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Kenshiro Teraji Beats Canizales By Disputable MD, Yuri Akui Defeats Dalakian To Claim WBA Title And Nasukawa Grabs 1st KO Victory

Kenshiro Teraji Beats Canizales By Disputable MD, Yuri Akui Dominates Dalakian To Claim WBA Title And Nasukawa Grabs 1st KO Victory featured image
Kenshiro Teraji defeated Carlos Canizales by majority decision (MD), edging out in what was an extremely close and controversial match given the result. (Photo credit should read TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP via Getty Images)

Tuesday’s boxing event headlined by Japanese champion Kenshiro Teraji and Venezuelan challenger Carlos Canizales saw arguably one of the best fights of the year occur at the Edion Arena in Osaka, Japan. Teraji successfully defended his WBA and WBC junior flyweight titles but faced a tough and worthy opponent in Canizales who may have done enough to grab the win himself. The card, held on January 23rd, also saw boxing novice and former kickboxing star Tenshin Nasukawa win by stoppage for the first time of his young career, while Seigo Yuri Akui became the new WBA flyweight champion after defeating former incumbent champion Artem Dalakian after twelve rounds.

The match between Kenshiro Teraji (23-1, 14 KO’s) and Carlos Canizales (26-2-1, 19 KO’s) was a highly competitive bout that clearly was too close to call. Both fighters put up a tremendous performance over twelve rounds, and both Teraji and Canizales suffered a knockdown to make their bout even more tightly contested.

During the first round, Canizales appeared to win the round through primarily his jab, utilizing with devastating effect that left Teraji thinking twice. Both fighters were more active during this round than anticipated but it was Canizales that seemed to edge out through efficiency.

The second round was clearly won by Teraji who countered well during the last minute of the round and dropped Canizales with a right hook to the temple after catching a blow from Canizales himself. Prior to the knockdown, Teraji had been successfully pressuring Canizales and the Venezuelan’s jab no longer proved to be as effective as the first. While Canizales’ reaction to Teraji’s hook came late, the Venezuelan eventually fell down to hold onto Teraji but ended up falling to the ground instead which sent both fighters falling. It was apparent, however, that Canizales suffered a knockdown during this instance and the referee justly ruled it as such.

The third round saw another knockdown occur; this time by Canizales who managed to catch Teraji with a right hook that forced Teraji to his knees. The knockdown was quick and not as damaging as Teraji’s own from the previous round, but the Japanese champion clearly dropped to the ground on one knee despite getting up before a proper count could be initiated.

From round four to nine, both Teraji and Canizales appeared to grab two rounds each while two rounds appeared to be swing rounds. It should be noted that the two were highly competitive during these six rounds, with neither fighter truly breaking out as the clear winner and both adapting to their opponents several times.

Kenshiro Teraji Beats Canizales By Disputable MD, Yuri Akui Dominates Dalakian To Claim WBA Title And Nasukawa Grabs 1st KO Victory image 1
Japan’s Kenshiro Teraji (L) and Venezuela’s Carlos Canizales fight during their WBA and WBC light flyweight title bout in Osaka on January 23, 2024. (Photo by JIJI Press / AFP) / Japan OUT (Photo by STR/JIJI Press/AFP via Getty Images)

As the two entered the championship rounds starting from the tenth round, it was still unclear who was in the lead and as the championships rounds (ten to twelve) are considered the most important rounds in a match, it seemed as if Canizales had done enough to take them all.

The championship rounds favored Canizales as he unleashed in the last minute of those rounds to presumably narrowly win the rounds; as was mostly evident by the tenth round which saw Canizales corner Teraji. Much of the same occurred in the eleventh where although both fighters seemed evenly-matched, Canizales seemed to have extra spurts of energy to take the round by a hairbreadth.

The last round was likely the least competitive but Canizales also seemed to take that round, again in the last minute. Though not a lot of punches were landed during this round, Teraji was clearly on the defensive in the closing minute and stooped to holding Canizales when he came forward a few times and even turned his back at soe point which is indicative of how a fighter reacts when they’re taking too much damage or the opponent turns out to be too fierce.

The judges saw the match different and ruled Kenshiro Teraji as the winner by majority decision (MD) with scores of 113-113 and 114-112 twice, resulting in the Japanese junior flyweight champion retaining his WBA and WBC titles after what was clearly one of the toughest matches he ever had.

Canizales might be itching for a rematch as he narrowly missed out on becoming the WBA and WBC junior flyweight champion, though it is unknown whether he has had a rematch clause in his contract. Despite the MD loss, Canizales proved himself worthy of another chance for a world title; whether against Teraji or any of the two other world champions that currently remain in the division.

Carlos Canizales still carries the credentials of a world champion following his three-year reign as the WBA junior flyweight champion from 2018 to 2021 before a loss to Esteban Bermudez ended his championship run.

Another twelve-round title match was featured on the card between WBA flyweight champion Artem Dalakian (22-1, 15 KO’s) from Ukraine and Japanese challenger Seigo Yuri Akui (19-2-1, 11 KO’s). Despite Akui’s underdog status, the Japanese contender put up a surprisingly efficient performance to win his match by unanimous decision (UD) with scores of 116-112, 119-109 and 117-111. Akui became the new WBA flyweight champion as a result, though the match was a lot closer than the scorecards indicated and despite a rough start, Dalakian’s performance did not warrant the lopsided scores that appeared.

Kenshiro Teraji Beats Canizales By Disputable MD, Yuri Akui Dominates Dalakian To Claim WBA Title And Nasukawa Grabs 1st KO Victory image 2
Japan’s Seigo Yuri Akui (L) and Ukraine’s Artem Dalakian fight during the WBA flyweight title bout in Osaka on January 23, 2024. (Photo by JIJI Press / AFP) / Japan OUT (Photo by STR/JIJI Press/AFP via Getty Images)

Japanese former kickboxing star Tenshin Nasukawa (3-0, 1 KO’s) also impressed in just his third professional boxing fight against the more experienced Luis Robles (15-3-1, 5 KO’s) from Mexico as the two competed at super bantamweight for what should have been eight rounds but ended in just three as the match ended up being stopped in the third round by Robles’ corner.

It was unclear what led to the stoppage but it appeared that Robles suffered an injury to one of his legs or foots which forced the corner to concede, resulting in Nasukawa to win by corner retirement and thus allowing him to grab his first KO victory. Prior to the corner retirement, Nasukawa had clearly been winning all the three of the previous rounds.

The event was promoted and organized by Teiken Promotions, the most prevalent Japanese promotion at the moment to which household names such as Naoya Inoue are signed to. For viewers outside of Japan, the event was further broadcasted on ESPN and all its associated affiliates.