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.
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).