By Mesuli Zifo
Fresh from his elevation as the full WBA minimumweight champion Hekkie Budler will step into the ring to defend his newly acquired title as well as his IBO crown against Karluis Diaz from Colombia at Emperors Palace on February 15.
Budler has just been anointed as the full champion after Japanese Ryo Miyazaki relinquished the crown to move up to the junior flyweight division.
The 25-year-old diminutive boxer who goes by the “Hexecutioner”moniker captured the WBA interim belt last November with a four round destruction of Argentinian Hugo Verchelli at Emperors Palace.
Owing to the WBA policy which stipulates that should a full champion abdicate the throne an interim champion will be installed as the full champion, Budler has seen his stock rise without battling for the title in the ring.
Now he will get a chance to prove his worth as not only the WBA king but as the top rated minimum-weight boxer in the world.
“This could not have come at a better time for Hekkie to show that he is the best mini-flyweight boxer in the world,” said Rodney Berman who will stage the fight under his Golden Gloves Promotion (GGP) banner.
“Hekkie has now moved into the select few boxers who held the WBA title which includes such legends as Gerrie Coetzee, Piet Crous, Peter Mathebula, Dingaan Thobela and the rest.”
Indeed Budler becomes only the second boxer in the country currently holding the oldest world body with the other being Eastern Cape boxer Simpiwe Vetyeka.
The 26-year-old Colombian is the WBA Fedelatin champion having suffered his four defeats in 25 fights in championships bouts including a loss to Alberto Rossel for the WBA interim junior flyweight title in 2012.
Diaz also came short in a WBC silver title challenge to Pedro Guevara (KO 3 by) and and former IBF champion Mario Rodriguez (KO1 by) in a NABF title shot and Jose Rodriguez (TKO7 by) in a WBC Youth Intercontinental junior flyweight crown.
Budler's fight record spots only one defeat in 25 fights when he suffered a controversial split decision loss to Gideon Buthelezi in an IBO junior flyweight title clash.
Interestingly like Vetyeka who is a dual champion owing to his IBO and WBA title reigns, Budler is also a unified champion as he also holds the IBO crown.
The tournament dubbed “African Explosion” will see two other potentially explosive bouts involving boxers from the African continent.
Fast rising Ryno Liebenberg will swing back to action when he faces Joey Vegas from Uganda but now based in England in a WBC light heavyweight title challenge.
The unbeaten Liebenberg is quickly establishing himself as a world player and was even considered to replace Thomas Oosthuizen when he pulled out of his clash against Canadian-based Colombian Eleider Alvarez in a January 18 clash in Montreal.
The Ugandan has mixed it with the best in the light heavyweight division having shared the ring with the likes of Nathan Cleverly who recently withdrew from his cruiserweight clash against Ilunga Makabu and Dmytro Kucher who lost his unbeaten fight record to Makabu in Monaco last July. Vegas also lost to Colombian Edison Miranda.
The bill will also see Johnny Muller vying for the WBC light heavyweight silver international belt against Namibian Wilberfoce Shihepo.Tags: Hekkie Budler