Guts and Glory: Budler vs Kiyoguchi

By Tre Berry

On the Nietes/Ioka undercard is the co-headliner to a loaded roster, as another super-fight is scheduled, this time in arguably the most underrated division in boxing today, that being the Light-Flyweight Division.

Here we have three time titlist and reigning RING-MAGAZINE/WBA Light-Flyweight Champion Hekkie ‘The Hexecutioner’ Budler (32 – 3 – 1, 10KO) of South Africa, taking on Japanese super-talent, and former Minimumweight IBF Champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (11 – 0 – 0, 8KO).

A proud native of Johannesburg, South Africa, Hekkie is a battler, who came up the old fashioned way, taking whatever fights came his way, and working his way through the ranks behind a rugged style, a high motor, and a solid boxing IQ.

After becoming a Minimumweight Champion, he lost his title to Byron Rojas, then moved up to the Light-Flyweight division to press his luck there with better fighters, and more marketable names. He earned his shot against highly respected then-Champion Milan Melindo, however dropped a very close, split decision to Melindo in a quality fight, thus Melindo retained his IBF world title belt.

If at first you don’t succeed? Try again…this time in his next fight, Hekkie fought against WBA/IBF Champion Ryoichi Taguchi, the man who just defeated Melindo to take his IBF belt. In a fight of the year candidate, Hekkie was awarded a razor close unanimous decision on all identical cards with scores of 114 – 113, and became the new RING-MAGAZINE/WBA/IBF Light-Flyweight Champion of the world. Hekkie vacated the IBF title belt, and opted to take a 3rd mega-fight in a row against perhaps his most dangerous opponent to date…

Hiroto Kyoguchi is an outstanding skillful warrior from Japan, who is pressing to become a 2-division Champion in just his 12th fight.

In only 15 months after his professional debut, he won his IBF Minimumweight titlebelt in only his 8th professional contest, defeating the always game mexican fighter Jose Argumendo via clear unanimous decision. Kyoguchi surprisingly wiped out top-contender Carlos Buitrago in every round before securing an 8th round TKO for what was Kyoguchi’s 1st title defense.

The level of skill demonstrated during his short, impressive career was an indicator that he was as good as, if not better than all of his counterpart titlists in the Minimumweight division. Equipped with an aggressive angle-based style, the ability to box middle-distance, speed and plenty of power, and accuracy to boot, he is a handful to deal with.

He made one more title defense before making the decision to move up to Light-Flyweight, and in his first stint at the new weight class, was successful in delivering a dominant performance over Indonesia’s Tibo Monabesa, authoring up a TKO victory.

Now 3 months removed from that fight, he steps up a class, not just in weight, but also in caliber of skilled opponent in Hekkie Budler with the intent of showing that he is indeed the man. He is certainly well-equipped for this assignment, as much as Hekkie is equipped to bring forth an old-fashioned slug-fest. We will see whether Kyoguchi can shake up the division, and flip the pecking order upside down, and we will also see if Hekkie can completely solidify his status as an elite-fighter with back-to-back wins over high caliber opponents.

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