One of boxing’s most debatable topics, the pound-for-pound list, will soon have another fighter looking to be added to the top ten. Unified junior flyweight champion Kenshiro ‘The Amazing Boy’ Teraji (22-1, 14 KOs) continued his dominating ways as he stopped the rugged veteran Hekkie Budler (35-5, 11 KOs) in the ninth round of their fight yesterday on ESPN+. More importantly, Teraji once again leveled up to beat an opponent marked as one of his toughest to date, posing whether Teraji is ready to enter the top ten P4P rankings. The short answer is not just yet, but he’s awfully close.
The 31-year-old Teraji has been a pro for nine years, and although he competes at the smaller weight class, hardcore fans have been paying attention to him for quite some time. When former WBO junior flyweight champion Angel ‘Tito’ Acosta started to make noise on the Golden Boy Promotion shows a few years back, the super fight envisioned was him taking on Teraji, who was already a WBC champion by then. Acosta would lose to Elwin Soto in 2019, which hurt any chances for a unification fight with Teraji. That Acosta loss also caused Teraji a fight with a known American champion to elevate his profile.
Teraji continued his dominance but started to get a little complacent and, in September 2021, lost to Masamichi Yabuki. Teraji said he was coming off of being ill with COVID, had some personal issues, and his training camp didn’t go as well as it could have. Teraji would get revenge a year later and return to being a top-level, focused champion. Then, in November, he would get an opportunity to become a unified champion, and he did so by stopping Hiroto Kyoguchi in seven rounds. This year, Teraji successfully defended his titles in April against Anthony Olascuaga before Monday’s dominant performance over Budler.
When you watched Teraji’s fight on Monday, you saw a high-level unified champion perform at his best. Although Budler tried to give him angles and footwork, Teraji made the appropriate adjustments each time, which surprised the veteran Budler. He has taken on all the top opponents and is currently the Ring Magazine champion for the division, signifying that he is the King. Although it was booked earlier this year and then canceled due to WBO champ Jonathan ‘Bomba’ Gonzalez (27-3-1, 14 KOs) being ill, the fight with Gonzalez looks to be next for Teraji as he continues to impress with his outstanding performances.
Teraji is a P4P fighter, but is he a top-ten one? Right now, I have to say he’s just outside of it, but a win against Gonzalez will force those who come up with these lists to include him, even if it’s at number ten. There’s no denying the skill level and his dominance in the division should make fans aware that he’s a monster, even if his last name isn’t Inoue. Teraji may get late career popularity like boxing great Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez which will be a shame as he already has a potential Hall of Fame resume. Regardless of how you may feel about the lower weight classes, you cannot deny the great ones, and next year, you will likely see Teraji’s name within the top ten P4P rankings.