Hekkie Budler survives knockdown to make boxing history
Hekkie Budler survived a late knockdown to narrowly outpoint Ryoichi Taguchi in Tokyo on Sunday and become the first South African to hold two major world crowns simultaneously.
The three judges came up with identical 114-113 scores to hand the South African the IBF and WBA junior-flyweight titles.
Budler‚ who turned 30 two days before the fight‚ also lifted the Ring magazine’s belt which Taguchi had earned for unifying the division in his previous outing — the only other SA fighter to own a Ring belt was undisputed world bantamweight champion Vic Toweel in the early 1950s.
Budler has previously owned the WBA and IBO strawweight titles as well as the IBO junior-flyweight belt.
Sunday’s victory means Budler matches Cassius Baloyi’s South African record as a six-times world champion‚ although Baloyi won four belts‚ losing and reclaiming two of them to achieve his six reigns.
Brian Mitchell held the WBA and IBF junior-lightweight titles‚ but not at the same time‚ and the same is true of Dingaan Thobela‚ owner of the WBO and WBA lightweight belts.
The WBA‚ IBF‚ WBC and WBO are the four main world sanctioning bodies‚ as opposed to the plethora of marginal titles like the IBO.
According to Fightnews.com‚ Budler used his speed and skill to take control against the taller Taguchi early on‚ but had to withstand an onslaught in the latter rounds.
The champion put Budler down with a left hook although the referee initially ruled it a slip‚ a decision that was overturned before the scores were finalised.
Ironically‚ Budler had earned this title crack after getting a rough deal in his last outing against Milan Melindo for the IBF title‚ where the referee allowed the opposing corner to work on a bad cut during the round.
The referee also ruled a slip by Budler as a knockdown.
Melindo subsequently lost his title to Taguchi‚ who had successfully defended his WBA crown on seven occasions.