It took nine title fights, and ten more rugged rounds, to send Japan’s Kenshiro Teraji to the ranks of former beltholders.
It took three rounds for Teraji to remind everyone that anyone can have a bad night, especially in the aftermath of COVID. Saturday in Kyoto, Teraji brought the fight to his conqueror Masamichi Yabuki, stalking, feinting with the left, and setting up the most important right hand of his career.
Reign number two at Jr. flyweight begins for Teraji while Yabuki sees the end of a six-fight win streak.
Futures: It wouldn’t shock to eventually see a rubber match between Teraji and Yabuki. Each man has a knockout in the series. Whether it would happen sooner than later remains to be seen. It will be easy to write Yabuki off as a cut below Teraji and fortunate to catch one of the best in the world on the right day but Saturday was also evidence every fight is its own drama. If nothing else, Yabuki will be able to forge ahead as a former champion and that carries some weight.
Teraji is a fighter who it feels like could be more, and showed again this weekend what he can be at his best. The best case scenario for the Jr. flyweight division would be a unification showdown with WBA and Ring Magazine champion Hiroto Kyoguchi. Now that Teraji has the WBC belt back, their rankings could also line up for a fight within the year against former two-division champion Hekkie Budler. Only 30 years old, Teraji has time to make more waves and that could also include a move to flyweight at some point.
Teraji wasn’t the only little man to have a moment this weekend.
Edwards Retains, Eyes Unification
IBF flyweight titlist Sunny Edwards is unlikely to win many fights that leave fans salivating to go back and watch again. That’s not what matters. He gets to the winner’s circle and in what might have been the toughest test of his career besides his title win over Moruti Mthalane, Edwards won again with quick feet, awkward punching, and an eye to winning round by round.
Muhammad Waseem ultimately helped Edwards cause, losing two points in the fight for holding and then a headbutt, but the challenger battled gamely for much of the night. Edwards is a tricky guy to deal with and it’s going to take someone who can force him to stand and trade all night to get to him. There might be a fighter with a chance to do it.
Futures: Edwards wanted a unification clash with WBC flyweight titlist Julio Cesar Martinez before Martinez opted for a clash at Jr. bantamweight with Roman Gonzalez. Edwards still wants the showdown and it would be interesting. Martinez is relentless offensively but, as Gonzalez showed, his aggression can be used against him. Edwards can’t offer the offensive machinery Gonzalez did. Can Edwards replace it with guile and a strategy sure to frustrate Martinez or can the Mexican punch through Edwards style? They might not be the two best flyweights in the world but if they aren’t it’s only because Junto Nakatani also has a say. Let’s see the flyweight princes start working toward crowning a real king.
Blair Cobbs took a beating Saturday from Alexis Rocha but he’s the sort of personality that once thrived on outlets like ESPN Friday Night Fights and USA Tuesday Night Fights. Everyone doesn’t have to win every time out, or be an elite talent, to have a valuable place in boxing…Edgar Berlanga may end up fitting the same description. The hype around his knockout streak has been replaced by three straight unanimous decisions as his opposition has been edged upward. Berlanga doesn’t appear to be the destroyer his early first round finishes tried to present. Is there room to evolve into a complete fighter? He’s learning on the fly now…David Avanesyan and Jose Zepeda held serve at welterweight and Jr. welterweight, respectively, over the weekend. Neither match was tough as they wait for title chances. Avanesyan is close to a top slot in the WBC rankings while Zepeda is in position to face Jose Ramirez for a WBC belt if Josh Taylor vacates. Zepeda narrowly lost to Ramirez in their first contest.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.