By Ron Jackson
South Africa’s WBA light–flyweight champion Hekkie Budler and IBF flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane, both have tough fights ahead of them when they defend their belts against Japanese opponents, Hiroto Kyoguchi and Masahiro Sakamoto at the Wynn Palace Cotai in Macao, China on Monday
SuperSport 9 will cross to Asia at 9.30am on December 31.
Budler who has a record of 32-3, 10 KOs, won the IBF, WBA and Ring magazine light-flyweight belts in his most recent fight which is unprecedented in the history of South African boxing and was elevated to the WBA “super” junior–flyweight champion.
He had previously been elevated to the WBA “super” minimumweight champion in January 2016 and has the distinction of being the first and only South African to be listed as a “super” champion and then beyond his dreams being recognized as a “super” champion in a second weight division, when he was elevated the WBA “super” junior-flyweight champion after his victory over Ryoichi Taguchi in May 2018.
Kyoguchi, 25, who has a record of 11-0, 8 KOs, since making his pro debut in April 2016, is an outstanding fighter and won the IBF minimumweight belt in July 2017 with a unanimous points decision over Jose Argumedo (20-3-1), and then made successful defences against Carlos Buitrago (tko 8) and Vince Paras (pts 12).
In September this year he relinquished the belt and had his first fight in the junior-flyweight class against Tibo Monabesa (18-0-2), winning on a fourth round technical knockout.
At 30-years-old Budler who made his professional debut in July 2007 is described as a grizzled veteran and technically a flawed fighter by some boxing reporters.
However, despite this he has tremendous fighting spirit and courage and keeps up the pressure from unorthodox angles throughout the fight.
Kyoguchi who is the WBA #1 is a strong and aggressive fighter with speed and outstanding combination punches on the inside.
The odds are stacked against Budler who could battle to retain his belt.
The other major organization champions are, WBA “regular” Carlos Canizales, WBC, Ken Shiro, IBF, Felix Alvarado and WBO, Angel Acosta.
MTHALANE MAKES FIRST DEFENSE AGAINST SAKAMOTO
South Africa’s Moruti Mthalane 36-2, 24 KOs, makes the first defense of his IBF flyweight belt against #14 ranked, unheralded Masahiro Sakamoto 13-1, 9 KOs.
The 36-year-old Mthalane has been fighting as a pro since December 2000 and made his pro debut at the age of 18.
The only losses in his career have come against Nkqubela Gwazela (l tko 10) in September 2004 and Nonito Donaire (l tko 6) in a challenge for the IBF and IBO flyweight belts.
In July this year, Mthalane made hard work of winning the vacant IBF belt with a points decision over eight-fight novice Muhammad Waseem, after taking a count in the eleventh round.
The 27-year-old challenger Sakamoto is basically unknown on the world scene and the only recognizable fighter on his record is his losing fight to Sho Kimura, who has just lost his WBO flyweight belt to Kosei Tanaka in September this year.
Technically Sakamoto is not a good fighter but is a hard worker and could extend the aging Mthalane through twelve hard rounds.
The other main organization flyweight champions are, WBA, Artem Dalakian, WBC, Cristofer Rosales and WBO, Kosei Tanaka.
Also on this triple-header is a clash for the vacant WBO junior-bantamweight belt between Filipino Donnie Nietas 41-1-5, 23 and Japan’s Kazuto Ioka 23-1; 13.