The fight that hard core SA boxing fans have clamoured for is on – WBA and IBO minimumweight champion Hekkie Budler against Simphiwe Khonco at Emperors Palace on September 9.
Going against expectations, promoter Rodney Berman announced the fight early on Tuesday.
It brings the world’s hottest minimumweight boxer together with the man many claim will have his number when they fight. Khonco is rated number six by the WBA and is unbeaten in five years.
After a scratchy start to his pro career, the man from Mthatha in the Eastern Cape has put together a nine-fight winning stretch that includes five successful SA championship fights and a knockout of Nhlanhla Ngamntwini in his last bout, which brought him the IBO Inter-Continental belt.
Given that local derbies often bring the best out in boxers, Budler’s manager, Colin Nathan, was understandably cautious about the looming challenge.
“It will be catastrophic if we lose, especially with a unification fight on the horizon. But this is what East London fans want and this is what they’ve got. It’s a good fight, a tough fight against a strong, come-forward opponent.
“As a world champion, we have an obligation to fight the best and Khonco is a very worthy challenger.”
The fight is a masterstroke for Golden Gloves, who have struggled to match Budler. Opponents either want massive purses or refuse to travel to SA to take on the Ring magazine number one.
Berman has given in to the snipers on social media, many of whom have labelled Budler a chicken for not fighting Khonco.
Come September, we will know if they had a case.