By MESULI ZIFO
HEKKIE Budler's impressive first round knockout of Colombian Karluis Diaz at Emperors Palace in South Africa this past weekend has boosted the chances of unification clash with the IBF champion Katsunari Takayama.
Talks have been ongoing between the two camps of the strawweight champions but after Budler was elevated from a WBA interim champion to a full champion after the abdication of the crown by Japanese Ryo Miyazaki, the prospect of facing Takayama has increased significantly.
Budler who also holds the IBO crown in the division made his first defence of the newly acquired WBA crown by blasting away Diaz with wicked right hand just before the end of the first round last weekend.
On hearing that Budler had retained his crowns, Takayama immediately sent him a congratulatory note informing him that he was looking forward to the unification clash.
With Takayama willing to fight outside of his country having twice travelled to South Africa where he lost a decision to Budler's victim Nkosinathi Joyi in an IBF title challenge after their first bout was ruled a no contest when Takayama suffered a cut following an accidental headbutt, Budler's promoter Rodney Berman is confident of luring the Japanese back to South Africa.
Takayama has proved to be some sort of a road warrior as he also travelled to Mexico where he relieved Mario Rodriguez of the IBF in March last year.
With Budler occupying the lofty spot in most boxing publication's ratings, Takayama feels a unification clash will vault him to the summit if he wins.
“Takayama and Hekkie have been exchanging words on social networks calling each other and I must admit that the prospect of the fight is alluring,” Berman confirmed.
The fight was originally scheduled to feature in Berman's next tournament in Monte Carlo, Monaco in June.
However Budler has reportedly secured another opponent for the show whose main bout is yet to be announced.
“After Monaco, Budler will face no other fighter but Takayama and we hoping the Japanese will still be a champion then,” Berman confirmed.
Budler who has won his last two bouts by stoppages which is a rare occurrence for a fighter not known as a big puncher having scored only nine wins via the short route in 26 bouts, is fast proving his mettle in the division especially after his career-best win over Joyi.
While he beat Joyi who beat Takayama, Budler will not enter the fight as a favourite due to the Japanese's stick and move style.
Despite his less impressive fight record of six defeats in 33 bouts, the 30-year-old fleet footed Japanese is a technically sound boxer having reigned as the WBA interim champion before and shared the ring with the likes of Roman Gonzalez who beat him on points for the full version of the WBA.