Kenshiro Teraji still on the hunt for undisputed, willing to travel for Bam Rodriguez clash

Kenshiro Teraji, who faces top contender Carlos Canizales on January 23 in Tokyo, is one of the best fighters in the world today: 5 ft-4 ½ ins tall, 108 pounds of light flyweight fire.

Teraji (22-1, 14 KOs) is the reigning WBA, WBC and Ring Magazine champion. The Japanese star has beaten every fighter he’s ever faced, having avenged a Covid-related setback to compatriot Masamichi Yabuki in 2021 via shuddering third-round knockout.

In his most recent outing, in September, Teraji scored an impressive ninth-round stoppage of former two-weight world champion Hekkie Budler. The champ’s home fans were treated to the usual eye-popping punch variety and blistering speed.

“I thought it was a good performance,” Teraji told The Sporting News through Masa Ueda. “Budler used his footwork well, which made it hard to end the fight.

“It was easier for me to fight inside with him because he didn’t have a strong punch like Anthony Olascuaga did, but both were tough opponents.”

WATCH: Kenshiro Teraji vs. Carlos Canizales, exclusively on ESPN+

Canizales (26-1-1, 19 KOs) is yet another quality fighter that Teraji must dispatch if he is to continue his march to greatness. The Venezuelan challenger is rated No. 8 in The Sporting News light flyweight ratings, and he’s coming off a win over the highly touted Daniel Matellon.

“I’m excited for this fight; he’s also a tough opponent,” said Teraji, who will be contesting his 15th world title bout. “He has strong hands and can use his footwork very skillfully. But I feel I am better than him whatever he brings.”

Kenshiro Teraji working the heavy bag for Carlos Canizales fight

Naoki Fukuda

It’s no secret that Teraji has been trying hard to secure unification matchups. His goal is to become the first undisputed light flyweight champion in boxing history.

However, Teraji’s WBO counterpart Jonathan Gonzalez pulled out of a fight last year due to illness, and the IBF title recently changed hands when Adrian Curiel upset Sivenathi Nontshinga. They will fight a rematch on February 16.

If unification bouts continue to prove elusive, then Teraji is more than willing to move up to 112 pounds and face new unified flyweight champ Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez. “Bam” is coming off a sensational stoppage win over the previously unbeaten IBF champ Sunny Edwards in December.

Fully focussed on Canizales, the 32-year-old Teraji was reticent to go into detail on a “Bam” fight. However, “The Amazing Boy” did make it clear that he’s willing to cross the Pacific Ocean for what would be his U.S. debut.

“At this point, I can’t imagine how the [Rodriguez] fight will look,” said Teraji. “If they want me to fight outside of Japan, I’ll be happy to fight anywhere.

“I do want to be an undisputed champion but moving up a division looks interesting as well. If I can’t get the fights to become undisputed, I may move up. I want to collect as many belts as possible.”

WATCH: Kenshiro Teraji vs. Carlos Canizales, exclusively on ESPN+

Speaking of belts, Teraji’s countryman Naoya Inoue added another two straps to his collection when he scored a 10th-round knockout over tough Filipino Marlon Tapales in December. A source of inspiration for Teraji, Inoue became the undisputed super bantamweight champion with the victory.

“Tapales seemed like he was fighting to not get knocked out,” offered Teraji. “I guess Inoue is that good.”

With Inoue, Teraji, Kazuto Ioka, Junto Nakatani, and the Shigeoka brothers (Yudai and Ginjiro) all hovering at elite level, Japanese boxing is just “that good” – period.

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