Last year Japanese boxing got a major upset as Masamichi Yabuki (13-4, 12) [佐藤政道] dethroned Kenshiro Teraji (19-1, 11) [寺地 拳四朗], and claimed the WBC Light Flyweight title in one of the major Japanese upsets of the year. Soon after the bout Kenshiro's team put the loss down to some headclashes that Kenshiro had suffered in round 9, and issues with training for the bout, with his preparations being hampered by the fact he and his trainer had contracted covid.
Today we get the much anticipated rematch between the two men and we got a bout that was very, very different. In fact we got a Kenshiro that was very different, as he came in with a seek and destroy mentality, and it was clear that he had a point to prove, to the fans, to himself and for everyone who has followed his career.
The first round saw Kenshiro pressing the action behind his jab, and trying to put his gameplan of pressure, activity and keeping Yabuki on the back foot, in to effect. Yabuki had moments in the first round, but it was, for the most part Kenshiro's jab and occassional right hand that controlled the round whilst Yabuki was forced to back up, and try to create space to land his own shots.
Round 2 saw Kenshiro move things up a gear and really take the fight to Yabuki, landing numerous right hands up top, and some eye catching body blow as he began to bully Yabuki around the ring. To his credit Yabuki did find some success with counter shots, but they were few and far between, and when he did land them, they had no real effect against Kenshiro who took them in his stride.
With Yabuki knowing the fight wasn't going his way he came out for round 3 with a new gameplan. Trying to fight Yabuki off, and holding his feet. This was a tactic that was short lived, and within only a few moments Yabuki was back on the back foot, and unable to stop the forward march of the former champion, who found a home for some body shots that backed Yabuki on to the ropes, where he took more body shots. When he finally got off the ropes and created space he left himself open for a huge right hand, that dropped Yabuki. The defending champion got to his feet, but was in not fit state to continue, with the referee waving off the bout.
The performance was a clear statement from Kenshiro, who was desperate to show he was the strongest, the best in the division and that the loss was a freak result. Whilst the loss will hang over him, it's fair to say on this performance not many at 108lbs could live with him, and that he's certainly in the mix to be regarded as the best at 108lbs.
Earlier today in Kyoto boxing got a notable upset as long reigning WBC Light Flyweight kingpin Kenshiro Teraji (17-1, 10) [寺地 拳四朗] was dethroned in his 9th defense by fellow Japanese fighter Masamichi Yabuki (13-3, 12) [佐藤政道].
On paper the bout seemed like a routine defense for Kenshiro, who many including ourselves viewed as the best at 108lbs. It was however a bout that had a lot of substories going into it, including the fact that the bout had been delayed by 12 days after Kenshiro contracted Covid19 in August, pushing the bout from September 10th to September 22nd.
The view, by Kenshiro and his team, was that he would have long enough to recover, and although his preparation was clearly damaged by the illness, he was still expected to be good enough and prepared enough to over-come the heavy handed, but flawed, Yabuki.
As it turned out however, that was a huge mistake by the defending champion, who never quite looked his usual sharp, self.
The first round saw Kenshiro showing some of his quality, but Yabuki was the one showing the more intelligent boxing, landing good counters and hard straight right hands through the opening stages. Kenshiro on the other hand pressed and used his jab, but was pretty ineffective with his his pressure. After 4 rounds we got the open scoring and the judges were not impressed by the come forward style of the defending champion, who was shut out on two of the scorecards, and even on the third. It was not the start he needed and not the start he wanted.
Through the middle rounds Kenshiro managed to find some success, raising the tempo in round 6, and landing some good 1-2's, but couldn't really distinguish himself from Yabuki, who seemed to have an answer for almost anything the champion did. This was again shown on the scorecards after 8 rounds, with Yabuki up 79-73, 78-74 and 77-75. Essentially Kenshiro was going into the final 4 rounds knowing he needed something big. At the very least he needed to win all 4 rounds to retain his title.
The champion attempted to turn the tables in round 9 but was left cut around the right eye from a straight right hand of Yabuki's, putting the champion in even more trouble than he had been in before the round started. He knew it and he knew he had 3 rounds to turn things around, and gave everything he had in round 10, however he couldn't take out the challenge who turned the tables late in the round and hurt Kenshiro, before tagging him against the ropes until the referee stepped in and saved him.
Following the bout Kenshiro was taken to hospital. His father attended the press conference and while he didn't blame Kenshiro's battle with Covid, he did state his son's condition wasn't the best, and did suggest that maybe his son had run out of atamina before the finish. The plan now is for Kenshiro to take a break, and then it seems like he will make a decision on his future.
As for Yabuki, he seemed really proud of his his performance and beating Kenshiro, though notable didn't seem like he was in a rush to take on a rematch, though didn't flat out rule it out. Notably he seemed to suggest that, had he lost, he may have retired here, which would have been a huge disappointment.
Just moments ago fight fans in Japan had the chance to see WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro Teraji (18-0, 10) make his 8th successful defense, as he rugged defeated Japanese veteran Tetsuya Hisada (34-11-2, 20) in what was a very, very entertaining contest at the EDION Arena Osaka.
The opening round saw some interesting action, with Hisada being his usual, come forward self and Kenshiro looking to scout what the local favourite had to offer. It wasn't a particularly busy round, but was one that seemed to be very competitive. In round 2 we started to see the difference between the two men, with Hisada being all about will and effort, and Kenshiro being about skill, timing, and ring craft. The jab of Kenshiro's was beginning to slow, and he was starting to control the distance, whilst also hammering some huge right hands up top. One of those rights hands dropped Hisada, sending the challenger down for one of the very few times in his career.
Despite being dropped Hisada's will to win wasn't dented and he recovered well, fighting back hard at the end of the round and having a solid bounce back round in round 3, as he pressed more intently. That pressure did come at a cost, but it was a solid round after beind dropped. Sadly for Hisada he kept finding the same problems. When he had success Kenshiro came back and had more, every good eye catching flurry of Hisada's was followed by some eye catchign moments of Kenshiro's, and the jab of Kenshiro was giving him the ability to control the action as and when he needed.
After 4 rounds the open scoring kicked in for the first time, and the scores were 38-37, twice and 40-35, all in favour of Kenshiro
Through the middle rounds the action really intensified. Hisada was having more moments. He was gritting his teeth and making things tough for Kenshiro. He was winning the rounds, but he making Kenshiro work for them. What was particularly eye catching from Hisada was how often he managed to land right hands, putting Kenshiro on the back foot, albeit temporarily, and it would have been interesting to see how a younger, sharper, fighter would have capitalised on those moments. As for Hisada, he followed Kenshiro when they happened, before the champion regrouped and punished him.
Rounds 5 and 6 were genuinely fantastic with their back and forth action, however they both seemed to be rounds where Kenshiro's extra class and natural ability were the difference maker. His ability to turn the tide with a clean, accurate combination, or a burst of body shots, meant he always seemed in control, even with Hisada was having success. these rounds, along with rounds 7 and 8, were fought at mid range with a very high tempo and they made for some exhilarating action, with their back and forth. The action was exciting, the tempo was high and the quality was also great, particularly with Kenshiro's body shots.
Talking about body shots, they were particularly notable in the second half of the fight, with Kenshiro drilling Hisada's mid section with some massive right hands to the body. Hisada some how took them with out flinching, but they seemed to take the steam out of the challenger in rounds 9 and 10. He was still there, but the incessant pressure we have typically seen from him was only shown in glimpses. He was failing to turn the fight into his fight, he was struggling to land with any consistency, and he was unable to step the tide, which had seen Kenshiro in a very comfortable lead when the open scoring was announced early in round 9. For those curious the scores were 78-73, twice, and 79-72 all in favour of Kenshiro.
Despite looking like his 36 year old body was feeling the intensity through much of the middle portion of the fight Hisada really bit down on his gumshield and found some real reserves of energy in round 11 as he tried to take the fight to Kenshiro once again. Despite the effort he was again coming off second best, and seemed to be hurt late in the round from a body shot. Despite that Kenshiro didn't jump on his man, and Hisada sucked it up before being tagged by some solid right hands again from Kenshiro. It was really impressive stuff from both, with Kenshiro landing some really top level stuff and Hisada showing incredible toughness and will.
That will from Hisada came roaring out in round 12, in what may end up being the final round of Hisada's career. He set the pace, he dictated the tempo and he really refused to back down from a fight. Kenshiro continued to out class him, out skill him, and out box him, but there was no faulting Hisada's desire, as he walked through some massive right hands from the champion. Hisada's toughness saw him begin to force a brilliant sequence of trading in the final moments of the bout, but he couldn't hurt the champion who still remained so energetic right to the bell.
After 12 rounds the final scorecards were 119-108 and 118-109, twice, all in favour of the champion.
After having his arm raised Kenshiro broke into tears whilst being interviewed. It was clear the last 12 months or so have been hard on him mentally and it almost seemed like the win was a step towards redeeming himself. As for Hisada he left the ring to loud cheers and it was clear the fans were hugely supportive of his efforts. He had been the man they had cheered on through out the bout and it was obvious that they had been there to support the local man.
For Kenshiro this was a fine outing. He took a clear decision, over a hungry challenger, got 12 rounds after well over a year out of the ring, and managed to expunge some of the memories of 2020. He did however show some defensive flaws and it's clear he and his team will work on those when he's back in the gym.
As for Hisada, if this is the end he can hold his head up high. He gave a great performance, and whilst he was a very clear loser, the scores don't do his effort any justice, despite being fair scores. He's now 36, time is ticking on his career, but he has managed to achieve a lot more than many may have anticipated for a fighter with double digit losses and is clearly a hugely popular boxing son in Osaka.
Sadly the bout, which was a genuinely good, solid and exciting one, was also a nightmare for fans outside of Japan to watch. Cantere Doga, who streamed the bout, made things awfully difficult for fans to access the service, and it seemed like the bout would have made a lot, lot more sense for Shinsei to have streamed on YouTube. If KTV wanted to back the fight, which is fair to assume given they put it on Cantere Doga, then it would have made more sense to televise it than to stream it behind a paywall. For those who already use the Cantere Doga service this was a nice bonus, but for the other boxing fans out there this was a poor choice from the distributor of the bout.
It might take a long time for WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro Teraji (17-0, 1o) [拳四朗] to become a true star, but he's already got a growing cult following, and today he recorded his 7th defense of his world title, as he stopped Filipino challenger Randy Petalcorin (31-4-1, 23) in 4 rounds.
The first round saw little happen. The little that did happen was almost all from Kenshiro's jab as the two men took their time to figure each other out. The second saw the pace step up, with Petalcorin beginning to take risks, but he really had a couple of flash points of success, whilst Kenshiro found the round to land his jab quite regularly. It wasn't as clear cut as the opening round, but felt like the fight was finally starting.
Sadly for Petalcorin the success he had in round 2 didn't carry on into round 3, despite Petalcorin landing the right hook and neutralising Kenshiro's jab. That just meant Kenshiro had to bring another weapon out of his arsenal, and began to rely on his body shots. They were killer and he dropped Petalcorin 3 times in round 3 from body shots. Petalcorin's heart couldn't be questioned, but he clearly couldn't handle the blows to the mid section, and they do stay with a fighter.
Despite suffering a 10-6 round in round 3 Petalcorin came out for round 4 with ambition. It was as if he knew it was now or never. Petalcorin's aggression saw him forcing Kenshiro to back off at the start of the round. It wasn't long however until Kenshiro re-established distance, composed himself and went back to banging the drum. Another knockdown, again from body shots. This time Petalcorin didn't beat the count.
It's unclear what is next for the "Amazing boy" though it would seem likely that he would again pursue a world title unification bout, something that was supposed to happen today until a bout IBF champion Felix Alvarado fell through due to illness. As for Petalcorin it seems clear that he simply doesn't have it at world level, and after today's loss every opponent will target his mid-section.
For us the Light Flyweight division has been the best in the sport for the last few years. It's had great fighters passing through it, like Naoya Inoue and Kosei Tanaka, and right now has so much depth to it that we really could do a WBSS style tournament with 8 fighters and not have a clear weak link involved.
Today we saw one of the divisions' top stars showing what he can do, with unbeatenWBC champion Kenshiro (16-0, 9) [拳四朗] succesfully defending against mandatory challenger Jonathan Taconing (28-4-1, 22). Not only did Kenshiro retain his title, but he went he did so by stopping the feared Filipino puncher, who had never previously been stopped.
The champion, making his 6th defense, looked relaxed from the off, and showed his sharp punching, his movement and his ring craft straight away. He was able to find a home for his jab almost immediately and controlled the hard hitting challenger with his movement and straight and straight punching. As a thunder punching southpaw Taconing seemed to pose questions that Kenshiro hadn't yet seen, though it appeared that the Japanese fighter immediately solved every question Taconing could ask.
The Filipino showed ambition, came forward, and looked like he had some determination to make the most of his third world title fight, but was just made to look like a rather crude novice against the smooth, sharp and intelligent champion.
Having won the opening round Kenshiro was actually under a bit of pressure in round 2 as the challenger looked to turn things around. Taconing came out really aggressively for the round, but he was struggling to land and was being force fed clean shots by the champion who found a home for some classy blows, including an eye catching uppercut.
Although Taconing continued to be aggressive in round 3 Kenshiro began to move through the gears, landing more straight right hands, timing Taconing, and even holding his feet with the hard hitting challenger, who was becoming incredibly desperate and wild. That wildness lead to a clash of heads in round 3 that resulted in Taconing being cut on his forehead, in what was a genuine accidental clash. Despite it being an accident Kenshiro was deducted a point, as per the WBC's accidental foul rule, resulting in a 9-9 round.
The point deduction didn't play any part in the outcome of the bout however and in round 4 Kenshiro's accurate punching and fantastic timing gave us an early finish. Taconing was still firing off big, wild, reckless bombs, and about 40 seconds into the round he ate a huge counter right hand, then a left immediately afterwards. Taconing crashed face first to the canvas, and although he got to his feet he was glassy eyed and wobbly, forcing the referee to wave off the action and give the champion his latest win.
It's unclear what is next for the champion, though it is worth noting that WBA "super" champion Hiroto Kyoguchi was ringside for the bout, and the two men have spoken about unifying, leaving the mouth watering possibility that they will indeed clash in December, s has been rumoured for much of 2019.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Please note - This bout has not yet been shown on TV, there will be spoilers in the first paragraph below, and obviously the result will be given away in the article.
If you do not wish to know the result of the bout between Kenshiro and Saul Juarez, and instead wish to wait for the tape delay broadcast please stop reading.
Today fight fans at the Ota City General Gymnasium had a world title triple header, sadly however for those outside the venue one of the three bouts wasn't televised live anywhere. That bout was the WBC Light Flyweight title bout that pitted unbeaten champion Kenshiro (15-0, 8) [拳四朗] against Mexican challenger Saul Juarez (24-9-2, 13).
The bout saw Kenshiro coming into the contest seeking his 5th defense of the title, and completing an excellent year which had seen him stopping both Ganigan Lopez and Milan Melindo. Juarez on the other hand was looking to claim a world title for the Juarez family, with his brother having fought several times for world titles previously, losing notably in Japan in two of those world title bouts.
Fans in the venue saw the champion take his time in the first round, but he establish himself early in round 2, using his movement, sharp punching and significant size to pick away at Juarez. The skills and speed of Kenshiro saw him establishing the early lead, with scores of 40-36 on two cards and 39-37 on the other when the scores were announced publicly for the first time. The scores, the tempo, the distance was all being dictated by Kenshiro, who controlling everything being his accurate, sharp jab and movement. Not only was Kenshiro dominating but also left Juarez with reddening on the side of his face very early on.
The control over the bout that Kenshiro had extended through the middle rounds, with the champion holding a lead of 79-73, twice, and 80-72, after 8 rounds. He was proving to be too good in every way for the Mexican challenger, who was game but being out landed, out powered, out boxed and out sped. Although it was Kenshiro's jab that was controlling the action he showed enough variation to his shots to try and break through the Mexican's defense and take him out, though Juarez showed enough resolve to make Kenshiro think twice about taking too many risks,
Sadly for those expecting to see Kenshiro get his third stoppage of the year Juarez's toughness stopped it from happening, though Kenshiro continued to completely control the bout, taking the last 4 rounds on all 3 scorecards to wins 120-108 and 119-119, twice. By that point Juarez looked beaten, battered and exhausted, but still tough and game and credit needs to bee given to the Mexican for sticking in there in the final rounds.
Given the bout was "off TV" the performance won't have had his reputation for being in fun fights, because it seems that the fans in the venue were expecting a little bit more from the champion. For Kenshiro's development however 12 rounds here won't have been a bad thing, given he's only done 13 rounds in his last 3 bouts. He would have wanted a stoppage, but such a clear win, and test of his stamina, will do no harm as he looks to unify titles in the new year.
For Juarez it's his second loss in world title bouts, and his family's wait for a world title continues.
Earlier today the boxing world turned it's attention to Yokohama for the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS), which featured a notable non-WBSS title bout. That was the opening bout of the broadcast, and fans saw WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro (14-0, 8) [拳四朗] put together a career best performance as he picked apart Filipino challenger Milan Melindo (37-4, 13). Becoming the first man to stop the Pinoy veteran and cementing his place as one of Japan's top fighters, doing so in front of a global audience.
The opening couple of rounds were moderately competitive as the two men tried to figure out their range and timing whilst having the battle of jabs. The speed of Kenshiro seemed to be the difference, but Melindo certainly had moments, including landing some solid body jabs in the opening round and a good right hand in round 2. He was however out landed, out sped and out moved for much of the opening two rounds.
In round 3 Kenshiro began to up the pace, finding more space and landing his jab with ease, following it up with the occasional right hand as he began to really strengthen his control of the bout.
The champion moved up a gear in round 4 and really began to give the challenger a pounding, finding a home for his body shots, and using his feet to make Melindo clumsy whilst landing jabs, rights hands and and even the occasional left hook. It looked like Melindo was being chipped away at with Kenshiro just putting on the boosters. Melindo's suffering would worsen in round 5 as Kenshiro picked up the action, landing more and more frequently with the right hand. The shots weren't KO quality shots, but they were the stinging type of shots that do damage, and the damage was showing on Melindo's nose after round 5.
Melindo's face became more damaged in round 6 as Kenshiro began to put more and more combinations together and really unloaded on to the head and body of Melindo, who had no answer at all. The shots left Melindo cut around the left eye and with a clear mouse under the right eye, worsening his fortunes. The Filipino looked like a mentally defeated man, and every moment of success he had was neutralised instantly with Kenshiro hurting him in return.
It looked like the champion really wanted to become the first man to stop Melindo as we entered round 7. Melindo began to back up more and give Kenshiro the chance too catch him on the ropes, which he did in eye catching and spectacular fashion, wobbling the Filipino several times before the action was halted. The cut on Melindo's eye had worsened and the referee took him over to the doctor who stopped the bout, saving Melindo from further punishment.
With this win Kenshiro has now recorded 4 defenses of the title, with the last 3 coming by stoppage. With wins over Ganigan Lopez, Pedro Guevara and now Melindo he has a solid claim to being the #1 man at 108lbs.
For Melindo the beating was a bad one. It may not send him into retirement, but probably shows he's got too many miles on the clock to become a 2-time champion.
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.