Now into his ninth year as a pro boxer, Hekkie Budler has learned to accept many of the truths of the fight game.
One of them is that winning and losing are immutable facts. He may have run up a 12-fight winning streak, but his last fight is a blot on his record for he lost a 12-round decision to Byron Rojas. It wasn’t the end of his world, but it brought his sharp rise to a shuddering halt.
The six ensuing months have allowed him to clear his head and to come to terms with that loss. He’s done so, putting the loss down to an aberration and promising to work his way back.
“It was a reminder that there are no sure things in boxing,” he said on Wednesday. “I know what the problem was and I wasn’t at my best. I needed time to overcome it, but there were also other problems to sort out [in the aftermath]. Now I’m in a very good space.”
The former two-time champion won’t have it easy in his comeback fight against Siyabonga Siyo. Siyo may have flattered to deceive in an earlier title crack against Simphiwe Konkco, but he’s a highly-skilled, confident fighter determined to make a name for himself against one of the best strawweight fighters in the world.
“I’m expecting a very hard fight,” said Budler, who is always ruthlessly honest in his assessment of opponents. “He has a lot of skill and very fast hands. Plus he has a brilliant coach in former champion Welcome Ncita. I must be at my best come October 22.”
Fitness-wise Budler won’t deviate from what has worked his entire career, but his tactical approach will be determined by trainer Colin Nathan who has made a study of Siyo. He will seek to exploit any potential weaknesses by having Budler well prepared.
Boxing has long been more than a job to Budler, who is passionate about training and fighting. “It’s amazing to be back. I love what I do. You’ll see the best of me in a few weeks,” he promised.
Given his attitude and thirst for success, only the very brave would bet against him.