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.