It’s more than just the need to accommodate Knockout CP Freshmart (real name Thammanoon Niyomtrong) that is driving Rodney Berman to move heaven and earth to negotiate a title fight against WBA Super champion and IBO title-holder Hekkie Budler. It’s his conscience, too.
Berman is loath to give up the fight to bring the bout to South Africa, both because Budler is likely to get done the dirty in Thailand and because Budler has been a noble, loyal champion from day one.
“I owe it to him,” said Berman, who is trying to build a war chest using every trick in the book.
Drawing Freshmart, the number one contender, out of his lair will require cunning and, more importantly, big cash. Berman has a fair bit of cunning in his arsenal, but he freely admits that the financial demands are perilous.
The exchange rate has hit local boxing like a Mike Tyson left hook to the liver with the consequence that costs are higher than ever.
This explains why Berman has already engaged with partners, sponsors and even local politicians to help come up with the cash to ensure that the fight takes place locally. Berman is nothing if not creative and he is depending on his wiles to make a plan to secure what would be a massively important fight in South Africa.
The WBA “interim” champion is unbeaten in a dozen fights, his best win coming against former IBF champion Muhammad Rachman. Significantly, however, the former Muay Thai champion has never fought out of Thailand and is treated like royal game while fighting at home.
“This is taking all my attention,” said Berman, who is working every angle he can. “I’m determined to do right by Hekkie, who has been the finest of champions and a great ambassador for his country.”