Around 6 am on a glorious Sunday morning of 20 May 2018 boxing history got made! The pugilist scripts got rewritten and the fighters’ records retyped. The pecking order of boxing’s best got rearranged as the new world king of light flyweight division got coroneted and of course, he is no other than, the 30 year old South African, Hekkie ‘The Hexecutioner’ Budler!
Hekkie silenced the packed Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo when he outpointed their local boy and Super World Champion, Ryoichi Taguchi to take his IBF and WBA World Title belts. A cherry on top is that not only did he win the two world title belts, but also the prestigious Ring Magazine belt… ‘talk about three titles for the punch of one!’
This victory makes Hekkie the first African to win three world title belts simultaneously. It also makes him the first South Africa to win the Ring Magazine belt under the current South African Boxing Act of 2001. The last South African to bring this belt home was the legendary Vic Toweel way back in 1950.
The odds were stacked up against Hekkie because he came into this fight straight from a loss against a man that was recently beaten by Toguchi. However, one would need to understand the chronology of events to appreciate why in this particular case the truth was not necessarily in the statistics. On 16 September 2017 Hekkie fought Milan Melindo of Philippines for the IBF light flyweight belt at Melindo’s hometown of Cebu City in Phillippines. Melindo won that fight by a split decision but the IBF later ordered a title rematch after conceding to numerous incidents of bad officiating against Hekkie.
Prior to the decision on Hekkie’s rematch against Melindo, the IBF had already approved a unification fight between Melindo and WBA Champion Ryoichi Taguchi of Japan. Taguchi dethroned Melindo on 31 December 2017 and thereby inherited the rematch owed to Budler. That meant when Hekkie meets Ryoichie not only would the IBF Belt be on the line but also the WBA world title too! As if two belts alone were not enough, the deal became even sweeter when Ring Magazine also pronounced that their prestigious belt will equally be on the line and the winner of the Hekkie-Toguchi fight on 20 May 2018 will, in fact, walk away with three title belts!
Understanding the importance of what was at stake and believing in Hekkie’s potential to win this fight and rewrite boxing history in South Africa and Africa, the Board of Boxing South Africa hosted Hekkie and his manager Colin Nathan on the 6 May 2018 at its Board meeting to wish them well and express their full support on his journey to rewrite history!
Today, as the pleasant Sunday news now flood the streets of ‘boxingville’ and the freeways of ‘sportfontein’, Boxing South Africa wish to congratulate Hekkie and his team for this unparalleled accomplishment. What Hekkie has achieved goes way beyond what ordinary words can describe… this is not only victory for Hekkie but victory for the entire boxing movement of South Africa and the continent of Africa.
We salute you Hekkie! You walked into the lion’s den and returned with its mane. We will surely be there to roll out the red carpet when you touch ground at OR Tambo International Airport!
Dr Malefetsane Peter Ngatane
Boxing South Africa