Nick Gordon
2 minute read
23 Jun 2014
6:00 am

Hekkie growing in stature

Nick Gordon

For most of Hekkie Budler's career as a professional boxer he has never really been thought of as a power puncher.

A triumphant Hekkie Budler of South Africa celebrates after knocking out Colombian Karlius Diaz in the first round at Emperors Palace in Kempton Park, east of Johannesburg on Saturday, 1 March 2014. Picture: Jacques Cato/SAPA

But that perception is beginning to change, especially after the diminutive fighter, above, recorded a third straight stoppage win this weekend as he successfully defended his WBA and IBO minimum-weight world title belts in Monte Carlo.

Fighting outside of South Africa for the first time since 2010, the champion was pitted against Pigmy Kokietgym of Thailand as part of the “KO at the Casino” bill put together by Golden Gloves in the principality.

With Prince Albert in attendance as part of the ringside crowd, Budler had no problems against the challenger – ranked No 8 by the World Boxing Association – and went about wearing him down from the opening bell with his attack to the body particularly effective.

After a relatively sedate start, the champion began applying the pressure from the beginning of the fourth round and he managed to score a knockdown as Kokietgym’s glove touched the canvas close to the bell.

Kokietgym had come into the bout as the more experienced boxer, having featured in 60 fights, but the fact that most of them have been six-round encounters began to show as the fight headed for the midway mark.

Budler wore down his challenger well with body shots and scored another knockdown at the beginning of the eighth round with a shot to the midriff and it became clear that Kokietgym was beginning to wilt under the pressure.

The Thai fighter was dropped again with a body shot in the eighth round and failed to respond to the count with the official time of the stoppage coming at a little over a minute into the eighth.

Another South African formed part of the undercard as Johnny Muller got proceedings started in an international light-heavyweight contest scheduled for 10 rounds against DRC-born, French-based Doudou Ngumbu.

An accidental headbutt in the first round meant that Muller spent the fight sporting a nasty cut just above his left eye and he was eventually outpointed after a sluggish showing in what was his first real contest at international level.

The official scorecard read 96-94, 99-91 and 97-93 in favour of the eventual winner Ngumbu.