Budler must shed weight
Hekkie Budler (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Looking slim and with little weight to burn, boxer Renan Trongco, from the Philippines, looked like a man with problems on Tuesday.
He steps into the ring to challenge South Africa's tearaway Hekkie Budler for his IBO strawweight title at Emperors Palace on Saturday night.
At Tuesday's media conference and pre-medical before the six-fight bill, Trongco weighed in at more than 4kg above the strawweight limit.
He will have to sweat blood to make the stipulated 47,63kg mark before Friday's deadline.
Budler was also more than 2kg above the limit, but trainer Colin Nathan declared this would pose no problems, and the fighter who has been nicknamed "The Hexacutioner" would enter the ring "in peak condition" on Saturday night.
With the proposed WBC "World Cup" of boxing still in its embryo stage, and the proposed launch of the inter-continental event with recent "Super Eight" cruiserweight series winner Thabiso Mchunu held over, Budler's defence has been elevated to top the "Danger Zone" bill.
Budler will, in any case, start out a firm favourite, with the IBO again curiously sanctioning a title fight to feature a boxer who is only modestly ranked by the organisation itself.
Trongco is not only the 27th-listed challenger in the division, but also only the number five strawweight in the Philippines.
In the circumstances, it would seem the contest has been earmarked as no more than a stepping stone for Budler, who is seeking more prestigious titles and recognition.
"But I won't be taking Trongco lightly," said the IBO champion, who boasts only one defeat in 22 bouts.
"The Philippines have a great record for producing top-class boxers and we've seen some of them being under-rated in the past, but providing the goods, to the cost of their opponents.
"It's not a mistake I intend to make," said Budler.
"In any case, I'm not thinking of the proposed fights to challenge for either the IBF or WBC titles. On Saturday night my focus will be on Trongco and Trongco alone."
Also on the "Danger Zone" bill, new sensation Ryno Liebenberg will face 45-year-old veteran Flash Issaka, of Ghana, in a bout for the IBO's all-Africa light heavyweight title, designed to pit two flashy fighters against each other.
Like Budler, the action-packed Liebenberg is being groomed for bigger things and cannot afford to slip up against the Ghanaian champion.
"Every time I go into the ring, it's the most important fight of my career," said Liebenberg.
"This one is no exception. There is no way this old man is going to put a spoke in the wheel and upset the applecart."
Issaka responded by declaring that he was in South Africa to teach Liebenberg the intricacies of boxing technique.
"It will be a case of the professor showing his pupil the ropes," said the Ghanaian, who proclaimed he had "come to South Africa to win".
Opening the programme on Saturday is an international lightweight contest between South Africa's up-and-coming Thompson Mokwana and Matias Gomez of Argentina, who boasts an imposing record of 28 wins from 28 fights.
South Africa's Ilunga Makaba fights Georgia's unbeaten Gogito Gorgiladze for the IBF's cruiserweight youth title and in an international catchweight bout.
Unbeaten prospect Kevin Lerena is matched against Javier Corrales - if the Paraguayan survives the ordeal of losing 7kg and making the 93kg limit after weighing an undesirable 100kg on Tuesday.
A late addition to the "Danger Zone" programme is the junior welterweight bout between top prospects Zan Jonker and Paul Kamanga, who are both unbeaten and who are, according to the respective camps, "ready to steal the show on Saturday".