Kenshiro Teraji to defend 108-pound championship versus Hekkie Budler, September 18
News reached The Ring that Kenshiro Teraji will put his Ring Magazine, WBA and WBC junior flyweight titles on the line against WBC mandatory challenger Hekkie Budler, at Ariake Arena, Tokyo, Japan, on September 18.
In chief support, WBO junior bantamweight titleholder Junto Nakatani will make the first defense of his crown against Argi Cortes.
Teraji had been due to face WBO counterpart Jonathan Gonzalez in a unification, in April, only for the Puerto Rican to pull out with pneumonia. Ultimately Anthony Olascuaga stepped in to save the show and was stopped in nine rounds.
Teraji (21-1, 13 knockouts) won the Japanese and OPBF titles inside eight fights. Soon afterward, “The Amazing Boy” stepped up to the world scene and claimed the WBC title, in May 2017, edging Ganigan Lopez (MD 12). The 31-year-old has improved immeasurably since that time, making eight defenses against Lopez (KO 2), Milan Melindo (TKO 7), Jonathan Taconing (TKO 4) and Randy Petalcorin (TKO 4).
However overconfidence saw him return from COVID-19 too quickly and lose 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 the title. He then upped his game again and scored a career-best win over previously unbeaten Hiroto Kyoguchi (TKO 7) to claim The Ring and WBA titles. He has since stopped Olascuaga.
Budler (35-4, 11 KOs), The Ring-rated No. 2 junior flyweight, won the vacant WBA strawweight title in 2014. “The Hexecutioner” made four defenses before being surprisingly beaten by Byron Rojas (UD 12). The South African made the jump to junior flyweight and lost to IBF beltholder Milan Melindo (SD 12) but, to his credit, he stunningly upset Melindo’s conqueror Ryoichi Taguchi for The Ring, IBF and WBA titles. However Budler lost to Hiroto Kyoguchi (L TKO 10) in his first defense.
Budler, now 34, fought once in three-and-a-half-years. He recently headed to Mexico to face Elwin Soto in a WBC title eliminator. Budler used his vast experience to edge past Soto by one point on all three scorecards en route to claiming a close but well-deserved 12-round unanimous decision. He has since stayed busy demolishing overmatched Thai journeyman Wichet Sengprakhon in one round.
Nakatani (25-0, 19 KOs), The Ring-rated No. 3 junior bantamweight, ran through his early opposition and holds wins over future junior flyweight titleholder Masamichi Yabuki (UD 4) and current Japanese titleholder Seigo Yuri Akui (TKO 6) and passed the litmus test of former 108-pound titleholder Milan Melindo (TKO 6). COVID-19 stymied the tall 25-year-old’s progress and he had to wait 13 months to win the vacant WBO title from Giemel Magramo (KO 8).
The heavy-handed boxer-puncher made two defenses, including his American debut, when he stopped former titleholder Angel Acosta (TKO 4) and, on the undercard of Gennadiy Golovkin-Ryota Murata, he was equally impressive bludgeoning Ryota Yamauchi (TKO 8). He moved up to 115 pounds and beat teak-tough Francisco Rodriguez Jr. (UD 10) before claiming the vacant WBO title by scoring a highlight reel knockout over Andrew Moloney (TKO 12).
Cortes (25-3-2, 10 KOs) made his debut in 2014. He fell on difficult times, losing his third and fourth fights, but has rebounded strongly, not losing until he faced Ring champion Juan Francisco Estrada (UD 12) last September.
The 28-year-old Mexico City resident has since won two fights to earn this opportunity.