Budler motivated to win more


Hekkie Budler.

I remember speaking to Hekkie Budler when he was the WBA and IBO Minimumweight World Champion and he told me his ultimate goal was to win the Ring Magazine title. This year he realised his dream by beating Ryoichi Taguchi to hold the belt at light flyweight.

“It has rejuvenated me a bit and I want to keep it more than anything now. It’s given me that extra push to train hard and to achieve more and do more. A lot of guys stop doing the hard training when they win what they want, I don’t believe in that. I want to win more. I want to win more titles. I need two more (WBC and WBO). So there are few more things that I still want to win,” said Budler.

The champion known as “The Hexecutioner” will put his WBA “Super” and Ring belts on the line when he takes on Hiroto Kyoguchi in Macao on December 31.

Kyoguchi boasts a 73% knockout percentage, which is quite high in the lower weight divisions.

“I think he’s a good fighter,” says Budler. “He hits hard and is a knockout artist, technically skilled guy but I’ll be ready for him. If you worry about the guy knocking you out then you not going to be ready. You have to keep your hands up anyway no matter who you fight because anybody can knock you out. I’m ready, we have the perfect game plan so I’m ready.”

With the fight being on New Year’s Eve one would assume that preparing for a world title defence could be tricky with people around you celebrating the festive season.

“I’m actually very lucky,” says Budler.

“I think this is the fourth or fifth time in my boxing career that I’ve fought over December. The first time was my fourth fight when I fought in Canada (against Mario Gaxiola). You get used to it. My wife understands it, she takes it a bit harder than me but she understands it. The family has to understand that it’s my job and I have to go do my business and then bring home the bacon. That’s just how it works. I’m used to it. It’s hard seeing other people enjoying Christmas and eating. But at least I’m away so I can’t see my family eating what they are going to eat. South Africans love their food over Christmas but it’s okay.”

Sharing this struggle is off course training partner Moruti Mthalane, who will be facing Masahiro Sekamoto on New Year’s Eve.

“It’s been brilliant (training with Mthalane). I got a lot of sparring with a legend like Moruti. It’s amazing. I’ve always said he lost his IBF title because he didn’t fight. He should have been IBF champion for much longer. He’s a great fighter and it’s an honour to fight on the same bill,” said Budler.

Evergreen Mthalane confident ahead of title defense

Moruti Mthalane. Photo by Nick Lourens.

There are not too many 36-year-old flyweights still fighting at the top level, but the ever-green Moruti “Babyface” Mthalane did not get that memo. The IBF champion is still looking strong and feels he can go on for a while.

“Age is just a number, I’m still feeling very strong,” he says. “I’m still feeling like a young boy. I know these young boys are very strong and they going undermine me and think they can take advantage of the fact that I’m old but I’ll show them.”

Mthalane defends his world title against Masahiro Sakamoto of Japan on New Year’s Eve in Macao. This is Babyface’s first defence since beating Muhammad Waseem back in July to regain the IBF strap.

“I’ve been over the moon having my title back because if you remember it’s a title I had before and never lost in the ring but lost it due to other problems,” said Mthalane who was stripped off the title back in 2013 due to inactivity.

Taking on Sakamoto presents its challenges which the champion has noted.

“He is such a good boxer. He’s a banger so he hits hard. That’s why I’m working hard on my defence. Working hard on attacking him as well. I’ll be ready for him.”

Mthalane has been training at Hotbox Gym in Glenhazel, Johannesburg, alongside Hekkie Budler who will also be on the bill. Budler will be defending his WBA “super” Light Flyweight title against Hiroto Kyoguchi on the night.

“We’ve been training together, preparing for this fight. Doing good together. Sometimes we spar each other, helping each other. I think we’ll go there and represent South Africa well. We coming from the same gym so it’s a good thing,” said Mthalane.

Any predictions from the champ?

“I know I’ll win. Every time I go fight I’m always ready for 12 rounds so when the knockout comes it will be a bonus. At the end of the day I’m the one who is going to be victorious.”

Looking at the weekend: Canelo v Fielding

When I first heard that Saul “Canelo” Alvarez will be fighting Rocky Fielding next I was sitting on the floor and I almost fell off it. That’s how shocked I was.

Come on this is Canelo! At age 28 he has faced the who’s who of the fight game. Names like Floyd Mayweather, Miguel Cotto, Gennady Golovkin, Erislandy Lara and so many other top names come to mind when you think of his opponents. His record (50-1-2) suggests he has done very well against those greats.

So well that no pound for pound list today can be complete without the Mexican being mentioned.

This weekend he takes on Fielding (27-1) for the British man’s WBA “regular” super middleweight title.

The level of opposition that Fielding has faced does not quite compare to Canelo’s. The biggest name the title holder has ever gone against is Callum Smith who demolished Fielding in one round.

With this in mind it comes as no surprise that bookmakers have Alvarez as the 1/14 favourite. If you ask me, the question is not who will win the fight but rather what round will Canelo stop Fielding?

In other fights Tevin Farmer defends his IBF Super Featherweight world title against Francisco Fonseca. Farmer, who could be a target for South Africa’s Azinga Fuzile in 2019, is a 1/20 favourite.

Mchunu looks to rise to championship honours

Thabiso Mchunu (left) and Thomas Oosthuizen. Photo by Nick Lourens.

Thabiso Mchunu has challenged for a major world title before and he believes he is on his way to fighting for another one soon.

“I believe I can fight for the world title again. One or two more fights and I’ll be ready to fight for the world title,” he said after beating Thomas Oosthuizen to claim the ABU and South African Cruiserweight titles, last Saturday.

Mchunu was impressive in the rematch against Oosthuizen. While their first fight was close with Oosthuizen edging it, this time there was clearly just one winner. The man called “The Rock” won almost every round to win the fight by wide scores of 119-109, 118-111 and 119-111.

“I thought I won the first one and I said I’m going to win this very easy and I did that,” he said.

Some boxing fans were surprised by Oosthuizen’s strategy to not move around the ring and use his reach advantage but rather stand in front of Mchunu and trade punches. This tactic The Rock was comfortable with.

“I wasn’t surprised. Maybe he thought he was confusing me by not moving around but he was making things easier for me. We’ve sparred a lot and when he doesn’t move he knows that I can land (punches) whenever I want, I can control the fight and do whatever I want. That’s why in the first fight he ran and this one maybe he thought he was going to surprise me but we trained very hard and I was waiting for everything.”

Although it had been previously mentioned that the winner between Oosthuizen and Mchunu would fight Kevin Lerena, it is unlikely. Lerena and Mchunu are training partners and promoter Rodney Berman has already indicated that it would make sense for the men trained by brothers Peter and Sean Smith to take separate routes to the top of the division.

“Kevin and Tommy have some grudge going on so they can still fight each other,” said Mchunu who also stated that he feels Lerena would win a fight against Oosthuizen.

Mchunu was also asked about a potential rematch against a fighter he lost against, Ilunga Makabu.

“That’s a fight I shouldn’t have lost. I was hitting him easily and then I went too hard trying to knock him out and I gassed myself out. Then he got back and won the fight because I was gassed and tired,” Mchunu said about a title eliminator he had against Makabu in 2015.

“But that’s an easy fight for me and I can win it easily.”

The win over Oosthuizen raises Mchunu’s stocks and he will want to get back into the rankings of the major sanctioning bodies. Next year could be interesting for The Rock.

Looking at the weekend ahead

With plenty of action around the world, we have decided to take a look at some of this weekend’s fights and hopefully help if you are undecided on who to put money on.

Vasiliy Lomachenko vs Jose Pedraza

This weekend sees pound for pound star Lomachenko return to action after an injury layoff. He faces Pedraza in a WBA and WBO lightweight unification match. Lomachenko comes in as the overwhelming favourite with some betting sites making him the safe bet at 1/16. Pedraza who is coming off a points win over Raymundo Beltran comes in as a 9/1 underdog.

Jono Caroll vs Guillaume Frenois

This fight between IBF’s third (Frenois) and fourth (Caroll) could be an interesting one. Bookmakers, however, have Caroll as a favourite. The Irishman has already signalled the intent to go after champion Tevin Farmer as the two have had an exchange of words on social media.

Isaac Dogboe vs Emmanuel Navarrete

WBO Super Bantamweight champion Dogboe is expected to still have his title after his fight against Navarette. The Ghanaian is a 1/12 favourite as he looks to close out a successful year. When the two face each other at Madison Square Garden it will be the first time Navarette fights outside of Mexico.

Kell Brook vs Michael Zerafa

Former IBF Welterweight champion Brook has talked about facing countryman Amir Khan for a long time and has stated that he wants the fight after taking on Zerafa. That plan seems to have been thrown off with talk that Khan could take on Terrence Crawford next. Brook is expected to entertain against Zerafa as the latter is given almost no chance as a 9/1 underdog.


Two Guns aiming at Tommy Gun

Kevin Lerena (left) against Dmytro Kucher. Photo by Nick Lourens.

While the talk has been that the winner of Saturday’s fight between Thomas Oosthuizen and Thabiso Mchunu will fight IBO Cruiserweight champion Kevin Lerena, the title holder has already indicated who he wants to face. Lerena posted on Facebook that regardless of the weekend’s result he wants to face Oosthuizen.

“I made a promise to this guy that I’ll give him that money shot that he needs in June 2019,” Lerena posted on social media.

When 10 Count asked him about it he simply replied “I want to f**k him up”.

“I want to show him who is the better boxer,” he said.

Lerena also pointed out that going against Oosthuizen is the most lucrative fight between two South Africans.

“I’m gonna shut you up for good,” Lerena posted on his Facebook account.

The fighter nicknamed “Two Guns” has been recovering from shoulder surgery and expects to be back in the ring in March before taking on Oosthuizen in June 2019.

Lerena also explained how he tested positive for a banned substance recently.

“It was the medication I was taking after the shoulder surgery. I took it (the substance) unknowingly,” he said.

Lerena is ranked fourth by the IBF, who he says have accepted his explanation, and fifth by the WBC. Two Guns pointed out that promoter Rodney Berman is handling the issue with the WBC and expects it to be sorted out soon.

Fuzile looks to finish Class early

Azinga Fuzile. Photo by Nick Lourens

The experience that Ibrahim Class (22-4) has is of no concern to Azinga “Golden Boy” Fuzile. The two square off on Sunday at the Orient Theatre, East London, for the vacant IBF Intercontinental Super Featherweight title.

“I don’t have time, this is my fourth fight this year so I’m going to make it shorter,” laughed Fuzile.

“It will end by first or second round knockout. I don’t think it will go the distance. I’ve watched his fight against Koos Sibiya and I don’t think we are on the same level.”

Although he only has 12 professional fights, Fuzile has made a name for himself by beating top fighters with more experience than him. The likes of Macbute Sinyabi, Tshifiwa Munyai and Malcolm Klassen have been victims of the slick boxer from East London.

Fuzile is ranked ninth by the IBF and has his eyes set on a world title challenge sometime in 2019. This means a slip up would be unacceptable.

“I have to win this fight. So I can have a chance to challenge for the world title,” he says.

In his last fight the Golden Boy took on former world champion Klassen and put on a performance which he regards as his highlight of the year. He stopped Klassen in the fourth round.

“I think it was a step up for me. People thought that Malcolm Klassen could beat me because he has more experience than me and is a world champion but I surprised people like I usually do,” said the 22-year-old Fuzile.

So what are the plans for 2019?

“My goal is to fight for a world title next year,” he says.

He also made a promise to the fans ahead of Sunday’s fight, which tops the Rumble Africa Promotions bill.

“I will do what I always do. Winning is norm so I will win again.”

Oosthuizen wants Usyk

Thomas Oosthuizen. Photo by Nick Lourens.

While word from Golden Gloves Promotions has been that the winner of the rematch between Thomas Oosthuizen and Thabiso Mchunu will likely face IBO Cruiserweight Champion Kevin Lerena, Oosthuizen has set his sights past the South African. The former IBO Light Heavyweight title holder wants the undisputed champion Oleksandr Usyk.
“Why not? Thabiso Mchunu has fought him, Johnny Muller has fought him, Daniel Bruwer and Daniel Venter. Why not give me my shot? I’m the guy in South Africa to beat. Why not give me that fight? I’m asking South Africa to be behind me and give us that fight. He’s got four belts. It’s the shortest way to the top. Give me somebody serious and I’m going to take him serious,” said Tommy Gun.
What about Lerena?
“Kevin Lerena is still recovering from a shoulder injury. His (drug) testing went south. He’s got that to dispute. I’m just hoping all the best for him. I hope he gets through all of that and he can make the best of his career. I don’t need Kevin Lerena, I want belts. I’m a champion chasing the crown and the guy with the crown is Oleksandr Usyk,” Oosthuizen replied.
Before all of this happens the lanky southpaw has to beat Mchunu on Saturday at Emperors Palace, Kempton Park, in a rematch after winning by a majority decision when they faced each other in August. Mchunu and his camp feel they were hard done by the judges in that fight.
“I won the fight,” says Mchunu. “If I didn’t win the fight we wouldn’t be doing it again.”
Mchunu told 10 Count what he learned about Oosthuizen in the previous fight.
“He runs a lot in the ring, he doesn’t engage much. He runs, he holds. He hit my guards. He didn’t land much. I just have to cut him off because he runs a lot. I’m expecting him to run more (on Saturday).”
Unlike Oosthuizen, Mchunu is not thinking past this weekend’s fight.
“He (Lerena) is my training mate so when that fight happens I’ll have something to say about it. For now I’m focusing on Tommy.”
Oosthuizen also spoke about Mchunu recently when the fighters had a public workout session.
“The first time he said he’s the better boxer, which is like a slap in my face,” said Oosthuizen. “I’m the best boxer the country has seen in the last decade. Two divisions, two world titles and youth titles. I have nine belts at home, international belts. This proves I’m the best fighter in the country. This time they saying they going to make it a dog fight. Now they inviting the dog to the fight. If they talking about being the best boxer they already insulting me, now they talking about being the best fighter which I know I am, the country knows I am. Who puts me down? Nobody puts me down.”
Saturday’s Golden Gloves bill will also see IBO welterweight champion Thulani Mbenge take on Miguel Vazquez.