Budler delivers first round K.O.

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iol spt mar2 Hekkie-Diaz

Independent Newspapers

A lethal Hekkie Budler confirmed his status as the dual WBA and IBO strawweight champion with a stunning first round knock-out victory over bemused Colombian Karluis Diaz at Emperors Palace. Picture: Etienne Rothbart.

Johannesburg – A lethal Hekkie Budler confirmed his status as the dual WBA and IBO strawweight champion with a stunning first round knock-out victory over bemused Colombian Karluis Diaz at Emperors Palace on Saturday night.

With his hair dyed in a blue-purple-pink tinge, the misleadingly diminutive Budler ended the fight prematurely and had Diaz seeing stars with a crunching right overhand punch that might have hit the jackpot on an amusement park test-your-strength apparatus.

Afterwards, Golden Gloves promoter Rodney Berman said he would now attempt to secure the opportunity for Budler to earn the title of a third boxing association at a proposed tournament in Monte Carlo.

“It's a long time since any South African has held the title of three of the associations,” added Berman, “but Hekkie has shown he deserves the chance to add to his accolade as the authoratative Ring Magazine's rating of number one strawweight in the world.”

in another one-round encounter on the six-bout programme, Rayno Liebenberg had veteran Ugandan Joey Vegas on the canvas twice and earned the WBC international light heavyweight title when the referee stopped the one-way contest.

Namibian Wilberforce Shihepo inserted a degree of credibility to the ability of the visiting boxers when he suffered a seemingly unlucky split points decision against Johnny Muller in a bout for the WBC light heavyweight silver title.

Muller finished the gruelling, action-filled contest with blood pouring from cuts over both eyes and his face looking as though it had been through a butcher's meat-grinding machine.

But two of the three judges still saw fit to award the decision in favour of the South African in a brawling contest that had the fighters at times looking as though they were involved in a martial arts contest as they wrestled each other to the canvas.

For all this, Shihepo and Muller can take credit for providing the bulk of action and entertainment on the night in which the other bouts were either too one-sided or mundane.

Asked how he had managed to win the fight, the never-say-die, couragous Muller replied: “A big heart” - to which he might have added the big-hearted nature of the judging panel.

The final weigh-in for the fight had a moment of drama when Shihepo stepped on the scale afte having weighed in a disturbing 6kg over the limit at thepre-medical on Tuesday.

He surprised all and sundry by making the limit at the first time of asking on Friday. But the effort might have weakened his legs and cost him the verdict.

The two-week postponement of the tournament was described by Budler as “a blessing in disguise.”

“I always make a point of being in good shape, whether in training for a fight or not,” said the tearaway Budler, “but the extra two weeks of preparation enabled me to reach a new level of fitness.”

But it was hardly necessary in a fight that lasted less than three minutes.

His Colombian opponent has yet to beat a boxer ranked among the top 10 in the world during his 25-bouts career - and it was clear to see why. – Sapa


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