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.
World Title Results
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