Hekkie Budler is the smallest fighter in the Golden Gloves stable, but his position causes the biggest headaches.
Given the South African’s status as a dual champion (WBA and IBO), promoter Rodney Berman is desperate to make a push towards a history-making third championship.
But boxing’s eternal machinations, typically dominated by bluster, ducking and outright nonsense, are making that ambition fiendishly difficult.
As things stand, the new WBO champion (after just five fights) is Kosei Tanaka. Trouble is, he refuses to fight out of Japan. Sending Budler there would be boxing suicide – and stupid.
Secondly, IBF champion Katsunari Takayama is not available. According to his management, the IBF has ordered a rematch between Takayama and Fahlan Sakkreerin due to the challenger’s recent protest. The IBF will also order Takayama to make a mandatory after his rematch. What’s more, Takayama is planning surgery to treat the scar tissue around both eyes.
The WBC champion is Wanheng Menayothin, but his asking price is ridiculous for a fighter at the weight.
But it’s not all doom and gloom for Berman and Budler. Early indications are that Ring Magazine would look favourably on a fight with interim WBA champion, and top-ranked contender, Knockout CP Freshmart of Thailand for the prestigious Ring belt.
It wouldn’t give Budler a third “world title” belt, but it would put him in the company of great champions like Wladimir Klitschko, Floyd Mayweather jnr and Adonis Stevenson, who are all Ring champions.
“We’re doing the chasing, but the rival champions are doing the running,” said an exasperated Berman. “It doesn’t matter . . . once Hekkie gets the Ring belt there will be no arguments. He is already considered number one. This would finally put the lid on it.
“I’m now planning to put the fight together for Monte Carlo in November. It’s become Hekkie’s second home and he always produces the goods there. Freshmart wouldn’t be keen on coming to South Africa, so it’s a fantastic option.”