There was never a second thought when it came time to pursue a title challenge versus Kenshiro Teraji.

In fact, Hekkie Budler would have already cleared this fight off his plate if he had his way.

The former two-division champ agreed to stand down for one fight, as Teraji (21-1, 13KOs) originally planned to further unify the 108-pound crown. It didn’t quite work out, as WBO junior flyweight titlist Jonathan ‘Bomba’ Gonzalez fell ill and withdrew from their April 8 three-belt unification bout at Ariake Arena in Tokyo.

Teraji went on to face and beat late replacement Anthony Olascuaga via ninth-round knockout, while his team still had to pay a step-aside fee to Budler as the outstanding WBC mandatory challenger. The lineal and unified WBA/WBC junior flyweight champion is an overwhelming -1000 favorite according to bet365 sportsbook to prevail in their September 18 meeting at Ariake Arena.

The odds are precisely in line with the uphill battle that Budler not only expected but demanded.

“It’s just an honor to fight someone that good, the chance to beat a great fighter like him. That’s what motivates me,” Budler told “I want to fight the best guys in the division. I always want to challenge myself. I view Kenshiro as the best guy in the division, hands down. I’m stoked to fight him.”

South Africa’s Budler (35-4, 11KOs) boasts a combined 6-3 record in title fights spanning two weight divisions. He enjoyed greater success at strawweight but his best win came at junior flyweight when he edged unified IBF/WBA champ Ryoichi Taguchi in their May 2018 clash in Tokyo. His reign was short-lived, as he suffered a tenth-round stoppage to unbeaten Hiroto Kyoguchi later that New Year’s Eve in Macao, China.

Three wins have followed, including a twelve-round decision over former WBO titlist Elwin Soto in their WBC title eliminator last June 25 on the road in Mexicali, Mexico.

Teraji went on to unify the WBC and WBA belts in a one-sided, seventh-round stoppage of Kyoguchi last November 1 in Saitama, Japan. The win re-established divisional championship lineage and solidified the 31-year-old Kyoto native’s place as the king of the junior flyweights.

“Make no mistake, it’s going to be a hard, grueling fight,” admitted the 35-year-old Budler. “He can hit, he can move. He’s got devastating power in both hands. He can do everything well. It’s going to be a hard, tough fight but I’m going to enjoy it. I love testing myself. Honestly, he’s probably the best fighter I will have ever faced.

“I have fought some very good guys over the years. I’ve beaten some great fighters they didn’t expect me to. I’ve lost to some fighters I feel l should have beaten. But he’s the best I will have faced, especially for where he’s at in the stage of his career. He’s probably at his pinnacle. He’s at the best part of his career.”

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox