Following last weekend's world title action, we have updated our professional boxing world champions list. The main movers last weekend were Scotland's Ricky Burns who captured the WBA (Regular) world super-lightweight title by stopping Italian Michelle Di Rocco, and also Liverpool's Tony Bellew - who won the WBC crusierweight title by knocking out Illunga Makabu at Goodison Park in front…
WBA and IBO Minimumweight World Champ Hekkie Budler Promises Action Packed Fight Tonight
During the week I caught up with WBA & IBO minimum-weight Champion Hekkie Budler. See what he has to say on his fight tonight against Byron Rojas, how the minimum-weight division could expand with more knockouts, growing up as a small boxer with a huge work ethic, and much more.
How have preparations gone for your fight on March 19th?
“Preparations have been going well; we’re strong, we’re ready. It’s the last few days now so there’s nothing more we can do but I feel ready, feeling strong and we’ve got a few game plans and I believe it’s going to work.”
You face Byron Rojas tonight, how do you see the fight panning out?
“What I’ve seen of Byron is that he’s a very good fighter, it’s going to be a very tough fight for me. He seems to be a guy that’s always in shape and ready to fight so it’s going to be an enjoyable fight but with the work we’ve put in we are going to achieve victory.”
The minimum-weight division doesn’t get a whole lot of attention here in Europe and the US, why do you think that is and what can be done to grow the popularity of the division?
“I think the reason is that we don’t knock each other out that much but the fights are sometimes very brutal as well but it doesn’t get shown that side because there’s not enough knockouts because we are so small. I think if it gets shown more (on TV) people will start seeing the types of fights and the shows we give to the crowds and start enjoying it more.”
Many people rate you as the best minimum-weight in the world, do you believe you are the number one minimum-weight?
“I’ll never say that I’m number one, every time I step into the ring I want to be better than my last time, I want to beat everyone in my division before I can be considered number one. It’s an honor for people to bestow that on me and I gratefully appreciate it.”
If you win on Saturday (tonight) what would you like next, could a unification be a possibility?
“Yes it would be great to fight for a unification, my biggest dream is still to win the Ring Magazine belt and be the first South African to do that and if we get a unification fight I’m sure it’s possible to also fight for the Ring Magazine belt which would be a great honor for me.”
What was it like growing up as a smaller fighter in the gym, did you feel you had to work harder due to your size to prove you could be the best?
“Definitely, my whole life I’ve been working harder, at school, everything because I was so small in school and everybody picked on me and I had to stand up for myself. I couldn’t do any other games because I was too small so you always have to work harder but even if I wasn’t smaller I would be the same person and still worked the same amount as I work today.”
(A feature on Hekkie last year via The Citizen):
You are 27 now and hold 2 world titles, would you like to unify the whole division and then move up in weight?
“Yes if possible, I’d like to do that but with all the politics in boxing that’s sometimes really hard but I’d love to that. If it doesn’t happen I’d like to move up a division and get tested even more.”
Tell us what you think of the South African boxing scene at the moment?
“With the tv not showing a lot of fights it’s a bit down but we still have a few great fighters in this country, we have boxers who need the exposure and then everyone will see that South Africa has a lot of great fighters. The South African fighters are really good.”
Is there anything you worked on in the build-up to this fight to combat Byron Rojas’ style?
“A few things, part of the game plan we’ve worked on but one thing we have worked on since my last fight is my defense because I got hit with a few stupid shots in my last fight, so we’ve improved on that and hopefully we will show that in the fight.”
What will we see from Hekkie Budler on Saturday (tonight)?
“I’m definitely confident I’ll hold onto my titles and the people that know me will see an action packed fight, a fight with a lot of punches and a fun fight which people will enjoy watching. Working hard and aiming for the victory.”