Kenshiro Teraji ready to box or brawl with Kyoguchi for championship
Outstanding WBC junior flyweight titlist Kenshiro Teraji will look to claim the Ring and WBA titles when he meets Hiroto Kyoguchi at the Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, next Tuesday.
Teraji, who is rated No. 1 in the division by The Ring, behind champion Kyoguchi, is pleased to be facing his countryman in a big unification to decide who is the premier junior flyweight in the world.
“I have wanted this fight for a long time; I was always ready for it,” Teraji (19-1, 11 knockouts) told The Ring through Hank Hakoda. “Fighting in such a big venue as Saitama Super Arena serves as another great motivation for me.
“[Kyoguchi] displays skillful infighting with a variety of shots upstairs and downstairs. His overseas fight experiences could possibly be a plus for him, too. In any case, I will basically try to fight at my own distance, but I am fully ready for toe-to-toe [exchanges] anytime, depending on what he brings. I am confident that I can fight better than him even at close range.”
Teraji and Kyoguchi met four times in the amateurs and have sparred each other since. However, the 30-year-old isn’t reading too much into those meetings.
“I’m generally not interested in my amateur career in the first place,” he said. “Believe it or not, I don’t remember in detail who I fought, including even the bouts I lost. (laughs)
“I know that we had four bouts; I lost only once on points against Kyoguchi, but I don’t remember how I won and lost. In fact, when I was an amateur, I didn’t take boxing as seriously as I do today. Turning pro, we have faced [each other] in sparring sessions, where I could go my own distance against him. My style fits his really well; I can comfortably stay out of Kyoguchi’s range.”
Teraji, as usual, has trained at the Misako Gym under the eye of Kenta Kato and has selected unbeaten bantamweight Seiya Tsutsumi, who holds the Japanese championship at 118 pounds, as his lead sparring partner.
“I want to collect all the major four belts,” said Teraji. “My countryman Shokichi Iwata and Jonathan Gonzalez will also fight over WBO belt on the same event. After this fight, I just want to continue on and win the next belt. It would be a perfect scenario if another unification opportunity with the winner comes to me in my next fight.”
Teraji’s father, Hisashi, who is a former OPBF light heavyweight titlist, works closely with his son and acknowledges the importance of this rare all-Japanese unification.
“I expect him to unify the belts via a good performance,” said Teraji Sr. “His motivation is definitely the highest ever. He lost once to [Masamichi] Yabuki and won the rematch, so he knows what will happen if he loses again. He is still on the edge now. Although the huge audience’s reaction on the day may change our fight plan, what is certain now is that it will only be a competitive encounter.
“I watched a bit of their amateur fights, where Kenshiro seemed to gain the edge. However, now Kyoguchi is on a different level than he was with profound experiences in pro. Most notably, Kyoguchi gained more confidence than ever from his successful title defenses outside his comfort zone, in the U.S and Mexico.
“We haven’t decided yet whether Kenshiro will apply his trademark footwork and jab to build the fight or whether he will use aggression from the opening bell like he did in the rematch with Yabuki. Either way, we cannot avoid an intense fight and we never take Kyoguchi lightly.”
Kyoguchi came of age in early 2017, outboxing Jose Argumedo (UD 12) to win the IBF 105-pound title. He made two defenses: stopping perennial contender Carlos Buitrago (TKO 8) before besting Vince Paras (UD 12).
The heavy-handed 28-year-old moved up to junior flyweight and stopped Hekkie Budler (TKO 10), which saw the Japanese star claim Ring and WBA titles. Kyoguchi has since made four defenses.
Our correspondent Hank Hakoda coordinated and translated this feature.
The main event at the Saitama Super Arena will stream live on ESPN+ starting around 7:30 a.m. ET/ 4:30 a.m. PT on day, November 1. Full coverage starts at 4:30 ET/ 1:30 PT.
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected].