Budler and Lerena romp to victory
Hekkie Budler, South Africa’s most prolific champion of recent years, annexed the IBO light-flyweight belt with an eighth-round TKO of Joey Canoy at Emperors Palace on Saturday night.
It was Budler’s 15th championship fight and despite a few scares along the way, he simply overwhelmed the Filipino, whose corner withdrew him at the end of the seventh round.
In an all-action fight, Budler and Canoy let the leather fly early and often. Loading up from deep, the visitor had more luck than he might have expected early on as Budler initially struggled with his range. But the South African settled down around the fourth round, tightened his defence and gradually broke Canoy down with a withering attack.
Despite suffering a bad cut above his right eye, Budler increased the pressure through the seventh and put Canoy over for an eight-count. He subsequently rained a volley of punches down on the southpaw and at one point looked to see if the referee might step in. Instead, Canoy manfully took his hiding - until his corner decided to rescue him from an inevitable further pounding.
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Also on Saturday, popular cruiserweight Kevin Lerena continued his fine run of form with a fifth-round stoppage of disappointing Vikapita Meroro.
The Namibian had only ever been stopped once before, so it was tribute to Lerena’s relentless style that he managed to make Meroro quit, which he did by meekly raising his arms in surrender.
Lerena had been guilty of head-hunting early on, but once he mixed up his attack and took aim at Meroro’s ample belly, he had greater success. Lerena might have finished him off earlier – a left hook had Meroro down in the first – but the veteran was wily and opted to spoil.
Lerena’s body punching was key. In the third he had good success with digs to the body, punches that clearly took the fight out of Meroro, who had no answer to a fighter who was superior in every way.
Earlier, Ryno Liebenberg’s promise of avenging last year’s defeat to Germany’s Enrico Koelling came to nought as he dropped a unanimous 10-round decision in a light-heavyweight clash.
Judge David Ingram of Australia scored it 96-94, Joerge Milke of Holland had it 97-93 and SA official Thabo Spampoel had it 96-94.
There was little complaint from Liebenberg, who manfully accepted the verdict. In a fight of few highlights, it was Koelling who was a little sharper and landed the more effective blows. His defence was excellent and although Liebenberg worked hard, many of his blows were deflected by the German’s high guard.
In the show opener, light-heavyweight prospect Rowan Campbell blew away debutant Fhulufhelo Ramaliba in the first round.
Meanwhile, welterweight puncher Thulani Mbenge had few problems in romping his way to a third-round stoppage of Nthuthuko Memela. Mbenge twice hurt Memela and had him on the canvas each time before referee Simon Mokadi waved off the action.