Friday, September 22, 2023  |


Kenshiro Teraji knocking on P4P door while building hall-of-fame worthy career

Kenshiro Teraji unified the WBC and WBA 108-pound titles and won the Ring Magazine junior flyweight championship with his seventh-round stoppage of domestic rival Hiroto Kyoguchi in 2022. Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Fighters Network

Kenshiro Teraji retained his Ring Magazine, WBA and WBC junior flyweight titles by stopping former two-weight champion Hekkie Budler in nine rounds on Monday at the Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Japan.

Budler started fast but Teraji hung with him. The defending champion and the grizzled veteran went back and forth, tit-for-tat, for most of the fight. Although Teraji had the better of things it was never easy, and he had to fight with a cut over the right eye in Round 5 from a clash of heads.

The 31-year-old Teraji (22-1, 14 knockouts) remained undeterred and focused on the prize and picked up the pace forcing a well-timed stoppage from referee Lupe Garcia, who jumped in to save Budler (35-5, 11 KOs) after a barrage of punches at 2:19 of the ninth round.

At the time of the stoppage, Teraji was ahead 80-72 on one scorecard and 79-73 on the other two. Budler had won the seventh round on two scorecards.

It was a solid, workmanlike performance from the best 108-pounder on the planet, who will now look to further unify the division.

Teraji had been scheduled to face WBO ruler Jonathan Gonzalez in mid-April only for the Puerto Rican to pull out of the fight due to mycoplasma.

Gonzalez hasn’t fought since but will head to Nicaragua to put his title on the line against Leyman Benavides on October 27.

All being well the hope is that Teraji and Gonzalez can meet in the first quarter of 2024.

The other titleholder at 108-pounds is IBF ruler Sivenathi Nontshinga, who is a stablemate of Budler. The South African will face Adrian Curiel in Monte Carlo on November 4.

At this juncture Teraji will be favored against Gonzalez, Nontshinga or anyone else at 108-pounds.

As for Budler, he put up a good effort, but it wasn’t to be. The little South African has enjoyed an excellent career, winning world titles at 105 and 108 pounds, where he was a unified Ring champion. It’s tough to see where he goes from here. Thankfully, when I spoke to him after the fight he was in good spirits and said he was doing OK.

Teraji has grown exponentially as a fighter. He first entered The Ring’s rankings when he picked up the national title in his sixth fight against teak-tough Kenichi Horikawa (UD 10) in December 2015. Two fights later he dominated Toshimasa Ouchi (UD 12) to add the regional OPBF title to his resume and in doing so matching his father Hisashi’s achievements from the 1990s.

Those wins put him in position to for a shot at WBC beltholder Ganigan Lopez in 2017. Teraji edged past the Mexican by tight 12-round majority decision but didn’t look like a future star. He was given a tough time by former titlist Pedro Guevara (MD 12) before showing the growth as a fighter by taking out Lopez (KO 2) in their rematch.

Teraji marked himself out as one of the best in the division notching eight successful defenses. However, overconfidence saw him move his fight with Masamichi Yabuki back just 12 days after suffering from COVID-19. The turnaround was too quick, and Teraji lost his unbeaten record and title to his countryman, who stopped him in 10 rounds in September 2021.

The defeat ended his hopes of matching Yoko Gushiken’s record (13) for most world title defenses by a Japanese fighter and led to some sole searching. He had always said when he lost, he’d retire. He was thinking about going back to school to become a sushi chef. Thankfully, “The Amazing Boy” decided to stick with boxing.

To his credit, Teraji, doubled down and showed his class and an extra edge we hadn’t seen previously by blitzing his countryman in three rounds to regain the title in early 2022.

Teraji avenged his upset loss to Masamichi Yabuki with a third-round knockout in their rematch. (Photo by Naoki Fukuda)

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. The eagerly anticipated matchup was seen by most as a 50/50 fight; 20 experts polled for a RingTV “Fight Picks” story gave Teraji a slight 11-9 advantage, while Kyoguchi was the bookmakers’ 8/13 (-163) favorite.

That definitively settled any debate as to who the best 108-pounder was not just in Japan but the world. It was a stunning performance, one of the best in the lower weights.

The Yabuki and Kyoguchi wins earned him The Ring’s 2022 Comeback of the Year award.

Since then, he has stopped late-sub Anthony Olascuaga and Budler in nine rounds.

Teraji is knocking on the door of pound-for-pound recognition and has a legitimate claim to a top 10 spot already. Whether he enters after this win is up for debate but if he can become undisputed junior flyweight champion you may not be able to keep him off your mythical list.


Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on



Bundle and save! Purchase The Ring's Living Legend specials celebrating the careers of Larry Holmes, Felix Trinidad and Julio Cesar Chavez for just $25 while supplies last.