JOHANNESBURG – Hekkie Budler is adamant he should have won his fight against against IBF junior flyweight champion, Milan Melindo.
To illustrate this, he flips through some photos of Melindo on his cellphone, showing the Filipino boxer appearing battered and bruised from last Saturday's fight.
“Does this look like a boxer who won his fight?” Budler asks, giggling.
In the photos, Melindo has two busted eyes, his nose has swollen to almost double its size. His face is hardly recognisable.
Budler barely has any damage to his face apart from a bruise beneath his right eye, and a tiny cut above one of his eyes. “I thought I had won the fight, plain and simple,” says Budler.
“It was a hard fight, but I expected way more from him (Melindo). I expected him to hit harder, he didn't hit as hard as I thought he would but I still thought I won. I landed more and I worked him extremely well.”
The “Hexecutioner”, as he is known in the boxing world, is still shell-shocked by the decision made by the judges following his fight with Melindo, in the Philippines last weekend.
One judge scored the closely contested fight 115-113 for Budler while the others scored it 117-110 and 115-112 for Melindo.
Had Budler won, he would have returned to South Africa as the IBF world junior flyweight champion.
“I think the judges got this one completely wrong,” says Budler. “Even if you count the knockdown in the last round, I still felt I won that round and I felt I won more of the rounds in any case.”
The Joburg boxer appeared to have been knocked down in the final round but Budler is insistent he slipped over his own feet.
“It shouldn't have been a knockdown. I actually watched the replay as well. A lot of people have said it shouldn't have been a knockdown but what can you do? It's boxing.”
The fight was tipped to be one of Budler’s toughest duels in his career. However the former mini flyweight champ has fought far tougher opponents in his career.
“Guys like Nkosinathi Joyi have given me some of my toughest fights. I landed on him quite easily and he got quite tired later on and I figured him out quite quickly. I knew his game plan was to knock me out, I knew his game plan from round one.”
Budler, a former IBO, WBA and WBA Super mini flyweight champ, isn't the only one who felt that he should have left the ring with the IBF Junior flyweight belt.
“My coach Colin Nathan was actually more upset than me. He was fuming. As I made my way out of the arena, many of the Melindo fans came up to me and told me they thought I had won too. Many of them said they wanted pictures with the true champion of the night.”
A few hours after their fight, another high profile fight between Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez was also marred by controversy.
But the 29-year-old Budler believes controversial decisions in boxing have always been part of the sport.
“I don't think it's becoming a problem. I think it's always been there unfortunately.”
He is now eyeing a rematch against Melindo.
“I'd like to have a rematch in South Africa but I'll leave it to my promoter Rodney Berman and Golden Gloves hands, and my manager and trainer, Colin. They make the decisions and decide where I go in my career.
“If I have a rematch I feel like I can actually stop him. I think Melindo pulls a heck of a lot of weight and that can play to my advantage.
“There are a few fighters I've really wanted to fight. Melindo was one of them.
"I'd like to be a champion again, so fighting one of the top guys in my weight division is the plan.”
Budler is expected to take to the ring again in February.