Anyone who faces the present-day version of Kenshiro Teraji is in for their toughest test to date.
The lineal and unified junior flyweight champion believes the opposite could be true in his upcoming title defense. Of course, it doesn’t leave him any less confident that he will turn away the mandatory challenge of former two-division title claimant Hekkie Budler.
“Hekkie is a two-division champion with great technique,” Teraji told BoxingScene.com. “So, I can’t let my guard down. But I will win overwhelmingly.”
The two will meet on September 18 at Ariake Arena in Tokyo, ESPN+ will pick up the U.S. feed while the show will air live on Amazon Prime in Japan.
Teraji (22-1, 13KOs) will attempt the third defense of his second title reign, all within less than eleven months.
He avenged a September 2021 tenth-round knockout defeat to Masamichi Yabuki with a one-sided, third round knockout last March 19. Both fights took place in Teraji’s Kyoto hometown, the latter which set up a title unification bout versus countryman and then-unbeaten WBA titlist Hiroto Kyoguchi. Teraji was stunningly dominant in a seventh-round wipeout In just the second-ever unification bout between reigning major title holders from Japan.
Teraji attempted to further unify against WBO beltholder Jonathan ‘Bomba’ Gonzalez, who fell ill and withdrew from their planned April.8 bout at Ariake Arena. South Africa’s Budler (35-4, 11KOs) already accepted a step-aside package to stand down, with the assurance that the WBC mandatory contender would get next in line.
Budler previously held the WBA strawweight title and the WBA and IBF junior flyweight belts. He earned his way to the top contender spot with a twelve-round win over former WBO titlist Elwin Soto last June on the road in Mexicali.
“Hekkie is a very talented fighter,” noted Teraji. “I still believe there is a chance to become undisputed champion. So, this is a very important fight for me.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox