Friday, February 03, 2023  |



Budler KOs Kokietgym in Round 8 retain WBA strawweight title


Hekkie Budler showed uncharacteristic punching power on Saturday, dropping Thai challenger Pigmy Kokietgym four times en route to an eighth-round knockout victory in his first defense of the WBA strawweight title at the Casino de Monte Carlo Salle Medecin in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

Budler (26-1, 9 knockouts), sporting blue hair in just his second fight outside his native South Africa, trapped Kokietgym (52-7-2, 22 KOs) on the ropes in the waning moments of the fourth, landing a right hand that forced the Thai’s left glove to the canvas and brought on the first count.

Kokietgym, who had not lost in four years since dropping a split-decision for the same title in 2010, remained a cagey rival, moving around the ring and using his jabs to set up body shots and right hand counters over Budler’s own lefts.

Still Budler pursued, finding a vulnerable spot beneath Kokietgym’s right elbow with a left hook to the body that put him down near the end of the seventh round. Sensing that the challenger had not fully recovered, Budler swarmed Kokietgym to begin the eighth round, dropping him a third time shortly after with another left hook to the body.

Kokietgym rose up once more but Budler would resolve matters moments later, dropping Kokietgym a fourth time on a body shot. Referee Raul Caiz Jr. reached the count of ten at the 1:06 mark.

Despite having only stopped a third of his opponents, Budler has now won three straight by knockout – including a first round knockout of Karluis Diaz in March to win the vacant title – and has now won nine straight since his lone defeat to compatriot Gideon Buthelezi in 2011.

Also on the card, former title challenger Martin Murray defeated Max Bursak by unanimous decision to position himself for another crack at a middleweight belt.

Two judges scored the fight 119-109 while the third scored it 117-112 for THE RING’s ninth-ranked middleweight Murray.

Murray (28-1-1, 12 KOs) of St. Helens, England has now won three straight since losing a close decision to then-middleweight champion Sergio Martinez in 2013. Bursak (29-3-1, 12 KOs) of Kiev, Ukraine has now lost two straight fights.

Also that night, Frenchman Youri Kayembre Kalenga won a split-decision over RING’s ninth rated cruiserweight Mateusz Masternak. Scores were 116-112, and 115-113 on two cards for Kalenga (20-1, 13 KOs) while the third scored it 115-113 for the Wroclaw, Poland native Masternak (32-2, 23 KOs).

Kalenga, who is managed by Guillermo Rigondeaux’s handler Gary Hyde, controlled the early rounds as Masternak struggled to find his rhythm but fell apart late as his stamina betrayed him. The early lead was enough to hold on to victory late, however.