Tuesday, May 30, 2023  |



Kenshiro Teraji halts game Anthony Olascuaga in ninth round, retains Ring, WBA, WBC 108-lb. titles

Kenshiro Teraji withstood the game challenge from Tony Olascagua and stopped the prospect in Round 9. Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Fighters Network

Kenshiro Teraji turned back the game challenge of late-substitute Anthony Olascuaga, stopping the inexperienced but talented prospect in the ninth round of an entertaining junior flyweight world championship bout on Saturday at Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Japan.

Teraji (21-1, 13 KOs), defended his Ring Magazine, WBA and WBC 108-pound titles against the 24-year-old L.A. native, who stepped in for WBO beltholder Jonathan Gonzalez, who had to withdraw due to illness.

While the scrapped title-unification match was a letdown, Olascuaga (5-1, 4 KOs), who had sparred with Teraji in Southern California as both an amateur and pro, made for a sensational battle.

Both fighters flashed snappy jabs and ripped vicious right crosses from the opening bell, and both landed head-snapping punches during the early rounds. However, Teraji, the busier fighter, also attacked the body, and controlled the distance with his footwork, alternating between pressure and stick-and-move tactics.

The vastly more experienced fighter took over the bout in Rounds 4, 5 and 6, punishing the younger man with combinations, but Olascuaga raged back in Rounds 7 and 8, taking the fight to Japan’s beloved 31-year-old veteran.

Teraji summoned the kind of rally that only special fighters have in them during Round 9 and backed Olascuaga to the ropes, knocking the up-and-comer through them with a violent barrage that forced referee Mark Nelson to wave the bout off without a count. It was the right call, as Olascuaga appeared woozy for minutes after the stoppage.

In the co-featured bout, Takuma Inoue outpointed game veteran Liborio Solis over 12 rounds to win the WBA bantamweight title his older brother Naoya recently vacated. Inoue (18-1, 4 KOs), The Ring’s 2015 Prospect of the Year, won by scores of 118-110, 117-111 and 116-112 but the 41-year-old Venezuelan made him earn it.

Solis (35-7-1, 16 KOs), The Ring’s No. 10-rated bantamweight, was the aggressor and the busier fighter for most of the match, but Inoue, The Ring’s No. 10-rated junior featherweight, was the more accurate ring general despite suffering a nasty cut (due to an elbow from Solis in Round 5) to the outer corner of his left eye.

On the undercard, Reiya Abe soundly outpointed The Ring’s No. 9-rated featherweight Kiko Martinez over 12 rounds, to earn the IBF’s mandatory challenger status. The 30-year-old southpaw won by scores of 119-109 (twice) and 117-111. The IBF title is currently held by Luis Alberto Lopez, who is set to defend it against Michael Conlan on May 27.

Also on the undercard of the Teiken/Top Rank co-promotions (streamed on Amazon Prime in Japan and ESPN+ in the U.S.), flashy welterweight prospect Jin Sasaki got up from a knockdown to score a thrilling third-round KO over battle-tested former title challenger Keita Obara (26-5-1, 23 KOs). Sasaki (15-1-1, 14 KOs) was dropped in the second round of the shootout but the 21-year-old puncher rebounded with a knockdown (courtesy of a left hook to the body) and then iced the 26-year-old veteran with a right cross.

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