There has never been a Jr. champion. flyweight since Giovanni Segura relinquished the crown in 2011. Barring a draw, someone will change that on Tuesday in Saitama, Japan (ESPN+, 4:30 AM EST).
A close 1-2 game in any area is always welcome. This comes in a heavy weight where we see magic happening in the battles of this great. The first Michael Carbajal-Chiquita Gonzalez and the legendary Ivan Calderon-Giovanni Segura did it with men who were trying to unite the parts of their group.
Let’s say this is years in the making and not advertising. The rivalry between Teraji and Kyuguchi goes back to their days as athletes. According to Anson Wainwright at The Ring, Teraji holds a 3-1 record in those non-paying bouts. Much can change between hobbyists and professionals and there is a difference between a three-round grinder and a twelve-round grinder.
Teraji was considered by many to be the class of the division with a long and effective reign before a shocking loss in 2021 to contender Masamichi Yabuki. Teraji shook him off in style, avenging a three-round loss in March. He wasted no time trying to avoid another loss. Teraji goes straight to the big fight in the division.
Kyuguchi waited for a long time. Listed with two division titles through his twelfth fight, Kyuguchi was brutal in handing Esteban Bermudez just his second loss. Bermudez was coming off a great header from goalkeeper Carlos Canizales. Kyuguchi also handed champion Hekkie Budler his only loss for his Jr. title. flyweight.
This is as good as the unification fight has gotten with both men having defeated top ten fighters to clear the way for each other. If he’s not a Fight of the Year candidate in the end, it would be a surprise.
Let’s go inside.
Stats and Stakes
Title: WBC Light Heavyweight (2022-Present, First Defense)
Previous Nickname: WBC Heavyweight (2017-21, 8 Defenses)
Weight: 107 ¼ lbs.
It comes from: Uji, Kyoto, Japan
Record: 19-1, 11 OR, 1 KOBY
Press Position: #1 (TBRB, Ring, BoxRec) #3 (ESPN)
Record in the Great War: 10-1, 6 OR, 1 KOBY
Last Five Opponents: 118-22-4 (.833)
Notable Results, TBRB/Ring Rated Enemies: Gangan Lopez MD12, KO2; Pedro Guevara MD12; Milan Melindo TKO7; Tetsuya Hisada UD12; Masamichi Yabuki TKO 10, KO3
More Results, Current/Former Champions/Titlists Faced: Without
Title: Ring Magazine/WBA Light Flyweight (2018-Present, 4 defenses)
Previous Nickname: IBF Strawweight (2017-18, 2 Defences)
Weight: 107 ¾ lbs.
It comes from: Tokyo, Japan
Record: 16-0, 11 OR
Press Position: #1 (ESPN), #2 (TBRB), #3 (BoxRec)
Record in the Great War: 8-0, 4 OR
Last Five Opponents: 105-18-5 (.840)
Known Results, TBRB and/or Designation: Jose Argumedo UD12; Carlos Buitrago TKO8; Hekkie Budler TKO10; Tetsuya Hisada UD12; Esteban Bermudez TKO8
Additional Lists of Current/Former Faces: Without
The Pick: The average here is one of the hardest to take this year. They are equal in reach, length, and on film there doesn’t seem to be any significant difference in speed. The key here is someone who can execute their style effectively.
Both use good jabs but for different reasons. Teraji often looks to jab to keep the fight going so he can unleash his kicking right hand. Teraji is adept at digging to the body with lefts or in quick combos but he is a smart fighter and rarely leaves himself in holes. In the Yabuki rematch or other games like his win against Milan Melindo, Teraji picked off his opponent with timing, precision, and more discipline. If Teraji can stop Kyoguchi’s offense and take advantage of the openings Kyuguchi offers, he can take the firefight and find a way to win.
Kyuguchi’s jab is all about creating opportunities to get close and release the big offense that is his calling card. Kyuguchi is relentless on the front foot, with vicious left and right jabs to the head and body. If Kyuguchi can hit Teraji’s body early and often, there is a possibility of a fight where Teraji is forced to stay on the ground and keep Kyuguchi away from him. Kyuguchi’s fight is able to win.
The idea here is that we see both men have a moment when their system works in the first half of the fight. Kyuguchi had to be responsible for his defense going into Teraji’s right hand but as the round went by, Teraji was going to sink into danger. Look for Kyuguchi to take more control in the second half with the type of attack that makes it hard to give the award the other way. The choice here is a final stand or decision for Kyuguchi.
More Choice Tuesdays
Shokichi Iwata Dec. Jonathan Gonzalez
Rold Zabi 2022: 51-10
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the World Boxing Organization, a member of the World Boxing Research Association, and a member of the Writers Guild of America. He can be reached at email@example.com