There hasn’t been a lineal Jr. flyweight champion since Giovanni Segura vacated the crown in 2011. Barring a draw, someone is going to change that on Tuesday in Saitama, Japan (ESPN+, 4:30 AM EST).
A near-consensus 1-2 match in any division is always welcome. This one comes in a weight class where we’ve seen magic happen in fights this big. The first Michael Carbajal-Chiquita Gonzalez and Ivan Calderon-Giovanni Segura epics did it with men trying to unify pieces of their division.
To say this one is years in the making isn’t hype. The rivalry between Teraji and Kyoguchi goes back to their days as amateurs. According to Anson Wainwright at The Ring, Teraji held a 3-1 edge in those unpaid encounters. A lot can change between the amateurs and professionals and there’s a difference between three round sprints and twelve-round grinds.
Teraji was considered the class of the division by many with a lengthy, high quality title reign before a stunning stoppage loss in 2021 to fringe contender Masamichi Yabuki. Teraji shook it off in style, avenging the loss in three rounds in March. He’s wasting no time trying to avoid another loss. Teraji is going straight at the biggest fight in the division.
Kyoguchi has been waiting. A two-division titlist by his twelfth fight, Kyoguchi looked sharp and devastating in handing Esteban Bermudez only his second stoppage loss. Bermudez was coming off a big knockout of undefeated Carlos Canizales. Kyoguchi also handed champion Hekkie Budler his only stoppage loss for his title at Jr. flyweight.
This is as good as unification fights get with both men having defeated multiple top ten contenders to clear the way toward each other. If it’s not a Fight of the Year candidate by the end, it would be a bit of a surprise.
Let’s get into it.
Stats and Stakes
Title: WBC light flyweight (2022-Present, 1st Defense)
Previous Titles: WBC light flyweight (2017-21, 8 Defenses)
Weight: 107 ¼ lbs.
Hails from: Uji, Kyoto, Japan
Record: 19-1, 11 KO, 1 KOBY
Press Rankings: #1 (TBRB, Ring, BoxRec) #3 (ESPN)
Record in Major Title Fights: 10-1, 6 KO, 1 KOBY
Last Five Opponents: 118-22-4 (.833)
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
Additional Results, Current/Former Champions/Titlists Faced: None
Title: Ring Magazine/WBA Light Flyweight (2018-Present, 4 Defenses)
Previous Titles: IBF Strawweight (2017-18, 2 Defenses)
Weight: 107 ¾ lbs.
Hails from: Tokyo, Japan
Record: 16-0, 11 KO
Press Rankings: #1 (ESPN), #2 (TBRB), #3 (BoxRec)
Record in Major Title Fights: 8-0, 4 KO
Last Five Opponents: 105-18-5 (.840)
Notable Outcomes, TBRB and/or Ring Rated Foes: Jose Argumedo UD12; Carlos Buitrago TKO8; Hekkie Budler TKO10; Tetsuya Hisada UD12; Esteban Bermudez TKO8
Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: None
The Pick: The matchup here is one of the more difficult to pick this year. They are of equal reach, height, and on film there doesn’t appear to be a significant difference in speed. The key here is who can impose their style most effectively.
Both employ good jabs but for different purposes. Teraji often looks to jab to keep the fight at range for him to unleash his stinging right hand. Teraji is good at digging to the body with the left or in quick combinations but he’s a smart fighter and rarely leaves himself in the trenches. In the Yabuki rematch or other performances like his win over Milan Melindo, Teraji picked his foes apart with timing, accuracy, and mounting punishment. If Teraji can stunt Kyoguchi’s offense and take advantage of the openings the hittable Kyoguchi presents, he can contain the firefight and find a way to victory.
Kyoguchi’s jab is about creating opportunities to get closer and unleash the high-volume offense that is his calling card. Kyoguchi is relentless on the front foot, possessing wicked left and right uppercuts to the head and body. If Kyoguchi can batter the body of Teraji early and often, there is the potential for a fight where Teraji is forced to stand ground and keep Kyoguchi off of him. That’s a fight Kyoguchi can win.
The thinking here is we see both men have moments where their approach is working in the first half of the fight. Kyoguchi will have to be defensively responsible going into the right hand of Teraji but as the rounds pass, Teraji will be the one drowning in a storm. Look for Kyoguchi to increasingly take control in the second half with the sort of attack that makes it difficult to award rounds the other way. The pick here is a late stoppage or decision for Kyoguchi.
Additional Tuesday Pick
Shokichi Iwata Dec. Jonathan Gonzalez
Rold Picks 2022: 51-10
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 email@example.com
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