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Fight Picks: Kenshiro Teraji vs. Hiroto Kyoguchi

Teraji (left) and Kyoguchi at the weigh-in for the November 1 clash. (Photo by Naoki Fukuda)
31
Oct

Tomorrow, Ring/WBA junior flyweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi will face WBC counterpart Kenshiro Teraji at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.

​The highly antcipated main event will stream live on ESPN+ early in the U.S., starting around 7:30 a.m. ET/4:30 a.m. PT on Tuesday, November 1. Full coverage starts at 4:30 ET/1:30 PT.

Divsion champ 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 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.



Teraji, who is rated No.1 behind Kyoguchi, won the Japanese and OPBF titles inside eight fights. Soon after that, “Wonder Boy” claimed the WBC title in May 2017, edging Ganigan Lopez (MD 12). The 30-year-old has improved immeasurably since that time, making eight defenses against the likes of Lopez (KO 2), Milan Melindo (TKO 7), Jonathan Taconing (TKO 4) and Randy Petalcorin (TKO 4).

However, over-confidence saw him return from a COVID too quickly, and he lost his unbeaten record and title to Masamichi Yabuki (TKO 10) in September 2021. To his credit, Teraji doubled down and showed his class and an extra edge we hadn’t seen previously by blitzing Yabuki (KO 3) to regain his old belt.

On paper, this appears to be the classic boxer (Teraji) vs. puncher (Kyoguchi) matchup. Can Teraji (19-1, 11 knockouts) stick to his smart boxing behind his jab? Or will Kyoguchi (16-0, 11 KOs) be able to bring enough educated pressure that will have an effect on Teraji? These two know each other well. They met four times in the amateurs and Teraji holds a 3-1 advantage. Will that have any bearing? This is a huge opportunity for both men. It’s a big fight in Japan and will likely make the winner a star in their homeland. Who will handle those pressures better? 

Online gambling group William Hill lists Kyoguchi as an 8/13 (-163) favorite, while Teraji is priced at 6/5 (+120); the draw is 12/1 (+1200).

Here’s how the experts see it:

 

THE RING:

DOUG FISCHER: KYOGUCHI UD

“I love this matchup. The current U.S. boxing scene is frustrating and disappointing, but Japan appears to be entering a Golden Age with the help of Amazon Prime. Kyoguchi-Teraji is a clash of the two best junior flyweights: Ring/WBA champ vs. The Ring’s No. 1 contender/WBC titleholder. They’re both aggressive boxers and have plenty of world-class experience despite having 20 or fewer pro bouts (Teraji has 20 bouts; Kyoguchi has 16). Teraji has 11 title bouts under his belt, going 10-1 over two WBC reigns, avenging his only loss (to current No. 6-rated Masamichi Yabuki) with an impressive third-round KO. Teraji is the more technical, fluid boxer. He operates well from a distance with an educated jab and well-timed right hand. He’s also more defensively sound than Kyoguchi, who I consider more of a natural FIGHTER. Kyoguchi has good inside technique but can be rather stationary as he stalks forward. However, he does a lot of damage with his left to the body, left hook and left uppercut as Esteban Bermudez (Ring’s current No. 8 contender) can attest. I think Teraji is going to build up an early points lead but by the middle rounds, Kyoguchi will have worked his way in close (and into SAVAGE mode). A concentrated body attack and constant pressure will breakdown and bloody the game Teraji, who will bravely battle back and last to the final bell but will be the worse for wear after 12 sensational rounds. Kyoguchi by close unanimous decision.”

Kyoguchi’s left hook to the body is one of his primary weapons. (Photo by Naoki Fukuda)

 

ANSON WAINWRIGHT: TERAJI UD

“I love this fight; from the moment it was made I thought this was an excellent matchup that will decide who is the best junior flyweight in the world. The little guys don’t often get the attention their skills deserve. Thankfully, this fight will be shown live on ESPN+ in America. It’s an early start, but at least it gets some coverage in the west. It’s a good stylistic matchup between two fighters who know each other from their amateur days. There won’t be any disrespect between these two, simply put it’s not the Japanese way. I expect Kyoguchi will be the aggressor and Teraji will look to counter. I think Teraji will have the better of things early and Kyoguchi will start to come into things after a few rounds. I think it may well be close and I expect a distance fight. It would be a real statement if either man got the win inside the distance. However, I think Teraji edges the fight by hard-fought but deserved unanimous decision.”

 

LEE GROVES: KYOGUCHI UD

“This unification bout between two of the best light flyweights on earth offers a pleasing contrast of styles; Teraji the speedy long-range boxer with good power, and Kyoguchi the gifted infighter with excellent work rate and a full arsenal of punches, particularly the uppercut with both hands. I believe Kyoguchi’s aggressiveness, high output and power will allow him to gradually pull away in the second half of the bout and capture a competitive but unanimous decision.”

Teraji at work ahead of the Kyoguchi fight. (Photo by Naoki Fukuda)

 

MARTY MULCAHEY: KYOGUCHI MD

“An excellent showdown of elite Japanese talents, with both men taking this fight to raise their profiles even more. Kyoguchi has only faced nominal opposition (2 fights in 3 years) since the COVID outbreak, while Teraji had a worse run in that same time span needing to avenge a shock loss to Masamichi Yabuki. I think this will be one of those fights where neither boxer will win three consecutive rounds, with noticeable momentum shifts but neither man is able to retain an advantage. Kyoguchi is the more dynamic of the duo, and in an evenly matched affair the boxer who draws the judge’s eyes to them should escape with a slim victory … I think that man is Kyoguchi. I will go with a Kyoguchi majority decision victory around 115-113 with a 114-114 thrown in.”

 

NORM FRAUENHEIM: KYOGUCHI UD. 

“The momentum is with Kyoguchi. So is his health. His career endured a couple of long interruptions because of injury and the Pandemic. But he enters the ring against Kenshiro Teraji healthy and confident. Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom and Eddy Reynoso are betting he’ll be the next big star at light-flyweight. They signed him. Expect him to fulfill their confidence in him against Teraji, who regained his junior-flyweight belt with an early stoppage of Masamichi Yabuki in a March rematch of a stunning KO loss, his only defeat, to Yabuki. Teraji is an action fighter, but some of that busy action will get him in trouble against the skillful Kyoguchi.”

 

BOXING INSIDERS:

DUKE MCKENZIE (FORMER THREE-DIVISION TITLEHOLDER/TV ANALYST): KYOGUCHI TKO 10

“I’m looking forward to the result of this partial unification fight. I can’t realistically see this going the distance, both have good power. Kyoguchi should have all the answers to whatever Kenshiro throws at him. Kyoguchi late stoppage in 10-rounds.”

 

MARC RAMSAY (TRAINER): TERAJI UD

“As is often the case in this category I expect a very balanced and difficult fight for both boxers. I see Teraji winning a unanimous decision, but he will have to work very hard.”

Many insiders favor Teraji’s abilities but acknowledge he’s in for a fight. (Photo by Naoki Fukuda)

 

TOM GRAY (FORMER MANAGING EDITOR FOR THE RING): TERAJI UD

“Both guys are elite level, but I just have the feeling that Teraji is a step ahead in every area. I think he’s quicker, more versatile, more mobile, and I can see Kyoguchi really struggling in a boxing match. The Yabuki defeat was a bump on the road for Teraji and that loss was avenged with ease. Teraji will be too clever over the distance and win a comfortable points decision.”

 

ALEX STEEDMAN (COMMENTATOR): KYOGUCHI KO

“This could be one of the fights of 2022. Stylistically different perhaps but cut from a similar cloth as attack-minded power punchers. Kyoguchi is relentless without being reckless and a savage assaulter to the body. His uppercuts are nasty too. He’s usually in range, though, so can be hit and Teraji punches fast. I liked the higher guard in his explosive rematch revenge win over Yabuki too. Teraji has better feet, so has the tools to outbox Kyoguchi if finding the right game plan. But I suspect this could be an intense, all-action affair and Kyoguchi has the style and strength to win that type of fight. Kyoguchi by late stoppage.”

 

RUDY HERNANDEZ (TRAINER): TERAJI UD

“Kyoguchi vs. Kenshiro is a very good matchup. Their styles make for a great fight. Some rounds will be hard to judge, and some rounds could go either way; it will depend on who likes what. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a draw, but I’m picking a winner. I’d slightly edge Kenshiro. He has a great jab and that could be the difference at the end of the fight. Kenshiro wins a close but unanimous decision”

 

ERIC BOTTJER (MATCHMAKER): KYOGUCHI TKO 9

“Kenshiro Teraji, the ‘Amazing Boy,’ is no longer a boy at age 30. He can still fight, but he was exposed by puncher Masamichi Yabuki, a crude slugger who took advantage of Teraji’s habit of pulling back with his hands down. This will cost him against a prime, 28-year-old Hiroto Kyoguchi, who’s been around combat sports since age 3. This is a classic on paper — two exciting little men with rare power at their weight class. As Yabuki saved himself with a body punch against Teraji, Kyoguchi can use that blueprint to author a decisive win.”

 

WAYNE MCCULLOUGH (FORMER WORLD CHAMPION/ TRAINER): KYOGUCHI MD

The light-flyweight fight for the WBA and WBC belts between Hiroto Kyoguchi vs Kenshiro Teraji should be a great all Japanese showdown. Two aggressive champions going head-to-head that will lead to an action-packed fight. Kyoguchi has never tasted defeat, so I think he will have the slight edge in confidence going into this fight, but Teraji, who avenged his only loss, will definitely be in this fight with the rounds being very close. I think Kyoguchi will pull out a close majority decision over Teraji, but it will be a hard-fought fight to get a win. Maybe we’ll even see a Fight of the Year candidate.

Kyoguchi’s power comes from all angles. (Photo by Naoki Fukuda)

 

WILLIAM RAMIREZ (MANAGER): TERAJI KO 6

“To me, Kenshiro has a big advantage, he is a natural junior flyweight and has fought it his whole career. He can box and he can punch. I believe his loss was a fluke, and he came right back and proved it was. To be honest, I have not been impressed with Kyoguchi since he moved up in weight. Especially in his last few fights, although in his last fight he was coming off an injury. While the age difference is only two years, I believe Kenshiro’s experience is just too much for Kyoguchi. I can see the fight going into the middle rounds and I can see Kenshiro winning by KO somewhere around the sixth round.”

 

FELIX ALVARADO (FORMER IBF JUNIOR FLYWEIGHT TITLEHOLDER): TERAJI PTS

“Kenshiro is a boxer who has more resources. Kyoguchi has not been the same strong fighter at 108-pounds but Kyoguchi is dangerous. I am inclined to pick Kenshiro by decision.”

 

COLIN NATHAN (TRAINER): TERAJI PTS

“I think it’s a great contest, definitely 50/50. A very tight fight. Teraji is long and rangy and Kyoguchi proved he can be outboxed at range. Teraji on points.”

 

HEKKIE BUDLER (FORMER JUNIOR FLYWEIGHT CHAMPION): TERAJI

“Interesting fight. I fought Kyoguchi and he’s very good. I could have beaten him buts that’s boxing and life. They are probably the best two guys in the weight class. Kyoguchi is the aggressor and Kenshiro is the counterpuncher. I think Kenshiro wins a close points decision.”

Insiders point to Teraji’s experience and ranginess as advantages. (Photo by Naoki Fukuda)

 

SIVENATHI NONTSHINGA (IBF JUNIOR FLYWEIGHT TITLEHOLDER): KYOGUCHI

“They are both great fighters, they are both good at what they do. I’m looking forward to it. I believe it’s going to be a great fight for the boxing fraternity and may the best man win. I side with Hiroto, the fight will go the distance but Kyoguchi gets the victory. If he gets the victory, I can get a unification with him.”

 

EDITO VILLAMOR (TRAINER): TERAJI PTS

“It’s a good fight. I’m in favor of Teraji 60/40. Teraji is the one who fought [my fighter] Milan Melindo. I predict Kenshiro will win against Kyoguchi by decision.”

 

SHOKICHI IWATA (JUNIOR FLYWEIGHT CONTENDER): TERAJI

Although Kyoguchi’s fight style is better for me to deal with, when it comes to the clash between the two, I would just say that Teraji has a better chance to win.”

 

VICTOR SILVA (TV ANALYST): TERAJI UD

“Kenshiro was a very solid champion until he got knocked out; now the same ghost is in front of him again. Kyoguchi has a lot of power and desire. Experience will prevail on Kenshiro’s side; he will win a unanimous decision.”

 

Final Tally: Teraji 11-9

 

MORE FROM THE RING:

Hiroto Kyoguchi dismisses amateur losses to Teraji, says he’s a different fighter now – The Ring (ringtv.com)

Kenshiro Teraji ready to box or brawl with Kyoguchi for championship – The Ring (ringtv.com)

Junto Nakatani aims to leave 115-pound calling card with KO of Francisco Rodriguez – The Ring (ringtv.com)

Shokichi Iwata plans to take Jonathan Gonzalez’s belt, add more in his next fight – The Ring (ringtv.com)

 

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