Emperors Palace in Gauteng, South Africa. - unknown and massive underdog Nicaraguan Byron Rojas (16-2-3, 8 KOs) pulled off a stunning upset of WBA minimumweight “super” champion and IBO minumweight champion Hekkie Budler (29-2, 9 KOs). All three judges had it 115-113.
Rojas beat Budler to the punch time after time, his fast, accurate punches doing a world of wonder against the out-of-sorts South African who was unable to find his rhythm. Budler is best when he dictates the pace, but Rojas’ swarming style stopped him at every turn.
The champion was also banged up more than usual and twice, in the second and fifth rounds, he was examined by the ringside doctor.
The pair set a furious pace from the off and from early on it was obvious that Rojas was in town to do a job. His movement and punch selection was world class and he refused to be cowed by an Emperors Palace crowd that roared on his opponent.
The fact that Budler’s title was slipping away was evident through the middle rounds. Indeed, in the ninth round promoter Rodney Berman bellowed “Wake up!” to Budler, who clearly never heard. He took a big pummelling in the 10th, his worst of the fight, and from there it was downhill as Rojas pressed home the advantage.
As the scores were announced, Budler hoisted the new champion in the air, classy to the very end. Their faces told the story: Rojas was practically unmarked; Budler looked as if he had gone to war. In a sense, he had.
Coming into this fight, South Africa’s Budler was making the first defence of his “super” WBA minimumweight belt.
Budler, 27, made five successful defences of his WBA belt and was elevated to super champion by the WBA on January 20 this year to become South Africa’s first super champion.
He won the vacant IBO minimumweight belt on September 24 2011 at Emperors Palace which has become his favourite fight venue, when he outpointed Michael Landero over 12 rounds.
He made nine defences of the IBO belt and was riding high as one of the world's best since losing to Gideon Buthelezi in January 2011.
Very little is known about Rojas, 27, ranked at No 8 by the WBA and 12th by the IBO, and this was his first fight outside his home country.
Rojas made his pro debut in August 2010 and fought to a draw before going unbeaten in his next ten fights, before losing to Luis Rios and Roger Collardo, both on points over six rounds.
Since those defeats he has won 11 fights with one no contest against no recognisable fighters.
In his last four fights he has scored wins against Ricardo Perez (6-1), Jose Aguilar (15-12-4), Julio Mendoza (7-2) and Byron Castellon (7-2-2), who have very ordinary records according to Boxrec.