Saturday evening’s maiden Uppercut Promotions boxing tournament at the Booysens Boxing Club in Johannesburg was dealt another huge body blow late on Friday.
Hekkie Budler’s stablemate and sparring partner, former IBO straw-weight world champion Simphiwe Koncko (19-6-0), was scheduled to re-launch his stalled career after a lengthy layoff against Tanzanian opponent Hamidu Kwata (10-4-2 knockouts) in a scheduled 10-rounder.
But Kwata, a fighter with a patchy record, but unbeaten since July 2019, and who very rarely fights outside his home country, failed to make the required weight at Friday’s final pre-fight weigh-in.
Koncko, 32, had originally been scheduled to meet another Filipino, Ariston Aton, but the fighter tested positive for Covid-19 and promoter Cyril Lehong had to scramble at the 11th hour to find a replacement.
Koncko lost his WBC straw-weight challenge against Chayaphon Moonsri of Thailand by a unanimous points decision in October 2019 and had his sights firmly pegged on using this fight as a stepping stone to reclaiming the IBO world title he relinquished to have a shot at the WBC belt.
Budler back in action
The door looked to have been flung open on Thursday when current IBO champion Nkosinathi Joyi, who was due to defend his crown against countryman Ayanda Ndulani in East London last night, also lost his battle with the scale and had to relinquish his title, despite the fight going ahead.
After two successive canned fights due to reasons beyond his control, junior flyweight Budler (32-4-0), who celebrated his 33rd birthday this week, steps into the ring for the first time since December 2018, against the Filipino Jonathan Almacen (7-3-2).
At stake will be the WBC’s Silver International junior-flyweight belt, although it is no secret that Budler sees this latest assignment as a stepping stone towards bigger aspirations.
“I still want to win another world title. I have never held the WBC or WBO belts and after a good win, I’m sure I’ll get back into the ratings of all the major organisations again,” said the former multiple world champion.
It will be a particularly busy night for trainer Colin Nathan of the Hotbox-MTK Africa gym, who looks after both Budler and Koncko.
Nathan will also be in the corner of Tristan Truter (8-3) for the first time when he engages Wandile Ndlela (3-4). His young charge is looking at rebuilding his confidence after back-to-back losses to Roarke Knapp and Boyd Allen the 4@War junior-middleweight shootout, which played out in March last year.
South African women’s junior welterweight champion Hedda Wolmarans (5-0) is also finally back in business when she faces Raider Muleba (3-11-1) in a non-title fight.
Up and coming featherweight Gerald Titus (3-1) is up against Itumeleng Tsholo (2-0) and unbeaten bantamweight Talent Baloyi (3-0) , who has disposed all his opponents so far by way of the short route, faces Eric Mayamba (2-2) of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The tournament will be streamed live on both Facebook and Youtube by SA Boxing Talk from 6pm this evening.