Two former world champions will battle for one more shot at title glory. Mexico’s Elwin “La Pulga” Soto and South African two-weight world champion Hekkie “The Hexecutioner” Budler will collide in a 12-round WBC light flyweight title eliminator this Saturday, June 25, at Palenque Fex in Mexicali, Mexico.
Soto hails from San Felipe, a two-hour drive from Mexicali, and will have the home crowd advantage. Budler, from Johannesburg, is a 34-year-old veteran who will be making only his third career appearance in North America.
Soto-Budler tops a loaded night of fights streaming live and exclusively in the U.S. on ESPN+ at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
Soto (19-2, 13 KOs) won the WBO light flyweight title in June 2019 with a come-from-behind 12th-round stoppage over Angel “Tito” Acosta. He successfully defended that belt four times over the next two years, finally losing his belt last October to Jonathan Gonzalez by split decision. He has not fought since the Gonzalez defeat and hopes a win over Budler will earn him a shot at WBC world champion Kenshiro Teraji.
Budler (33-4, 10 KOs) has been 12 rounds 17 times and won the WBA 105-pound title in March 2014 when he stopped Karluis Diaz in one round. He defended that belt four times before losing a tight decision to Byron Rojas. In May 2018, Budler edged Ryoichi Taguchi by decision to win the WBA, IBF and Ring Magazine 108-pound titles. His reign as the top 108-pounder lasted a little more than seven months. After taking a little more than two years off, Budler returned last May in Johannesburg and won the WBC Silver light flyweight belt with a unanimous decision over Jonathan Almacen.
“I am going against a great fighter, very strong, but I've come a long way away because I am convinced that I'm going to win and I'm going to ruin the party, I am a warrior in the ring and I come with excellent preparation because I want to earn the right to compete for the WBC world championship,” Budler said.
“I've come to the patio of his house because I know I am going to win, nobody is going to take away the pleasure of being world champion again, I already was [a champion] and I liked it and I want to repeat that feeling, and if I have to come to the home of Soto, whom I respect and know of his quality, well, we will do it and give a great fight in which the big winner will be the public.
“Soto is a very strong, brave fighter, but we know what we have to do to overcome him. I fully trust the judges commissioned by the World Boxing Council for this fight, and I know that in the end I will win."