opportunities being very limited for him this would be a great option, and a potentially very interesting match up for the champion.
2-Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart (11-1, 5)
Hisada isn't the only former Hiroto Kyoguchi that we would like to see challenge Kenshiro. Another former Kyoguchi opponent that we'd like to see Kenshiro share the ring with is Thailand's Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart. This would be a very interesting match up against a challenger in his prime who showed skills and toughness against Kyoguchi despite losing a clear decision. It's a shame we've not see Satanmuanglek in a boxing ring since his loss to Kyoguchi, but he has remained active and has fought in a few kick boxing bouts since then. He's a talented, hungry and tough challenger, who would ask questions of Kenshiro, and again allow comparisons to Kyoguchi.
3-Masamichi Yabuki (11-3, 11)
Going back to Japan a bout between Kenshiro and Japanese national champion Masamichi Yabuki would be a well received domestic show down, even if it wouldn't generate much international buzz. The hard hitting Yabuki has looked incredibly since dropping down in weight, last year, and has dismantled domestic youngsters Rikito Shiba and Tsuyoshi Sato. At 28 years old and riding a 4 fight stoppage run Yabuki has got momentum behind him, but a bout with the WBC champion would be a massive step up in class. This is probably the easiest bout to make, given Yabuki has spoke about fighting for a world title, but also one of the ones that wouldn't create any attention outside of Japan, sadly.
4-Panya Pradabsri (33-1, 21)
The bout we actually want the most from this short list is Panya Pradabsri, a talented 29 year old Thai, who may well be the toughest opponent on the list. The talented Thai is a solid boxer-puncher with decent power, nice aggression and under-rated speed and skills. Sadly he has been wasting his time, and he will continue to do so later this month in another stay busy fight, but he is a very solid fighter who has scored plenty of solid regional wins during his career. We see him potentially posing the most problems for Kenshiro and having the tools to question the champion. Sadly though he is busy with a bout on September 25th, hasn't travelled since controversially losing to Xiong Zhao Zhong in 2017, and looks to be unsure if he really wants to continue at Light Flyweight, with his next bout being at 105lbs.
5-Tsubasa Koura (15-1, 10)
A wild card suggestion for number 5, but an option we really like, would be a bout between Kenshiro and once beaten fighter Tsubasa Koura, who would have to move up in weight for the but we don't see that being much of an issue. For Kenshiro this would be regarded as an easier defense, against a smaller, less experienced man who was stopped just 2 fights ago, but it would be a very easy to make bout. For Kenshiro this would scratch an itch, keep him busy and get him some ring rime, whilst Koura would get a world title fight, and a chance to get his career back on track after a frustrating year or two. In the ring this would be a pretty interesting for a few rounds, before Kenshiro finds his groove and puts his foot on the gas. If Kenshiro wants an easy defense, after having been out of the ring since December, this one makes a lot of sense.
With no fights currently taking place we've had a bit of time on our hands, and with that in mind we've decided to look at the sport in terms of how divisions sit, and do something that had previously been requested. The Asian divisional top 10's. We'll be starting this at Minimumweight and working our way through the divisions over the coming days and weeks. We know there will be some debate about some rankings and there is certainly some area for discussion, and that is certainly not a bad thing at all!
Today we take a look at the Light Flyweight division, which is a rather interesting weight class right now. The 108lb weight class is, potentially, the best in the sport on a global basis, and would make for a fantastic tournament with the top guys from around the bout. We see some of the best fighters in the division in Asia however the drop off in the division is start between the best, and the best of the rest.
1-Kenshiro Teraji (17-0, 10)
There will be debate between the #1 and #2 in the division, however for us the pick is rather easy based on achievement and competition at the weight class. Kenshiro Teraji has been the WBC champion since May 2017 and has scored 7 defenses, some of which have come against fighters lower down this list. The talented boxer-mover has looked near untouchable at times and beaten the likes of Ganigan Lopez, Pedro Guevara, Milan Melindo and Jonathan Taconing. An excellent technical boxer Kenshiro has made so many improvements since winning the title that he hardly seems the same fighter that he was 3 years ago. A real revelation at the top of the division.
2-Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9)
Whilst we have Kenshiro at #1 we know some would suggest fellow Japanese fighter Hiroto Kyoguchi, the Ring Magazine champion, should be top. Whilst he's the Linear champion his reign at 108lbs has yet to match that of his countryman. He won the WBA "Super" and Ring magazine titles in December 2018, when he stopped Hekkie Budler in a great win, but wins against Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart and Tetsuya Hisada were both tougher than expected for the Watanabe Gym fighter. Kyoguchi is certainly ahead of the rest of the field, but so far he's shown less versatility at Light Flyweight and doesn't look as dangerous as he did at Minimumweight. Still a top fighter however and he's going to be very hard to dethrone.
3-Reiya Konishi (17-2, 7)
The drop off between the top 2 and the rest really is massive and even then the argument for #3 is a really close one. We've gone with 2-time world title challenger Reiya Konishi at number 3, though could see 3 or 4 fighters all having a fair claim to the position. Konishi has only lost at world level against ultra-dangerous fighters, Carlos Canizales and Felix Alvarado, and holds wins against decent fighters like Masataka Taniguchi, Shin Ono and Orlie Silvestre. A little warrior Konishi has a great work rate but lacks single punch power and makes life very difficult for himself time and time again. A legitimate top 15 globally, he's a man who had proven he's on the bubble of world class, but hasn't yet scored the big win. Saying that however he gave Carlos Canizales a very tough bout back in 2018.
4-Petchmanee Kokietgym (32-1, 21)
Thailand's Petchmanee Kokietgym, also known as Panya Pradabsri among other names, is perhaps the divisions least well known contender. The 29 year old Thai was unlucky in his sole defeat, a loss in China to Xiong Zhao Zhong, and has bounced around between Light Flyweight and Flyweight since then. Despite having over 30 wins to his name his competition is rather mixed, and is certainly not the best out there. When he has stepped up to fringe regional level however he has impressed, stopping the likes of Jerry Tomogdan, Robert Onggocan and Dexter Alimento. Very much a fighter who is just a win or two away from making a mark, and at 29 he does have a bit of time to go out and make a statement before a world title bout.
5-Edward Heno (14-1-5, 5)
Former OPBF champion Edward Heno has impressed multiple times, with wins against the likes of Seita Ogido, Merlito Sabillo, Jesse Espinas and Koji Itagaki. He also impressed last year in his loss to Elwin Soto, in what was a very competitive bout against the dangerous Mexican. Aged 27 the Filipino southpaw is pretty much in his physical prime and the loss to Soto do more good than harm, instilling a confidence in Heno that he belongs at world level. Before the current global situation he was supposed to fight in March against Francis Jay Diaz, and that would be a big test of his mentality after the Soto bout. Arguably the most skilled of the contenders he has a bright future, if he can get up for the lower level tick over fights until landing another big one.
6-Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart (11-1, 5)
Another Thai with an under-rated standing in the sport is 27 year old Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart, aka Tanawat Nakoon. The talented Thai had done little in boxing before landing a fight with Hiroto Kyoguchi last year and giving the Japanese fighter some trouble over 12 rounds. The bout was a clear one for Kyoguchi on the cards but Satanmuanglek proved he was on the fringes of world class and that he was tough, skilled, smart and promising. Since that loss he has had some Muay Thai action, though hopefully we see him back boxing in 2020. He has the ability to be well and truly in the mix though needs to face more opponents like Marco John Rementizo and few like Crison Omayao, if he's to develop and progress the way he should.
7-Jonathan Taconing (28-4-1, 22)
Just a year ago Johnathan Taconing would have come much higher up this list but the 33 year old Filipino southpaw is very much a fighter on the way out. The heavy handed puncher was always regarded as a dangerman in the division, and one of the most brutal punchers in the weight class. He matched that power with an iron jaw and will to win. Sadly though a KO loss last year to Kenshiro has seen the jaw now left with question marks and at 33 time is not on his side. He's likely to be too good for those at regional level but going 0-3 in world title bouts is a telling stat, and we don't imagine we'll see him picking up a world title before he hangs them up.
8-Thanongsak Simsri (14-0, 12)
Exciting Thai teenage Thanongsak Simsri is one of the division's most promising and exciting hopefuls. He's only 19 but is a heavy handed boxer-puncher who is show real potential, and is getting international experience with bouts not just in Thailand but also Japan. Whilst his competition hasn't been the toughest so far he has impressed with wins against Ricardo Sueno, Lerdchai Chaiyawed and Christian Bacolod already. In 2019 he fought 8 times and the intention was to move him into regional title bouts this year. We might see that happen, but given how the year has been so far any plans for the youngster have been put on hold. For now.
9-Randy Petalcorin (31-4-1, 23)
Another Filipino worthy of note in the division is former world title challenger Randy Petalcorin. He's a long way from the top fighters in the division, but is certainly on the fringes of world class. Last time out he fought Kenshiro Teraji, as a late replacement for Felix Alvarado, and was stopped in 4 rounds by the WBC champion. At 28 years old the talented southpaw has time to bounce back, but unfortunately for him there is a lot of young and emerging talent coming through the division. We mentioned Simsri a moment ago and there are others looking to over-take Petalcorin in regards to his standing in the division.
10-Tibo Monabesa (20-1-2, 8)
Indonesian fighter Tibo Monabesa found that he wasn't ready for the top when he lost to Hiroto Kyoguchi, but the 29 year old has distinguished himself from those outside of the top 10 wins a number of notable victories. In his 23 fight career he has already defeated Rene Patilano, Lester Abutan, Lito Dante, Samartlek Kokietgym and Omari Kimweri. Before the world changed he was pencilled in to face Toto Landero in March, and a win there would have boosted his career to being a legitimate fringe contender. He's on a good run since being beaten by Kyoguchi and the hope is that he will get a world title fight in the coming future.
On the bubble:
Masamichi Yabuki, Daiki Tomita, Christian Bacolod, Kenichi Horikawa and Christian Araneta.
Notes - Tetsuya Hisada has stated his intention is to move up to Flyweight in the future, so wasn't considered here. Yuto Takahashi has announced his retirement from the sport
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).