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Budler the Pinoy tormentor


PhilBoxing.com




IBF lightflyweight champion Milan Melindo will make the first defense of his crown against South Africa’s Hekkie Budler at the Waterfront Hotel and Casino in Cebu on Sept. 16 and it won’t be a cakewalk for sure. Budler is known as the Pinoy “Hexecutioner” who has won three world titles at the expense of Filipinos. He’s looking to keep the streak alive by wresting the IBF crown from Melindo.

Budler, dubbed the “Pocket Rocket,” has faced five Filipinos so far. He beat Juanito Rubillar twice, once on a majority decision and once on a split verdict. Budler also outpointed Florante Condes, Michael Landero and Renan Trongco. Last February, he stopped Joey Canoy to capture the vacant IBO lightflyweight diadem in South Africa. Canoy was dropped in the seventh round and failed to answer the bell for the eighth.

Budler won the vacant IBO lightflyweight throne in his first meeting with Rubillar in 2010 and took the vacant IBO minimumweight crown via a win over Landero in 2011. If Budler beats Melindo, he will have claimed his fourth world championship over a Filipino. Budler’s camp said there’s a rematch clause in the Melindo contract. If Budler wins, there will be a return fight in the Philippines.
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The heavily-tattooed Budler, who got married to his long-time girlfriend Roxy Palm in 2014, has a 31-2 record, with 10 KOs. Although his knockout rate isn’t on the high side, four of his stoppage wins came in the first round, including a demolition of Colombia’s Karlius Diaz to take the WBA minimumweight belt in 2014. His record doesn’t reflect Budler’s swarming style. Budler is hardly a stylist. He likes to brawl, slug, engage, take chances and dictate pace. Melindo will have his hands full trying to stave off Budler.

Melindo’s record of 36-2, with 13 KOs, is similar to Budler’s. Like Budler, Melindo is underrated as a knockout puncher. Last May, Melindo scored a devastating first round knockout over Japan’s Akira Yaegashi to bag the IBF crown in Tokyo. Both Melindo and Budler tote two losses. Melindo bowed to Mexico’s Juan Francisco Estrada on a unanimous decision in 2013 and to another Mexican Javier Mendoza on a sixth round technical verdict in 2015. Budler was beaten by Gideon Buthelezi on a split decision in 2011 and Nicaragua’s Byron Rojas on a unanimous verdict in March last year. So neither has lost by knockout.

ALA Boxing president Michael Aldeguer said the Melindo-Budler fight will be one of the biggest bouts ever staged in Cebu, perhaps even bigger than any of Donnie Nietes’ six world title fights, the Z Gorres-Fernando Montiel battle for the WBO superflyweight crown in 2007 and Flash Elorde’s duels with Teruo Kosaka in 1962 and Rene Barrientos in 1965. It’s not often that Cebu hosts a world championship fight between a Filipino defending titlist and a challenger who’s a former two-division world titleholder. The match will headline Pinoy Pride 42 in the continuing series that’s co-produced by ALA Boxing and ABS-CBN.
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Budler, who is 29 like Melindo, has never lost in five outings on the road, winning thrice in Monaco and once in Texas and once in Canada. Fighting overseas is nothing new to Budler who’s a road warrior. Colin Nathan, who has been Budler’s trainer since he turned pro in 2007, said facing Melindo in Cebu won’t be a problem.

"I'm so upbeat about this fight,” said Nathan. “Although Hekkie’s not the mandatory, we were honored to get the call. Do we want to risk it all? Yes! We're going to Melindo's home turf, but it's a very winnable fight. The odds are against us, but we're going to win. Hekkie has fought in hostile territory before, but he's mature enough, and good enough, to win. He must bring his A game and it's my job to ensure that happens."

Budler described Melindo as “a very good fighter, probably the best opponent I will have faced.” He said, “Going on the road doesn't faze me … I'll fight anywhere.” Budler’s promoter Rodney Berman of Golden Gloves said, "Melindo's people obviously believe in their guy, but Hekkie is an unbelievable boxer … this is more than just a major fight, it's an opportunity to cement his legacy as a multiple belt title-holder … It's going to be an excellent match, a real treat for the fans … I'm delighted we could do this deal."


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joaquin Henson.


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