Hekkie Budler back in the ring after a year hiatus

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After spending more than a year on the sidelines, former WBA Minimumweight world champion Hekkie Budler will return to the ring at the end of this month.

Budler will be fighting Alphoe Dagayloan from the Philippines in a non-title international 10 rounder as part of the TLB boxing promotions’ “Night of the Big Guns” tournament in support of the human rights month.

The tournament is scheduled for the 28th of this month at the Riviera Hotel in the Vaal. Budler last fought in December 2018 when he lost his WBA title in China and he’s looking forward to his next fight.

It’s also going to be for the first time that Budler will be fighting in South Africa in three years, back then he won a vacant IBO World light flyweight title against another Filipino boxer Joey Canoy.

Budler says he’s already watched the videos of Dagayloan in preparation for his next fight.

Budler’s trainer Colin “Nomakanjani” Nathan says this fight is important to the 31-year-old,  especially with the possibility of coming up against WBC junior flyweight world champion Ken Shiro (Japan) in the near future.

Headlining this bill, which is being bankrolled by the Gauteng Department of Sports, will be the reigning SA Boxer of the year Thulani Mbenge who is also coming back for the first time to the ring since he lost his IBO welterweight title under controversial circumstances in Germany in July last year.

Mbenge will be fighting Kuvesa Katembo from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in an ABU SADC welterweight fight over 10 rounds. He’s confident that he will reign supreme on fight night.

There was a lot of hype around this Mbenge and Katembo fight at today’s press conference as the Congolese boxer brought his whole camp to the room. The former SA Commonwealth Games boxer is promising to shut them up.

With March also being International Women’s Month, it’s fitting that the promoter for this tournament is also a woman, Joyce Kungwane, a sister to the late Kaizer Chiefs legend Shakes Kungwane.

She’s running TLB with former world champion Lehlohonolo “Hands of Stone” Ledwaba and has more on why they have chosen to take this tournament to the Vaal.

Reports by Velile Mnyandu