Kenshiro Teraji once again lived up to his ‘Amazing Boy’ moniker.
The two-time and reigning lineal/WBA/WBC junior flyweight champion earned his fourth consecutive knockout, this one in a ninth-round stoppage of former two-division titlist Hekkie Budler. A barrage of punches left Budler defenseless along the ropes, as referee Lupe Garcia stopped the contest at 2:19 of round nine Monday at Ariake Arena in Tokyo.
Budler jumped out to a strong opening round, as he and noted trainer Colin Nathan tried to exploit Teraji’s normally slow start nature. The visiting former two-division titlist found an early home for his right hand, which Teraji took well and remained committed to his crisp jab in their Amazon Prime Video/ESPN+ main event.
Terrific two-way action ensued in round two. Teraji settled into a steady offensive groove and put together combinations. A right hand down the middle snapped back the head of Budler, who came back with a straight right of his own. Teraji landed left hooks and a stab jab downstairs while Budler did his best to keep pace and land power shots of his own.
Kyoto’s Teraji committed to a body attack which saw Budler show the first signs of slowing down in round three. A wind-up right hand by Teraji landed just under Budler’s tight guard.
Budler kept his composure no matter the scenario or whenever Teraji threatened to pull away. The 35-year-old Johannesburg native did his best to make things uncomfortable for the defending champ, who was cut over the right eyebrow from a clash of heads early in round five. Teraji resumed action and threw a steady jab but was forced to rely on his chin as Budler landed an overhand right.
Teraji set traps in round six. Budler walked straight forward after being urged to avoid getting caught in the pocket. Teraji used his opponent’s aggression to his own advantage as he stepped back, planted his feet and landed clean one-two combinations upstairs.
Budler shook off a jab to land a counter right hand upstairs in round seven. Teraji readjusted and went back to the stick to set up his power shots. Budler continued to press forward and landed a right hand during an exchange.
Teraji enjoyed far greater success in round eight. Budler relied more on movement as Teraji consistently landed with his jab and right hand upstairs. Both boxers all but abandoned their earlier commitment to a body attack, though Budler ended the round with an attempted right and a left hook downstairs.
Any hope for Budler to turn the tide was immediately erased in the fateful ninth round. Teraji went on the attack and Budler was no longer able to defend himself. A right hand for Teraji crashed home against his challenger before the referee jumped in to rescue Budler from additional punshiment.
Teraji improved to 22-1 (14KOs) and is now 13-1 (9KOs) in major title fights spanning two reigns. The win was his fourth in a row since he regained his WBC title in a revenge fueled third round knockout of countryman Masamichi Yabuki last March. The feat avenged his lone career defeat, a tenth-round stoppage in their September 2021 Fight of the Year-level slugfest.
Budler fell to 35-5 (11KOs) in a failed bid to become a three-time titlist spanning two weight divisions.
The former WBA strawweight and WBA/IBF junior flyweight titlist earned this title shot with a twelve-round win over former WBO titleholder Elwin Soto in their WBC title eliminator last June 25 in Mexico City. He agreed to step aside earlier this year when Teraji sought to further unify versus WBO beltholder Jonathan ‘Bomba’ Gonzalez in April.
Gonzalez fell ill and was forced to withdraw, after which Teraji faced Anthony Olascuaga whom he stopped in the ninth round. Budler and his team immediately moved to have their mandatory status enforced, which led to Monday’s title fight.
At least one title has been at stake in every fight for Teraji dating back to his May 2017 win over Ganigan Lopez in just his tenth pro fight. He is now 7-1 in fights versus former or current titleholders.
The biggest remains a stunningly one-sided seventh-round knockout of unbeaten countryman Hiroto Kyoguchi in their WBA/WBC unification bout last November 1 in Saitama, Japan. Kyoguchi defeated Budler via tenth-round stoppage in their New Year’s Eve 2018 clash to begin his title reign before he conceded the belt to Teraji.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox