The first men’s title unification bout of 2023 has a date and location.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that the Kenshiro ‘The Amazing Boy’ Teraji-Jonathan ‘Bomba’ Gonzalez lineal/WBC/WBA/WBO junior flyweight championship is set for April 8 in Tokyo, Japan. Teraji holds the lineal junior flyweight championship and WBC and WBA titles, while Puerto Rico’s Gonzalez will return to Japan WBO belt in tow for their unification bout which will air live on ESPN+ in the U.S.
Additional global TV rights along with key undercard bouts are expected to be revealed during a press conference which will take place Monday afternoon local time in Tokyo to formally announce the event.
The division has never boasted an undisputed champion dating back to its 1975 relaunch.
Both were faced with the threat of mandatory title defenses looming, though more so for Teraji (20-1, 12KOs) in the wake of his stunningly one-sided, seventh-round knockout of then-unbeaten countryman Hiroto Kyoguchi (16-1, 11KOs). Teraji made the first defense of his second WBC reign after he regained the belt last March and won the WBA title in their November 1 unification bout at Saitama (Japan) Super Arena.
The same show saw Gonzalez (27-3-1, 15KOs) defend his WBO belt for the second time following a twelve-round, unanimous decision victory over Tokyo’s Shokichi Iwata (9-1, 6KOs).
As previously reported by BoxingScene.com, Teraji-Gonzalez was already being explored immediately after the two shared the stage. However, Teraji was reminded of an awaiting mandatory title challenge obligation on November 9 during the annual WBC convention in Acapulco, Mexico. Former unified titlist Hekkie Budler (34-4, 10KOs) punched his way back into contention following a twelve-round, unanimous decision over former WBO titileholder Elwin Soto last June 25 on the road in Mexicali, Mexico.
Budler has since agreed to step aside, and will be in position to challenge the winner for three belts. Gonzalez is in the voluntary phase of his title reign.
The move allowed Teraji to now enter his second consecutive unification bout after regaining his WBC title in a third-round knockout of countryman Masamichi Yabuki on March 19 in Kyoto. The win avenged his lone career defeat, a tenth-round knockout to Yabuki in their Fight of the Year contender lastSeptember 22 also in Kyoto. The loss ended Teraji’s first reign, dating back to May 2017 and with eight successful title defenses. The 31-year-old from Kyoyo is now 11-1 with seven knockouts in twelve career title fights.
Gonzalez (27-3-1, 15KOs) made his most recent title defense on the Teraji-Kyoguchi undercard, where he outpointed previously unbeaten Shokichi Iwata (9-1, 6KOs) over twelve rounds. The win by the 31-year-old southpaw came more than a year after dethroning Soto via twelve-round, split decision on an October 2021 DAZN show in Fresno, California.
Wedged in between was his first defense and the closest thing to a home game. Gonzalez edged the Philippines’ Mark Anthony Barriga over twelve rounds atop a June 24 ProBox TV show in Boricua-friendly Kissimmee, Florida.
The upcoming bout with Teraji will mark the third career trip to Japan for Gonzalez. The first appearance on Japanese soil saw Gonzalez more than hold his own with then-unbeaten three-division and reigning WBO flyweight titlist Kosei Tanaka before suffering three knockdowns in the fateful seventh round of their August 2019 title fight. The valiant effort marked Gonzalez’s final flyweight fight, dropping back down to 108 where he has won five straight contests.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
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