A Tuesday morning fight on DAZN could end up producing the best action of 2022, says Matt Bozeat
IT may be an idea to take Tuesday morning off work and watch DAZN instead.
They are screening a light-flyweight unification from Japan that’s sure to be there or thereabouts in the Fight-of-the-Year polls.
Kenshiro Teraji (19-1) and Hiroto Kyoguchi (16-0), Nos 1 and 2 respectively in the 108lbs division for ourselves and just about everyone else, are proven world-class box-fighters who produce quality work at a high tempo and have looked vulnerable.
Matchroom promote a fight that takes place at the Super Arena in Saitama.
It is a fight that has been mooted ever since December 2018, when Kyoguchi jumped up to 108lbs to dethrone WBA Super champion Hekkie Budler (32-3) with a 10th-round stoppage.
That win made Kyoguchi a two-weight world champion after only 12 fights. He previously won honours at 105lbs only 15 months after making his professional debut.
Teraji is ranked No 1 at 108lbs after avenging the only loss on his record in March.
The first fight between Teraji and Masamichi Yabuki was one of the best of 2021.
Rocked repeatedly by lopping punches early on, Teraji rallied to have Yabuki on the brink in the later rounds. Teraji looked only a clean punch or two away from victory throughout the ninth and the 10th – before Yabuki found a body shot took everything out of him.
That ended Teraji’s four-and-a-half-year reign as WBC champion.
In his defence, he had been troubled by covid in the build-up – the fight had to be pushed back 12 days – and the rematch was totally different
Teraji dominated from the outset, pushing the aggressive Yabuki on to the back foot with straight one-twos before switching his attacks downstairs in the third.
The punches brought Yabuki’s hands down and left him defenceless to a right hand Teraji aimed at his chin.
The shot flung him onto his back and the fight was over.
The younger fighter by two years at 28, Kyoguchi was last seen in June, stopping Esteban Bermudez (14-3-2) in eight thrilling rounds in Guadalajara.
That was Kyoguchi’s first fight for 15 months, but he settled quickly and soon had the hittable Mexican bloodied.
Though Bermudez rallied, he was outpunched in most of the rounds and the reason the scores were close after seven rounds was because the champion had been harshly docked a couple of points for using his head and rabbit punches.
The second penalty came late in the seventh after a series of chopping blows sent Bermudez to his knees.
He went back to his corner on rubbery legs at the bell and, knowing Bermudez was struggling, Kyoguchi jumped all over him at the start of the eighth, overwhelming him with a non-stop barrage of punches until the referee jumped in.
The way Kyoguchi put his punches together that night drew comparisons with Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez, but he hasn’t had things all his own way so far.
The 4ft 9 ½ ins Axel Aragon Vega (14-3-1) was up by two points on one card and level on the third before being ruled out with a hand injury and Tetsuya Hisada rocked Kyoguchi several times and left him with his left eye shut in a previous defence.
Hisada provides a form line to Teraji-Kyoguchi.
Eighteen months after he gave Kyoguchi all that trouble, Teraji had a much easier night with his countryman, dropping the 36-year-old in the second on the way to a wide points win.
Of course, it doesn’t therefore follow that because Teraji handled Hisada more comfortably than Kyoguchi he will win on Tuesday, but the performances against the common opponent are some sort of guide and also show the contrast in their styles.
Teraji is a boxer who can fight, while Kyoguchi is a fighter who can box. Kyoguchi favours hooks and uppercuts, while Teraji is at his most effective when he gets behind his jab – and he possibly makes fewer mistakes than Kyoguchi.
We go for Teraji to use his skills to win a Fight-of-the-Year contender on points.