THE RESULT: In a fight full of action and vicious exchanges, it was in the end the ability of Kenshiro Teraji to fight in more than one style which saw him secure a majority decision against Carlos Canizales today (January 23) in Osaka, Japan. Both men had periods of success, and indeed both scored knockdowns, yet it was Teraji who was at times able to recuperate by boxing and moving and it was Teraji who showed elements to his game Canizales, bull-like and determined, perhaps lacked. This difference would result in Teraji retaining his WBA and WBC light-flyweight belts by scores of 114-112, 114-112 and 113-113.
KEY MOMENTS: There were, in truth, plenty of key moments in this fight on account of the ferocious nature of the exchanges, but two big ones occurred early. Both knockdowns, the first arrived in the second round when Teraji landed a smart counter right on Canizales which staggered the challenger and had him somewhat cleverly grabbing on to Teraji’s body as he spiralled towards the canvas. This meant that not only did Canizalez hit the deck, but Teraji did, too, whereupon it became difficult for the referee to disentangle them (what with Canizales holding on to Teraji’s left leg for dear life).
The second key moment, meanwhile, arrived in the very next round. This, the third, was the round in which Canizales made his first big breakthrough of the night, doing so with a right hand of his own which landed flush on Teraji’s forehead and caused him to touch down. Now, with one knockdown apiece, the fight was wonderfully poised going into its second quarter.
RECORDS: The 32-year-old Teraji’s record now stands at 23-1 (14), while Canizales, 30, falls to 26-2-1 (19).
TALKING POINT: Whereas Canizales was consistent with his work throughout, and came on very strong in the final stages, there was a sense with Teraji that he took rounds off as the fight neared its conclusion. This switch in approach not only gave Canizales hope and momentum, but it also had the challenger feeling as though he had done enough to secure the win when the final bell sounded. Indeed, to look at the two, you would think there was only one winner, with Canizales lifted in the air by his corner team and Teraji, in contrast, appearing rather glum in his corner, neglecting to raise even an arm.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? The obvious thing to say following a fight of this quality is that there should be an immediate rematch. It was close enough, too, in terms of the scorecards, for a rematch to make complete sense and, what is more, with both boxers now in their thirties, there is no time to waste. First, though, they must heal, for make no mistake, this was a gruelling, punishing affair, the impact of which both will feel in the coming days.