Johannesburg – A unification fight is on the cards for the winner of the IBO minimumweight title bout between defending champion Hekkie Budler and former IBF champion Nkosinathi Joyi on Saturday.
“Negotiations are already underway for such an eventuality, with the WBC and IBF champions mooted as possible opponents against whoever emerges as the IBO champion on Saturday night,” Golden Gloves promoter Rodney Berman said on Tuesday.
Joyi's manager-trainer Sipatho Handi proclaimed it was in effect “sealed and signed” who would be in line for any future unification contest.
“This is the wrong fight at the wrong time for Hekkie Budler,” he said.
“We won't underestimate him because of his courage and grit, but he is simply not in the same class.”
Handi also dismissed claims that Budler would have an advantage at Emperors Palace, where most of his fights had been staged.
“Nkosinathi is in the same mould as soccer giants Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates and can boast a massive following wherever he goes in the country,” he said.
Budler's trainer Colin Nathan responded that “talk is cheap”.
“Hekkie is in the best shape of his career. This is a fight he has dreamt about for years, and is doing everything possible to provide the best performance of his career.”
Boxing fans had been longing to see two South Africans fight, and at one stage believed it would never materialise because of rifts between the rival promoters controlling their affairs.
Joyi was considered South Africa's number one, pound-for-pound fighter for years before he surrendered his IBF title last year in a defeat against Mexico's Mario Rodriguez,
He was at one stage ranked the number one strawweight boxer in the world by Ring Magazine, and currently occupies third place. Budler is in seventh position in Ring's rankings.
“Nkosinathi Joyi was my hero,” said an excited Budler.
“I will go into the ring as the underdog, but will do my damn best, and I truly believe that with all the effort I have put into training for this fight, I can beat him as well.”
Between them, Joyi and Budler had fought 45 times, with each suffering a single defeat.
“Hekkie has a mountain to climb,” said Nathan.
“But we are working on a blueprint to beat Joyi. It has happened in the past and it can happen again.”
Heading the undercard on Saturday is a match-up between South Africa's IBO junior bantamweight champion Gideon Buthelezi and Filipino Edrin Dapudong.