Kenshiro Teraji sent an emphatic reminder of why he once was—and should again be—regarded as the baddest junior flyweight on the planet.
A reversal of fortune was enjoyed by Teraji, who avenged his lone career defeat following a third-round knockout of countryman Masamichi Yabuki to regain the WBC junior flyweight title. Teraji floored Yabuki to produce an immediate stoppage at 1:11 of round three in their anticipated rematch Saturday at City Gym in Kyoto, Japan.
The element of surprised was no in play, as Teraji was prepared for any tricks that his lone conqueror had to offer. He Yabuki sprinted out to an early lead in their first fight—also held at this location—but it was Teraji who dominated the tempo and the exchanges in the opening round. Yabuki struggled to get past the persistent jab of Teraji, who was at full strength for their rematch after having entered their delayed first fight after recovering from a bout with Covid last September.
Yabuki was lost in the first defense of the WBC junior flyweight title he wrested from Teraji via tenth-round knockout last September 22 in one of the best fights of 2022. The sequel never had a chance to reach that fever pitch, with Teraji in full control for as long as the fight lasted. Teraji entered the ring as a challenger for the first time in nearly five years, fighting like a man who had everything taken from him as Yabuki did not have any response for his rival’s jab and straight right hand.
Teraji continued to come forward in round two, walking down the defending champion and snapping his head back with the same combination that worked so well in the opening round. Yabuki—who won six straight heading into Saturday’s encounter—attempted to respond in kind but was a little too slow during each exchange and often coming up short.
The first fight between the two featured plenty of momentum shifts but not any knockdowns prior to Teraji being rescued after being battered by a resurgent Yabuki. That changed barely a minute into the third round of the rematch. Teraji perfectly timed Yabuki with a straight right hand, putting him flat on his back. Referee Michiaki Someya immediately halted the contest, prompting Teraji to burst into tears of joy in regaining his crown.
Teraji improves to 19-1 (11KOs) as he returns to the title picture. The win was his first since a 12-round decision over Tetsuya Hisada in the final defense of his first WBC title reign last April in Osaka, Japan.
Yabuki falls to 13-4 (12KOs) with the loss. His title stay and six fight win streak both come to a close, having held the belt for just less than six months and without a single successful title defense.
The bout aired live on Abema TV in Japan.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox