Kenshiro Teraji and Carlos Canizales lived up to all the hype, with Teraji escaping by majority decision to retain his WBC and WBA 108 lb titles today in Osaka, Japan.
Teraji won two cards of 114-112, with the third even, 113-113. Bad Left Hook unofficially scored the fight 114-112 for Teraji.
This was a fantastic fight, a new early Fight of the Year clubhouse leader, with both dropped in the early rounds before the fight became more of a war of attrition in the latter rounds.
Teraji (23-1, 14 KO) got his toughest test in years here, which wasn’t necessarily unexpected, and was truly thrilling to watch for much of the bout.
Canizales (26-2-1, 19 KO) went down in the second round on a shot that caught him on the forehead and messed up his balance, a good call on the knockdown by referee Luis Pabon, as Canizales dove forward trying to tie up, missed, and sort of tackled Teraji down as he hit the canvas.
But the Venezuelan challenger returned the favor in round three, drilling Teraji with a nice shot for a flash knockdown, but a good, clean shot.
From there, it kept seeming like Canizales, 30, was having trouble with the ridiculous pace of the fight, but then he’d burst alive, particularly late in rounds as he looked to either confirm or “steal” many of the rounds.
Teraji, 32, consistently looked the fresher man, but no matter how ragged Canizales’ body language seemed, he just kept hanging in there and giving terrific effort.
Other than going undisputed, Teraji has done about all there is to do in this division at this point, and if fights with WBO titleholder Jonathan Gonzalez or the Curiel vs Nontshinga rematch winner can’t be made, it’s possible he could move up to flyweight, where we just saw his countryman Seigo Yuri Akui win the WBA title on this undercard, and two more might go vacant if and when Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez officially goes back to 115.
Whatever Teraji does next, it will be must-see TV, as he’s become one of the elite most reliable action fighters in boxing today.