Johannesburg – South African IBO strawweight title holder Hekkie Budler will start out a firm favourite in his title fight against Filipino Renan Trongco at Saturday night's “Danger Zone” bill at Emperors Palace.
Budler, however, will not underestimate Trongco, who is the 27th-listed challenger in the division and also only the number five strawweight in the Philippines.
“I won't be taking Trongco lightly,” said Budler, who boasts only one defeat in 22 bouts.
“The Philippines have a great record for producing top-class boxers and we've seen some of them being under-rated in the past, but providing the goods to the cost of their opponents.”
In the circumstances, it would seem the contest had been earmarked as no more than a stepping stone for Budler, who is seeking more prestigious titles and recognition via the WBC or IBF organisations.
“I'm not thinking of the proposed fights to challenge for either the IBF or WBC titles,” Budler said.
“On Saturday night my focus will be on Trongco and Trongco alone.”
Trongco needed to shed more than four kilograms to make the 47,63kg weight limit following Tuesday's preliminary check at the customary pre-medical examination.
He nonchalantly stepped on the scales this time and made the strawweight limit at the first attempt.
Surprisingly, it was Budler who was marginally over the weight limit, needing to shed his underpants to avoid the humiliation of losing his title without a punch even being thrown.
Paraguayan Javier Corrales, due to fight the up-and-coming Kevin Lerena in an international catchweight bout at 93kg, stunned the onlookers when he weighed in at over 100kg on Tuesday.
However, he shed over 7kg in a matter of 72 hours and made the stipulated weight limit without any trouble.
Also on the “Danger Zone” bill, new sensation Ryno Liebenberg will face 45-year-old veteran Flash Issaka of Ghana in a bout for the IBO's all-Africa light-heavyweight title that is designed to pit two flashy fighters against each other.
Like Budler, the action-packed Liebenberg is being groomed for bigger things and cannot afford to slip up against the Ghanaian champion.
“Every time I go into the ring, it's the most important fight of my career and this one is no exception,” Liebenberg said.
“There is no way this old man is going to put a spoke in the wheel and upset the applecart.
“I'm ready to roar and Issaka will get bitten,” said the boxer who is nicknamed “The Lion”.
The Ghanaian's response was that he was in South Africa to teach Liebenberg the intricacies of boxing technique.
“It will be a case of the professor showing his pupil the ropes. I've come to win,” Issaka said.
Opening the programme on Saturday night is an international lightweight contest between South Africa's up-and-coming Thompson Mokwana and Matias Gomez of Argentina, who boasts an imposing record of 28 wins from 28 fights.
South Africa's Ilunga Makaba fights Georgia's unbeaten Gogito Gorgiladze for the IBF's cruiserweight youth title.
A late addition to the programme is the junior welterweight bout between top prospects Zan Jonker and Paul Kamanga, who are both unbeaten. – Sapa