Johannesburg – Veteran Philippines fighter Florante Condes has vowed to bloom again when he finally gets into the ring against Hekkie Budler.
He voiced his intentions at a recent function to herald Golden Gloves' “Last Man Standing” tournament at Emperors Palace on Saturday night.
Condes, 32, withdrew from his previous proposed bout against South African IBO straw weight champion Budler.
Speaking through his English-speaking trainer, Condes said he had now recovered fully from the accident that halted his career and could not wait to cross swords with the tearaway Budler.
A former IBF champion of note, the big question, however, is whether Condes has not seen better days, for while boasting a career record of 25 wins, six defeats and a draw, he has lost three of his last six fights and seen only a minimum amount of action in the past two years.
And it will only become evident on Saturday whether Condes still has the fitness level to match Budler.
The 24 year-old Budler, in contrast, is at the prime of his career with a record of 20 wins from 21 fights and the recent boost of the WBC organisation now rating him as number three challenger for their straw-weight title.
“I've never been in better shape for a fight,” he commented, “but I'm certainly not going to under-estimate an opponent who has achieved what Condes has done in the ring.”
And the sentiments were echoed by trainer Colin Nathan, who said Budler had done everything necessary in preparing for the fight and needed only to place the cherry on the cake with a convincing victory Ä “which I am sure he will achieve”.
Nathan has three fighters on Saturday's five-bout bill and said he is expecting three victories Ä not least of which he declared will be that of Zack Mwekassa in the semi-final cruiserweight contest against Danie Venter, which could emerge as the most engrossing fight of the night.
The other semi-final in the “Last Man Standing” provides Flo Simba with a second chance in a rematch against Thabiso Mchunu, after the original fight was halted controversially in the first round.
Following an appeal by Simba camp trainer Harold Volbrecht, Boxing South Africa declared the result would stand, but ordered a rematch.
“I don't see this as a rematch,” said Mchunu's trainer, Shaun Smith.
“As far as I'm concerned it's more of a mismatch.”
But Simba, who started his career amid blazing fanfare and was touted as a future world champion by Golden Gloves, said he has learnt the hard way from three deflating recent defeats and was ready to place his career “back on track.”
“I'll do my talking in the ring,” he added, “and surprise a lot of people.”
Volbrecht also oozed confidence and claimed that Simba had the most lethal punch of the four “Last Man Standing” boxers, from whom the eventual winner will represent Africa in next year's WBC Continental Cup tournament.
Launching Saturday's programme at 7.30pm will be the WBC junior lightweight international title fight, in which Sipho Taliwe will defend his title against Mzonke Fana.
The full programme:
WBC Junior Lightweight International (12 rounds): Mzonke Fana v Sipho Taliwe.
Cruiserweight: (10 rounds) Flo Simba v Thabiso Mchunu.
Cruiserweight: (10 rounds) Danie Venter v Zack Mwekassa.
IBO Straw-weight title: Hekkie Budler (SA, holder) v Florante Condes (Philippines).
IBO Light Heavyweight All Africa title: Ryno Liebenburg v Johnny Muller.