Kenshiro Teraji retained his WBC and WBA junior flyweight titles with a ninth round stoppage win over Anthony Olascuaga, a late-notice, substitute opponent who came out of nowhere and earned a lot of respect with a gritty, hard-fighting performance.
Teraji (21-1, 13 KO) had to earn this one, as even when he was pretty well in control of the fight in terms of winning rounds, Olascuaga (5-1, 3 KO) was in there winging shots and landing good ones in pretty much every single round.
We had Teraji winning the first seven rounds — Olascuaga may have had an argument in a couple — before Olascuaga really started to do some actual noticeable damage in round eight. And with Teraji having been stopped in a major upset loss in the past, there was the sense that Olascuaga’s refusal to give up on the fight at any point could have been leading to something dramatic.
It did, but in the direction of Kenshiro, who came out and attacked in round nine, dropping Olascuaga after a flurry of punches. Referee Mark Nelson immediately jumped in to stop the fight there, and judging by how Olascuaga looked in the corner after, it was the right call. Nelson had the angle and saw something, and he did his job.
Teraji remains an incredibly fun fighter to watch, period, in part because he’s not a great — or even particularly good — defensive fighter, and he wants to get stoppages. He’s an action fighter, he’s vulnerable, he gets hit, and he fires away himself.
As for Olascuaga, the 24-year-old takes his first L, but he took it against the best fighter in the world at 108 lbs, coming in late as the opponent, taking a massive step up in competition, and has only raised his stock in defeat. A lot more people know who he is today than they did before, and he had a proud, tough performance against a top fighter.
Teraji vs Olascuaga highlights
Undercard highlights and results
- Takuma Inoue UD-12 Liborio Solis: The first of the four bantamweight vacancies left by Naoya Inoue has been claimed by his brother Takuma on scores of 116-112, 117-111, and 118-110. BLH had it 117-111. It wasn’t really as impressive a win as the scores make it sound, but the right man definitely won. The 41-year-old Solis (35-7-1, 16 KO) still is pretty quick with his hands for an old guy, but as the fight got into the second half, he slowed down just enough that the basic, solid approach of Inoue (18-1, 4 KO) just kept winning rounds. He didn’t dominate, but he won clearly. Technically, he is currently the undisputed bantamweight champion of the world, as the other three major titles that I will recognize — not you, IBO, quiet — remain vacant, with the next vacancy slated to be filled on May 13, when Jason Moloney faces Vincent Astrolabio for the WBO title, at which time Inoue will become the world’s second-best bantamweight titlist so long as they don’t fight to a draw.
- Tenshin Nasukawa UD-6 Yuki Yonaha: Click here for highlights and full thoughts, Tenshin is a big star so we tried to juice some traffic out of his fight, since Kenshiro historically does bupkis for us. Is that honest enough?
- Jin Sasaki TKO-3 Keita Obara: On paper, this one had potential to crack, and it cracked. The Japanese TV video package for this one sold me on the fight really quickly, as you had the confident young man, Sasaki, at age 21, who hopes to be Japan’s first welterweight world champion. And on the other side, the veteran Obara, 36, who said his goal was to “ruin the young generation’s dream again.” But despite Obara (26-5-1, 23 KO) catching Sasaki (15-1, 14 KO) overreaching a bit for a knockdown in round two, youth was served. In the third round, Sasaki dropped Obara with a hard left hook to the body, and then finished him with a wicked chopping right hand to the head just after that, a clean knockout. It’s a TKO instead of a KO because they stopped it before administering a count, but it was a pure knockout. There’s a lot to like about Sasaki; he’s still raw, but he has true power, quicker hands than you might expect, and a real swagger and charisma. And I think this is notable: He’s already taken an L in pretty dominant fashion, and that didn’t break him mentally or anything.
- Reiya Abe UD-12 Kiko Martinez: Scores were 117-111, 119-109, and 119-109, and the fight was as one-sided as that sounds. BLH had it 118-110. Abe (25-3-1, 10 KO) gets the clear win in the IBF featherweight eliminator, and may have put Martinez (44-12-2, 31 KO) out to pasture here. Also maybe not, but Kiko’s 37 and he just got dominated after the first couple rounds, with Abe making the Spaniard pay a heavy price for his aggression over and over. Martinez stayed in the fight and kept trying, but his one-dimensional approach was picked apart by Abe’s superior footwork, and the Japanese veteran did plenty of damage in this fight, too, hurting Martinez a few times. Once Abe really got the timing of his shots going in round three, Martinez was unable to build any momentum, and Abe was confident, sharp, and his tactics were just better. He was the better fighter, by a lot.