Boxing promoters have often bemoaned the fact that the little guys are hard to sell with fans often arguing that their fights are dull, devoid of the big-hitting action seen in the heavier divisions.
But for those who witnessed Saturday evening’s clash between Hekkie Budler and Simphiwe Khonco, when slugging it out for the WBA and IBO world titles, were served a treat in what will surely go down as one of the best fights in South Africa this year.
IT was a bout that saw Budler drop rounds early on before surging back in the seventh. But the time the final bell had rung both fighters were left bloodied and bruised with the judges awarding a unanimous decision in the “Hexecutioner’s” favour.
Only one score of the three didn’t seem to make sense. The 117-111 put forward by one judge tells the story of a lopsided fight. It was anything but with Budler having to lift his game throughout to try and peg back the challenger, who used his speed and accuracy to good effect, from the Eastern Cape.
The other two judges were closer to the mark with scores of 115-113 and 116-112.
“It was a hard one. I didn’t expect that. I made a few mistakes at the start. This was one of the hardest fights of my career. I knew he was good but I didn’t think it would be that tough,” Budler who sported a cut above his left eye from the second round onwards, said after the battle.
In other bouts on the night, Thompson Mokwana lowered the colours of Roman Zhailauov by handing the Kazakshtan-based fighter the first loss of his career after a split-decision.
It’s often tough to predict how Mokwana will fare given his inconsistency. One fight he’s brilliant and the next he’s lacklustre. The bout against Zhailauov was one of those nights he lifted his game and provided the first proper test of his opponent’s local career.
One score read 78-77 in favour of Zhailauov but Mokwana had done enough to impress the other two judges who both had it 77-75 in his favour.
Paul Kamanga romped to a comfortable points victory over Jason Bedpan with two scores of 99-91 and a tally of 100-90 in his favour in their welterweight battle over 10 rounds.
Ryno Liebenberg claimed the vacant South African light-heavyweight title by stopping Makhosandile Zwengu, who had no right challenging for a strap given his 6-9 record, inside two rounds.