Kenshiro Teraji hasn’t give up on his goal to fully unify the junior flyweight champion.
A multi-belt unification bout was on the horizon versus WBO titlist Jonathan ‘Bomba’ Gonzalez, who fell ill and was forced to withdraw from their scheduled April 8 clash at Ariake Arena in Tokyo. Teraji went on to face late replacement Anthony Olascuaga, whom he stopped in the ninth round..
The timing of the fallout was unfortunate, as Teraji was well aware of a mandatory title defense on the horizon. The reigning lineal, WBC and WBA 108-pound champion from Kyoto will next face South Africa’s Hekkie Budler (35-4, 11KOs), the former two-division titlist and current number-one ranked WBC junior flyweight contender, on September 18 also at Ariake Arena.
“I was shocked when I found out I wouldn’t have the opportunity to win more titles,” Teraji admitted to BoxingScene.com. “But the important part is to win no matter who comes your way, so I was glad I won that night.”
Teraji (21-1, 13KOs) unified two titles as part of an incredible bounceback campaign in 2022.
He entered the year on the heels of his lone career defeat, a stunning tenth-round stoppage to Masamichi Yabuki in September 2021. Their rematch last March saw Teraji avenge his lone career defeat with a third-round knockout. The second-generation boxer capped the year with a stunningly one-sided, seventh-round stoppage of unbeaten countryman Hiroto Kyoguchi last November 1 in Saitama, Japan.
The win over Kyoguchi came with preliminary discussions of next facing Gonzalez (27-3-1, 14KOs), who outpointed unbeaten Shokichi Iwata in the evening’s co-feature. Gonzalez has not fought since then nor was able to line up another fight after having to drop out from the April 8 clash versus Teraji, though he may fight later this year.
With any luck—and with wins by both—a Teraji-Gonzalez bout can be revisited in 2024. There is also Budler’s stablemate and current IBF titlist Sive Nontshinga (12-0, 9KOs).
“I believe there is still a chance to become undisputed champion,” stated Teraji. “I plan to stay at junior flyweight as long as I can unify the titles next year.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox