A rematch to one of the best fights of 2021 is officially set.
Masamichi Yabuki and Kenshiro Teraji both made weight ahead of their WBC junior flyweight title fight, which takes place Saturday at Kyoto City Gymnasium in Teraji’s home region of Kyoto, Japan. The same venue hosted their terrific first fight, which saw Yabuki deliver one of the year’s biggest upsets following a tenth-round knockout of previously unbeaten WBC champ Teraji last September 22.
Yabuki (13-3, 12KOs) weighed 107 ½ pounds for the fight, slightly lighter than his weight of 107 ¾ last September. Teraji (18-1, 10KOS) checked in at 107.4 pounds, also just under his fighting weight from their first fight for which he was 107 ½ pounds.
The bout marks the first time since May 2017 that Teraji will enter the ring as a title challenger. That moment came ahead of his 12-round majority decision win over Ganigan Lopez. Eight successful title defenses followed, including a 2nd round knockout of Lopez in their May 2018 rematch—his lone other repeat opponent heading into this weekend.
Yabuki moves forward with his first career rematch, along with entering the ring for the first time as a defending major titlist. The 29-year-old from Nagoya, Japan has won his past five fights, none bigger than his career-best victory over Teraji to end one of the sport’s longest-active title reigns at the time.
Their first fight was met with a 12-day delay, caused by Teraji having tested positive for Covid in forcing a postponement from the September 10 date. Yabuki sprinted out to an early lead against the unsuspecting Teraji, who rallied back in the second half but was also forced to overcome a gushing cut over his right eye.
Yabuki had to overcome adversity of his own, fighting through fatigue and a late surge by the defending champion before closing the show in style. Teraji went toe-to-toe with his challenger in hopes of scoring a bailout knockout. The opposite occurred, as Yabuki rocked his unbeaten countryman and battered him along the ropes until forcing referee Yuji Fukuchi to stop the contest at 2:59 of round ten.
The rematch will stream live on Abema TV, though subject to blackout in several regions.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox