South Africa’s Hekkie Budler, who has not fought since he was stopped by Japan’s Hiroto Kyoguchi on 31 December last year, is now rated as the No. 1 light flyweight by the WBC and is in line to challenge the champion Ken Shiro of Japan.
As the No. 1 rated junior flyweight, the 31-year-old Budler could go straight into a fight with the 27-year-old Shiro (16-0; 9) who would be making the seventh defence of his belt, or Budler could be ordered by the WBC to meet a selected opponent in an elimination bout.
If the WBC orders an elimination bout, Budler would either meet the No. 2 contender – Japan’s Ryoichi Tagushi – whom he beat on points in May 2018, or Angel Acosta of Puerto Rico who is listed at No. 3.
Budler is only the second South African to be awarded The Ring magazine’s belt since South Africa’s only universal world champion Vic Toweel received a belt after defeating Manuel Ortiz for the world bantamweight title on 31 May, 1950.
At the time, there were only eight weight classes with eight champions and ten contenders in each weight class.
Budler, who is South Africa’s most decorated boxing champion, has only lost four out of 36 fights since his pro debut on 5 July, 2007.
He has claimed the IBO All Africa junior flyweight, IBO junior flyweight, IBO minimuweight, WBA interim minimumweight, WBA minimumweight, WBA “super” minimumweight, WBA Pan African junior flyweight, IBO light flyweight, WBA and IBF light flyweight titles in an illustrious career.
Budler also had an outstanding amateur career and is reported to have had 150 fights with only 10 losses, winning his first championship in the Johannesburg Cadet championships.
As a cadet, he won the South Africa championship on two occasions, and as a senior won the Johannesburg title and a provincial title.
When he won the light flyweight class at the 2005 South African amateur championships, it was reported that he was the youngest amateur boxer in the history of South African boxing to win a national senior title. He has also taken part in 23 international fights as an amateur.
Budler had dreamed of staying in the amateur game and qualifying for the 2008 Olympics but found that the politics in the sport at the time was too much to handle, so he decided to join the professional ranks with trainer Colin Nathan who has been with him throughout his career.