By Ron Jackson
IBO strawweight champion Hekkie Budler from Brixton on the West Rand faces the toughest test of boxing career when he defends his belt against the more experienced number three ranked Nkosinathi Joyi of Mdantsane, Eastern Cape, at Emperors Palace near Kempton Park on Saturday night. The tournament is presented by Rodney Berman of Golden Gloves Promotions. This is one of the most eagerly awaited and highly paid fights amongst smaller men in South Africa in recent years.
The 30-year-old Joyi who made his pro debut on April 22, 2002 has a record of 23 wins, 1 loss and 1 no contest, winning 16 fights inside the distance and has fought at higher level than the champion.
Joyi who is trained by Lennox Mpulampula is a former IBO strawweight champion and has held the more prestigious IBF strawweight belt.
Joyi who fights from the southpaw stance won the vacant South African mini flyweight title on April 24, 2004 in only his ninth fight when he stopped Mzikayise Foslare in 92 seconds of the first round.
After making six successful defences of the title he relinquished it after winning the vacant IBO strawweight belt in November 2006 with a second round knockout against Armando de la Cruz at Emperors Palace.
He made three defences of the IBO belt before relinquishing it to fight in an IBF eliminator against the highly rated Florante Condes from the Philippines in June 2009, winning on points over 12 rounds.
Nine months later he beat another top rated opponent in Raul Garcia of Mexico to win the IBF belt.
However, after these two outstanding victories his career stuttered along with only another four fights in the next three years and three months.
After a no contest and points victory over Katsunari Takayama he lost the belt on a seventh round knockout against the very ordinary Mario Rodriguez in very trying and extremely hot conditions in Mexico.
The 25-year-old Budler who was an outstanding amateur made his pro debut in July 2007 and on February 27, 2010 won the vacant IBO junior flyweight belt with a points victory over Juanito Rubillar.
After a successful defence in a return match with Rubillar he lost the belt to fellow South African Gideon Buthelezi on a split decision.
Dropping down a division he beat another Filipino, Michael Landero to win the vacant IBO strawweight belt and has made successful defences against Florante Condes and Renan Trongco to take his record to 23-1; 6.
Budler who is ranked at number seven by Ring magazine and trained by Colin Nathan has all the odds stacked against him going into the fight against a southpaw. Joyi will have height and reach advantages and also is more experienced at world level.
Joyi ranked at number three by Ring magazine has big power in his southpaw left hand whereas Budler has very little power in either hand and has only won one of his last fights inside the distance.
Both fighters come in tight at the strawweight limit of 47.63kg, with Budler having youth in his favour together with courage and a fighting heart.
We don’t know how the seventh round knockout loss in Mexico has affected Joyi who was rated pound-for-pound as the best strawweight in the world for a long period, and also can he still make the strawweight limit comfortably at the age of 30 and eleven years in the professional ring.
One of the top referees in the world Stan Christodoulou will be the third man in the ring and the judges are Arthur Ellensohn (Germany), Reg Thompson (United Kingdom) and Tony Nyangiwe (South Africa).
In the main supporting bout in a battle of 26-year-olds South Africa’s Gideon Buthezi 13-3; 4 defends his IBO junior bantamweight belt against Edrin Dapudong 28-5; 16 from the Philippines in a return match after his highly disputed split decision win for the vacant belt in November last year at Emperors Palace.
In another return match the 29-year-old Ryno Liebenberg 11-0; 8 defends his IBO All-Africa light heavyweight title against the 22-year-old former South African light heavyweight champion Johnny Muller 13-2-2; 10.
In their first match in September 2012 Liebenberg had to come back from a second round knockdown to stop Muller in the ninth round in a clash for the vacant belt.
In the opening bout of the evening Learato Ngole and Thabang Ramgole meet over six rounds at junior flyweight.
Unbeaten young junior welterweight prospect Paul Kamanga takes on Takalani Dangala over eight rounds.