The rise and rise of Budler

2014-03-09 14:00

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Hekkie “The Hex” Budler has proved his critics wrong by successfully defending his two world championship belts.

Budler silenced his detractors last weekend – knocking out Karluis Diaz of Colombia in the first round at Emperors Palace, east of Joburg.

His trainer, Colin Nathan, says the game plan was to ­rubber-stamp his charge’s dominance among the smallest combatants – and it worked.

The 25-year-old Budler is two titles away from equalling South Africa’s most celebrated boxer, the late Jacob “Baby Jake” Matlala, who won four world titles.

Matlala fought in the light flyweight division, one up from Budler’s minimumweight.

“Baby Jake was one of my heroes as a fighter. He was so kind in that he did not mind giving advice,” said the dual world champion.

Budler, an International Boxing Organisation (IBO) and World Boxing Association (WBA) minimumweight titleholder, believes all he has to do in the short term is defend his belts.

While South African pugilists are notorious for darting from one camp to the other, Budler has been with Nathan and Golden Gloves Promotions since turning pro in 2007.

He said: “Loyalty is important to me. Why must I leave a winning team? Colin is more like a brother to me and Golden Gloves has helped me get to where I am today.”

Budler’s father, Hekkie Sr, is his son’s number one fan.

The former IBO light flyweight king believes making it without his father’s support would have been impossible.

He also plans to tie the knot in November to his longtime partner – Roxy Palm – his number two fan.

The two are deeply in love.

Budler proposed in the ring, live on TV, immediately after last week’s convincing victory.

His camp has no interest to campaign in other world sanctioning bodies for now.

According to Nathan, the dirty politics of the sport were to blame for this ­apathy.

“It was never easy to unify world titles. It’s expensive and the politics of boxing is not helping either.”

“Our mission is to get Budler to the top 10 pound for pound in all weight divisions in the world.”

Budler is currently ranked number one in the minimumweight worldwide by the respected boxing magazine, The Ring.

He is due to fight on June 21 in Monte Carlo – his first contest outside of South Africa since 2010.

Weighing in

Are SA boxers only good in the lighter divisions?

.Jacob “Baby Jake” Matlala: In a boxing career spanning more than 20 years, Matlala boxed in the light flyweight and flyweight divisions, and went on to become a four-time world champion.

.Masibulele “Hawk” Makepula: Former WBU and WBO light flyweight champion and IBO flyweight champion.

He failed to crack it in the heavier superflyweight division.

.Zolile Mbityi: The 43-year-old campaigned successfully as an IBO flyweight champion, but his boxing career faded when he went up to compete in the superflyweight division.

.Moruti Mthalane: Has fought in the flyweight division all his career.

He is the ex-IBF flyweight champion.

.Hekkie Budler: Started his career in the light flyweight division until suffering his only loss to Gideon Buthelezi in 2011.

Budler then dropped to the minimumweight division, which earned him the two world titles he currently holds.

.Zolani Petelo: Unbeaten as the IBF minimumweight champion and defended it five times.

His move to the light flyweight division resulted in three successive defeats before hanging up his gloves in 2005.

.Vuyani Bungu: Showcased his talent in the superbantamweight division and defended the IBF superbantamweight title a record-breaking 13 times before vacating it in 2000 to move up to featherweight.

He struggled in that division, losing two consecutive world-title fights.

.Welcome Ncita: Unbeaten as the South African flyweight champion in the 1980s and

went on to win the IBF superbantamweight title - having skipped two divisions.

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