Nick Gordon
2 minute read
1 Mar 2014
7:00 am

All the signs of an early night

Nick Gordon

Given the complexion of tonight's "African Explosion" bill at Emperors Palace, don't be surprised if it's an early one with each of the six bouts boasting a hint of knockout appeal.

FILE PICTURE: Hekkie Budler. Picture: Neil McCartney.

The headline bout will see Hekkie Budler put his IBO minimumweight title on the line for a fifth time while also defending the WBA crown bestowed on him for the first time, when he meets Karluis Diaz of Colombia.

It’s a fight that sees “The Hexecutioner” aim to stamp his credentials on the WBA crown given that critics feel he hasn’t yet earned the right to being called a full champion after the organisation handed him the vacated title due to his status as their interim champion.

The 25-year-old meets a fighter with a record of 21 wins, 14 stoppages, and four losses in the form of Diaz and while his numbers look mightily impressive, closer scrutiny of his record paints a different picture.

The last opponent he faced had a poor record of 13 wins, six draws and 50 losses and the fact that Diaz, who is rated No 5 by the WBA thanks to his status as their Latin-American champion, couldn’t stop a fighter of that calibre in their scheduled eight rounds, could be a pointer to his slim-looking chances tonight.

The main supporting bout sees Ryno Liebenberg step up in class to take on Joey Vegas for the vacant WBC international title and both light-heavyweights have promised to make it an early night.

A win for the unbeaten Liebenberg should see him move rapidly up the WBC ratings given that his opponent, who has a record of 16 wins, six losses and a single draw, is rated at No 5 within the sanctioning body while “The Lion” occupies 13th spot.

Johnny Muller has an opportunity to add to his South African title when he meets Willbeforce Shihepo for the WBC silver international light-heavyweight crown. The fight was in jeopardy of being scrapped this week as the Namibian visitor was well outside the required weight limit, but by yesterday’s weigh-in he had made the necessary cut.

Whether or not the loss of 6kg in the space of a few days will have drained Shihepo remains to be seen as he steps out in his first fight in the division having enjoyed some success as a super-middleweight by claiming the WBO Africa title.

In other bouts tonight, Adam de Moor, coming off a stoppage win late last year, takes on Jeff Otembio in a junior-welterweight bout set for six rounds, while Thabang Ramagole and Sibusiso Twani clash in the junior-flyweight division, and Ricardo Hiraman and Phumudzo Monyai will open proceedings in their featherweight four-rounder.