Kenshiro Teraji at the press conference announcing his fight against Jonathan Gonzalez, which was cancelled due to illness suffered by Gonzalez. (Photo by Naoki Fukuda)
Junior flyweight champion Kenshiro Teraji will defend his Ring, WBA and WBC titles against unheralded Los Angeles prospect Anthony Olascuaga in the main event of a huge card at Ariake Arena in Tokyo on April 8.
Olascuaga (5-0, 3 KOs), an amateur standout trained by Rudy Hernandez and already rated No. 2 by the WBA, replaced Teraji’s original opponent Jonathan Gonzalez, the WBO junior flyweight titleholder from Puerto Rico who fell out of the unification showdown due to a bout with Mycoplasma pneumoniae (also known as “walking pneumonia”).
According to a statement from the April 8 card’s promoter, Teiken Promotions, they began their late-substitute search with Gerardo Zapata of Nicaragua, currently rated No. 13 by the WBO, but there was not enough time to get the 14-1 southpaw a visa. So, the opportunity of a lifetime went to 24-year-old Olascuaga, who is trained by veteran cornerman Rudy Hernandez and had already been in Japan, training at the Teiken Gym since March 13 in preparation for an April 15 fight scheduled in South Korea.
“We said ‘yes’ on two weeks’ notice because opportunities sometimes only come one time so we must take them,” Hernandez, who has coached Olascuaga since the amateur standout was 14 years old, told The Ring.
“My biggest joy is knowing that he can perform and show his talent. Win, lose or draw, I want people to want to see him.”
Hernandez left for Japan, where he’s worked corners more than 100 times dating back to the championship years with his late brother Genaro Hernandez, before Teraji-Olascuaga was finalized, knowing that the official announcement would be made during his flight.
Teraji (20-1, 12 KOs) and Olascuaga may have been destined to fight since the day they exchanged punches in sparring sessions at Maywood Boxing Club in Maywood, California in 2017, right after Teraji won his first WBC title. Hisashi Teraji, manager and father of Teraji, called Olascuaga, still a teenager at the time, “Genius Tony,” due to his talent. Five years later, the experienced champion made a short visit to reunite with Olascuaga for some sparring work last December.
“First of all, I thank everyone who made this fight for me. My new opponent is with orthodox stance. I will win anyway!” Teraji, who has 12 world title bouts under his belt, Tweeted.
Although the gap in their experience is undeniable, those who have witnessed their recent quality rounds of sparring know that it is a very interesting matchup.
Teraji-Olascuaga headlines a stacked card presented by Amazon Prime. It includes the pro boxing debut of Tenshin Nasukawa, the kickboxing phenom, an IBF featherweight title eliminator between two-time titleholder Kiko Martinez and a Japanese favorite Reiya Abe, and a showdown for the vacant WBA bantamweight title between Takuma Inoue (Naoya Inoue’s younger brother) and veteran Liborio Solis. The card will be streamed live by ESPN+ in the U.S.