Hekkie Budler swept to yet another world title victory on Saturday night as he broke down the resilient challenge of Joey Canoy at Emperors Palace.
The South African claimed the IBO light-flyweight belt, yet another vital step in his attempt to become the boss of his new division. Budler’s victory was assured after a dominant seventh round, after which the Filipino’s corner smartly decided that discretion was the better part of valour, saving their man for another day.
Budler had taken a while to get into his stride after an awkward first three rounds when he copped a lot of punches due to an inability to find his range. But with trainer Colin Nathan barking in his ear, Budler readjusted and began breaking Canoy down with a steady attack. The South African’s confidence was evident to see as he unloaded heavy punches, most obviously in the seventh when Canoy took a pounding against the ropes. At one point Budler looked at referee Tony Nyangiwe, presumably in expectation that the official might step in.
Canoy took an eight-count in the round and from that point it was only a matter of time. Indeed, the Filipino’s corner took the decision out of their boxer’s hands, wisely withdrawing him from the fray at the end of the round.
LERENA MAKES MERORO QUIT
Sharing the South African triumph was popular cruiserweight Kevin Lerena, who made Vikapita Meroro quit in the fifth round.
The Namibian had a reputation as a survivor – he had been stopped just once in 35 fights – but not even his spoiling tactics could derail Lerena as Meroro held up his gloves in tame surrender in the fifth.
Meroro had been down from a glancing left hook in the first round and was clearly wary of Lerena’s power. The South African was guilty of over-relying on shots upstairs, but once he mixed up his attack and took aim at Meroro’s podgy midriff the writing was on the wall.
Lerena’s heavy digs to the body took the fight out of Meroro, the old warrior opting to quit rather than be counted out. It gave Lerena his 18th win and further reckoning as one of the division’s danger men.
Not unexpectedly, many in the large crowd were there on account of the popular Lerena and they won’t have been unhappy with the show he put on.
Next stop USA.
LIEBENBERG FALLS SHORT – AGAIN
Meanwhile, Ryno Liebenberg fell just short against capable Enrico Koelling, who had edged him last year.
The German light-heavyweight took a huge gamble by agreeing to the rematch in SA, but he backed himself and duly delivered by producing a committed, competent display to win by scores of 96-94, 97-93 and 96-94.
Koelling was immensely strong, but his punches weren’t hard enough to hurt Liebenberg, save for the ninth when a blistering uppercut had the South African seeing stars.
Koelling fought in spurts, as did Liebenberg, but the difference was that his punches were cleaner. He was that much more polished than Liebenberg and was happy to trade, safe in the knowledge that Liebenberg’s punches weren’t damaging enough to stifle his ambition.
Liebenberg will now need to go away and re-gather. An SA title fight beckons against Lee Dyer, a must-win in every sense.
YOUNG GUNS DO THE BUSINESS
Earlier, Rowan Campbell moved to 2-0 as a light-heavyweight after blitzing debutant Fhulufhelo Ramaliba in the first.
Stablemate Thulani Mbenge was also in no mood for a long fight. He toyed with Ntuthuko Memela before dropping the bomb in the third for a TKO.
Memela had shown an appetite for mixing it, but did so at his peril against a big puncher who recorded his ninth straight stoppage when referee Simon Mokadi waved off the action after Memela had twice visited the canvas.