Nick Gordon
2 minute read
8 Nov 2013
6:00 am

Stepping-stone for SA’s Budler

Nick Gordon

The last time Hekkie Budler stepped into the ring at Emperors Palace, he produced the performance of his career in a showing that underlined his abilities as a boxer.

FILE PICTURE: Hekkie Budler. Picture: Neil McCartney.

The bout against Nkosinathi Joyi back in June threatened to be a catalyst in the career of the IBO minimumweight champion and ignited talks of unifying boxing’s smallest division.

This weekend Budler steps under the bright lights at the same venue, one that’s become something of a second home for him, when he defends his championship belt against Argentina’s Hugo Verchelli.

It was hoped that a unification bout with Xiong Zhao Zhong, who holds the WBC title, would materialise but the Chinese fighter apparently turned it down and instead Budler is now faced with going through the WBA to earn a shot at another world crown.

Tomorrow’s bout will also see the WBA interim title on the line with the belt essentially guaranteeing Budler the No 1 spot in the organisation’s ratings and a future shot at the title proper which is currently held by Ryo Miyazaki.

At the moment the diminutive fighter occupies third spot while Verchelli is eighth on the list.

“I don’t think any fight at this level is a step down – specifically with regards to what is on the line and the higher rating,” Colin Nathan, who hones Budler’s skills, said when asked whether Verchelli was near the calibre of Joyi.

“Every fight for us is a chance to prove we’re one of the best in the division. We’ve trained just as hard for this fight as we did for the Joyi fight,” he added.

Nathan added that this route was chosen given that WBA world champion Miyazaki is struggling to maintain his weight to fight in the division.

“We’d like to unify the division but due to the nature of boxing politics it might not be possible,” he said.

“Miyazaki is battling with weight and will probably vacate, which sets Hekkie up to become a unified champion.”