Kenshiro Teraji can’t help but feel even more prepared than was the case in his last outing.
A dangerous mandatory title defense versus former two-division champ Hekkie Budler is next up for the reigning lineal, WBC and WBA junior flyweight king. It comes a little more than five months after his previous win, a ninth-round stoppage of unbeaten Anthony Olascuaga on April 8 at Ariake Arena in Tokyo.
Teraji (21-1, 13KOs) was originally due to face WBO 108-pound titlist Jonathan ‘Bomba’ Gonzalez in a three-belt unification bout on that April date. Puerto Rico’s Gonzalez withdrew due to illness, which left the 31-year-old Kyoto native to go from a shorter and defensive-minded southpaw to a more aggressive fighter two inches taller than Gonzalez and who was also an orthodox fighter.
Fortunately, Olascuaga fit the physical dimensions of Teraji’s previous opponent.
“I didn’t really have much time to prepare for that new style,” Teraji confessed to BoxingScene.com. “So I just remembered the way I fought Hiroto Kyoguchi and made it feel similar to that.”
Teraji turned in a career-best performance in a stunningly one-sided, seventh-round stoppage of the previously unbeaten Kyoguchi In their WBA/WBC unification bout last November 1 in Saitama, Japan.
The hope was to add one more belt to his collection before Teraji had to next face South Africa’s Budler (35-4, 11KOs) as his WBC mandatory challenger. Their bout takes place September 18, also at Ariake Arena.
Teraji figures to walk into less surprises for this bout, even if versus a higher class of opponent. What was never in play this time around was the chance to fight for a third divisional title, which will have to wait until at least his first fight of the new year.
“I was shocked that I didn't get more belts,” Teraji said of the way things played out for his previous outing. “But it's important to win no matter who comes, so I'm glad I won.”
Teranji will attempt the third overall defense of his second WBC title reign after he regained the belt eighteen months ago. He previously held the title for more than four years and made eight defenses before a stunning September 2021 tenth-round stoppage defeat to countryman Masamichi Yabuki, whom he knocked out in the third round of their title fight rematch last March in Kyoto.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox