The current leader at junior flyweight is moving into some special conversations. 

Since its inception in the 1970s, the ranks of junior flyweight champions have included several impressive Hall of Fame talents. Hilario Zapata, Jung Koo Chang, Myung-Wuh Yuh, Michael Carbajal, and Chiquita Gonzalez all earned their place among the greats. Roman Gonzalez had a sojourn in the class and will join them. 

Kenshiro Teraji is making his case among their fraternity. After suffering a shocking loss in 2021 to Masamichi Yabuki, Kenshiro reversed the outcome in his next fight and then capped 2022 with a career-best unification win over Hiroto Kyoguchi. Before he can pursue the rest of the belts in the division, he will face one of the most consistent names in the title ranks below flyweight over the last decade. 

Hekkie Budler has been a titlist at 105 pounds and a Ring Magazine and unified titlist at 108. Since a lone stoppage loss to Kyoguchi in 2018, Budler has won three straight including a career-saving decision over former titlist Elwin Soto. This could be his last big shot, a clash of two of the lower weight stalwarts of their generation.

Will Kenshiro continue his quest for undisputed or can Budler spring another big road surprise in line with his upset of Ryoichi Taguchi? We’ll find out Monday morning (ESPN+, 5 AM EST).    

Let’s get into it. 

Stats and Stakes

Kenshiro Teraji

Age: 31

Title: Lineal/TBRB/Ring Magazine World Jr. Flyweight (2022-Present, 1 Defense); WBC light flyweight (2022-Present, 2 Defenses); WBA light flyweight (2022-Present, 1 Defense)

Previous Titles: WBC light flyweight (2017-21, 8 Defenses)

Height: 5’5  

Weight: 107 ¼ lbs. 

Stance: Orthodox

Hails from: Uji, Kyoto, Japan

Record: 21-1, 13 KO, 1 KOBY

Record in Major Title Fights: 12-1, 8 KO, 1 KOBY

Last Five Opponents: 80-16-2 (.827)

Notable Outcomes, TBRB/Ring Rated Foes: Ganigan Lopez MD12, KO2; Pedro Guevara MD12; Milan Melindo TKO7; Tetsuya Hisada UD12; Masamichi Yabuki TKO by 10, KO3; Hiroto Kyoguchi TKO7  

Additional Results, Current/Former Champions/Titlists Faced: None


Hekkie Budler 

Age: 35

Title: None

Previous Titles: WBA minimumweight (2013-16, 5 Defenses); Ring/WBA/IBF Light Flyweight (2018)

Height: 5’3   

Weight: 107 ½ lbs.

Stance: Orthodox

Hails from: Johannesburg, South Africa

Record: 35-4, 11 KO 1 KOBY

Press Rankings: #2 (Ring), #3 (TBRB), #4 (ESPN) #7 (BoxRec)

Record in Major Title Fights: 6-3, 2 KO, 1 KOBY (7-3, 3 KO, 1 KOBY including interim title bouts)

Last Five Opponents: 78-18-5 (.797)

Notable Outcomes, TBRB and/or Ring Rated Foes: Juantito Rubillar MD12; Florante Condes UD12;  Nkosinathi Joyi SD12; Xiong Zhao Zhong UD12; Simphiwe Khonco UD12; Byron Rojas L12;  Milan Melindo L12; Ryoichi Taguchi UD12; Hiroto Kyoguchi TKO by 10; Elwin Soto UD12

Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: None

The Pick: Budler has remained a titlist or contender for more than a decade with craft and ring intelligence. He’s an effective counter puncher with good timing and anticipation, able to work off the back foot or in close quarters when called on. He’s not the fastest man at his weights but he’s got long arms that allow him to erase some of that deficit. 

They won’t be long enough on Monday. The speed difference between Budler and Kenshiro appears dramatic on tape. Kenshiro is also the taller man with a sharp edge in power. Even if Budler can get Kenshiro to come forward into his counters, the champion’s ability to counter off anything Budler lands should mean mounting punishment as the rounds go by. Budler is clever enough to extend the fight some rounds but he’s unlikely to halt Kenshiro’s three-fight knockout streak. The pic is Kenshiro via stoppage sometimes around or after the eighth round.  

Additional Monday Pick

Junto Nakatani Dec. Argi Cortes          

Rold Picks 2023: 27-7

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.  He can be reached at