Sometimes, we don’t get a great fight.

Instead, we get the sort of singular performance that separates one foe from another in a way that drops jaws. 

Roy Jones-James Toney, Bernard Hopkins-Felix Trinidad, Floyd Mayweather-Diego Corrales, and Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder II were all nights like that. What happened Tuesday in Saitama won’t resonate worldwide the way those results did. One can debate how either combatant compares to those more famous names. Given the stakes in the event, what Kenshiro Tearji did to Hiroto Kyoguchi in a Jr. flyweight unification was every bit the same rising to the moment.

Teraji took a genuine 50-50 fight on paper and turned it into a showcase. 

It wasn’t without flashes of competition. Teraji established his jab and right hand early, controlling the first four rounds. His feet were skipping just into the space where he could force Kyoguchi to keep charging towards Teraji’s longer, sharper shots. A knockdown in the fifth and what came after hinted the fight was just getting started. 

Kyoguchi came off the floor and endured a rain of leather. It was Teraji, the more precise boxer, unloading on the volume battler with a variety of head and body shots in educated, violent combinations. Kyoguchi showed his championship heart as Teraji caught his breath, digging in and finding openings for his own attack. Teraji was stunned and pushed back in a furious three minutes. It was one of the best rounds of the year. 

Teraji went back to work in the sixth, keeping Kyoguchi at bay and continuing to control the action. In the seventh, Kyoguchi made another charge and appeared to be having some success. Teraji shut that down with a laser of a right hand, separating Kyoguchi from his senses. The referee didn’t count.

It was over. 

One year after suffering a stunning stoppage loss to largely unheralded Masamichi Yabuki, Teraji has rebounded with the best year of his career. He avenged the Yabuki loss with a vicious third round knockout. He’s now won an all-undefeated unification clash in a shutout finished with a punctuation mark. Teraji is making a case as one of the great Jr. flyweights. So what’s next?

Futures: Teraji might next be headed to more unification. WBO titlist Jonathan Gonzalez was victorious against Shokichi Iwata on the undercard and the path is clear for them to face off. Before Teraji gets there, everyone who votes on such things must look at his case now for Fighter of the Year in 2022. There will be appearances yet from Dimitri Bivol and Roman Gonzalez that will factor there as well but Teraji definitely made his case on Tuesday. 

The only belt left for the winner of a Teraji-Gonzalez fight would be IBF titlist Sive Nontshinga. Jr. flyweight has had a talented roster for several years. We appear to finally be seeing it all come together. Until proven otherwise, Teraji is the leader of the class and now the lineal king of the class.

Cliff’s Notes…

Vasyl Lomachenko started slow and came on late against a game Jamaine Ortiz. It was close at the end (a draw to these eyes) but the last third of the fight was all Lomachenko. The veteran will need to be better next time. It’s likely the die was already cast and we’re on our way to Lomachenko challenging Devin Haney for the lightweight championship. It will be a big deal by the time it gets here with ESPN going hard for the bout…William Zepeda is now a bona fide contender and he’s going to be must-see TV as the competition keeps improving. Joseph Diaz found out what a lot will find out. If one can’t hurt  Zepeda, there is a good chance they will be fighting uphill through a tornado…Katie Taylor looked like Katie Taylor last weekend. She’s the best lightweight in the world for a reason. Seeing Amanda Serrano in a sequel is still the biggest show in town…Junto Nakatani was solid if not spectacular against Francisco Rodriguez on the Teraji-Kyoguchi undercard. Nakatani is going to be a factor in the still loaded Jr. bantamweight class sooner than later.              

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