At the Gimnasio del Polideportivo in Mexicali, Mexico, a battle of former world champions saw Hekkie Budler (34-4, 10 KOs) revive his career with an upset twelve round unanimous decision over big puncher and heavily favored Elwin Soto (19-3, 13 KOs).
Budler used his boxing ability and movement to create problems for Soto, who was unable to land his signature power shots. The South African veteran was able to pile up points landing fast shots and staying on the move at all times.
The decisive moment came in the twelfth and final round, when Budler banked a knockdown with a right hand. That proved to be the difference in the scorecards, with all three of the official judges submitting tallies of 114-113.
Their bout was sanctioned as a WBC junior flyweight eliminator. Budler has now placed himself in position for a crack at current WBC world champion Kenshiro Teraji of Japan.
Soto fails to bounce back, after losing his WBO title back in October to Jonathan Gonzalez, who used similar stick and move tactics to secure a split decision win.
Budler was in action for the first time since last May, when he picked up a stay busy decision win - and that was his first bout since a December 2018 knockout loss to WBA champion Hiroto Kyoguchi.