There is a Japanese proverb, known as the Yojijukugo (弱肉強食). This translates as “The weak are meat; the strong eat.” In other words, “survival of the fittest”. That is the precisely the tradition of boxing in Japan. Promoters are not afraid to throw their young fighters in tough bouts in early stages of their pro careers and Ken Shiro is a by-product of that East Asian philosophy.
Background – Humble Beginnings
Kenshiro Teraji is the full name and shares the same name as the popular character Kenshiro from the famous manga (comic books) series Fist of the North Star. Hailing from the capital city Kyoto of the Kyoto Prefecture in the Kansai region of Japan, he followed in the footsteps of his father Hisashi Teraji, a former OPBF light heavyweight champion. So boxing is in his blood and the seed was planted from an early age, and has now come to fruition.
He amassed a respectable amateur record of 55-26 and swiftly made the transition to the paid ranks in August 2014 at the age of 22.
A common fixture on the undercards of fellow Japanese stars Ryota Murata and Naoya Inoue, the fresh, baby-faced, Ken Shiro known as “The Amazing Boy” is also slowly amassing a fan-base of his own. Ken Shiro has been a break-out star in his own right, operating in the light flyweight division. He is the current WBC light flyweight titlist and has accumulated a record of 16-0, with 9 KO’s. In his very short career, he has already had 7 world title fights where he has 4 wins against current/former world titlists.
Fast-tracked like many of his countrymen, Ken Shiro is destined for greater things.
Highly skilled, a sharp-shooter, and an excellent head hunter are just some of his attributes. There was fanfare and attention before his anticipated pro-debut, and you can see why. In his varied style, his modus operandi is to commence his work by the use of his accurate and acute jab. The jab lands with impeccable timing, countless times to open up the guard. In his sixth defence vs. Filipino Jonathan Taconing it was a deadly but short and sneaky right that ended the fight. Ken Shiro relies on the counter right amongst his repertoire of skills to complete the job.
In terms of movement his feet are like springs, very agile on his feet, as he is always coming forward. However, an observation I’ve made is that in his recent fights, his guard is around his chest to mid-level stomach. This opens him up for the big shot. Taconing, who ultimately was knocked out early, had great success with the straight left hand. He would need to tighten up that defence when he moves up a notch in level against fellow champions.
Surprisingly Ken Shiro doesn’t employ much bodywork like conventional Japanese fighters, where their bread butter is to attack the body, ala Inoue. Ken is primarily a head hunter, a similarity he shares with light heavy belt-holder Dmitry Bivol. Bivol, on the other hand, can fight on the back foot with a good gauge on distance, a weakness on Ken Shiro’s part. Against the rugged and tough cookie Milan Melindo, he kept trying the 1-2. It’s only when he had his opponent hurt that he put the foot on the pedal and accelerated by unloading a flurry of shots. By the end of round 7, Melindo’s eye was in such a shocking state, the referee called a halt to the fight.
In his weight class, there is also a rising world titlist in Hiroto Kyoguchi (WBA and Ring Magazine), who is coming off a top win against Hekkie Budler. That’s a mouth-watering clash of two young and undefeated Japanese boxers in their primes. An unknown entity is Mexico’s Elwin Soto, who recently pulled a stunning upset in the 12th round against Angel Acosta under controversial circumstances to become the WBO champion. More than likely there will be a rematch. Finally, from Nicaragua is Felix Alvarado, the IBF champion.
There are plenty of unifications there to be made for young Ken Shiro, as well as the prospect moving up to the stacked flyweight division where there are a whole host of names, such as the tall Azerbaijani-born Ukrainian boxer of Armenian descent in Artem Dalakian, and yet another Japanese star, Kosei Tanaka (three-division world titlist).