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Daigo Higa, Kenshiro Terachi seek to impress in first title defenses

by Kaz Nagatsuka

Staff Writer

World champions Daigo Higa and Kenshiro Terachi said that they would not enter the ring to fight for knockouts.

Instead, they plan to win in dominant fashion in their first world title defenses.

Speaking at signing ceremonies and a news conference for their upcoming bouts at a Tokyo hotel on Thursday, both champions expressed confidence that they would earn victories in their Sunday fights at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

The two bouts are on undercard of the WBA middleweight title rematch between champion Hassan N’Dame and Ryota Murata.

Higa and Terachi claimed the WBC flyweight and WBC light flyweight titles, respectively, on May 20 in Tokyo.

Higa (13-0, 13 KOs), a native of Urasoe, Okinawa Prefecture, became the first world champion from the southern prefecture in 25 years when he defeated Mexico’s Juan Hernandez five months ago. The 22-year-old said that he wants to showcase an aggressive style of boxing, just like the past champs from his hometown, against his challenger and No. 5-ranked boxer Thomas Masson of France (17-3-1, five KOs).

“Hopefully, I will be able to touch the hearts of my fellow citizens in Okinawa Prefecture with my fight,” said Higa, who trains at Shirai Gushiken Sport Gym, where the chairman is legendary Okinawan former world champ Yoko Gushiken.

Terachi (10-0, five KOs) said that he trained and successfully lost weight as scheduled. He added jokingly that he would like to relax the next day, going out “to watch a movie or do some shopping.”

But the native of Joyo, Kyoto Prefecture, commented that he would fight like a champion against opponent Pedro Guevara (30-2-1, 17 KOs), who previously held the title and came to Japan as the top contender.

“I want to overwhelm my opponent like a champion,” Terachi, 25, said. “I know that (Guevara) is a former champion and is a tough opponent, but I am the present champion. It will be me that wins.”

Guevara said through an interpreter: “I think the key for the victory will be the will to win. My will is as strong as anyone else’s.”

Higa, known as a phenomenal hard puncher, has ended all of his fights with knockouts. That dynamic style has become his signature.

In fact, Higa is getting closer to “the Japanese record” for posting consecutive KO wins (15) that is held by former WBC super lightweight champion Tsuyoshi Hamada.

“Earlier in my career, I was thinking that as long as I’d win, I’d be fine,” Higa said. “But as I kept winning and my training got harder and harder, I started thinking that I would not be satisfied to win by decisions.

“But I don’t like to throw big blows aiming to take my opponent down. Hopefully, I can knock (Masson) out fighting as hard as I can.”

Masson responded by saying, “I don’t particularly feel anything looking at his past results. I’m a different boxer from other ones that he’s taken on. I just want to prove that in the fight.”

Terachi was on the same page as Higa. He said that it would be great to win by KO, but “would not rush to try to do so.”