JOHANNESBURG – Boxing in Gauteng kicks the year off on February 4 at Emperors Palace where promoter Rodney Berman’s Thunder and Lightning Tournament will be headlined by a world title fight.
Former minimum weight world champion, Hekkie Budler, alias The Hexecutioner, will face Joey Canoy from the Philippines for the vacant IBO Jnr Flyweight title.
After his shock defeat to Byron Rojas in March 2016, Budler moved up a division and did well to beat Siyabonga Siyo in October of last year.
Canoy, who will enter the ring with a record of 12 wins and 2 losses will need to be at his best against Budler, who has a record of 30 wins and only 2 defeats. Budler has an incredible work rate, but he will be mindful of the fact that Canoy is coming off a victory over the previously undefeated Toto Landero in September of last year.
In a cruiserweight bout scheduled for 10 rounds, Kevin Lerena comes up against Vikapita Merora from Namibia.
Lerena, who won the Super 4 event with a hard fought points win against Micki Nielsen last October, will be looking to add the scalp of Merora to his record of 16 wins.
Merora has not been in the ring since May 2015 when he lost by KO to Russian Dmitry Kudryashov. He could find the going tough against Lerena who has improved in leaps and bounds.
The Namibian has had 33 fights, winning 28 of them, but his inactivity could play into the hands of Lerena. Berman has big plans for Lerena this year, so expect a polished performance from him in order to win Berman’s favour.
Crowd pleaser and a favourite of the fans, Ryno Liebenberg will face Enrico Koelling from Germany in a light heavyweight clash scheduled for 10 rounds.
This is a rematch of their fight that took place in Germany in October of last year. Koelling took that one on a split decision, a decision disputed by many who watched the fight.
Liebenberg is an all out action fighter and with his fans behind him will be eager to avenge his earlier defeat.
Not the most gifted fighter but with the heart of a lion, Liebenberg will take the fight to the German, who enters the ring with 22 wins and a single loss.
Many feel that Ryno will not want to leave this one to the judges, and should the Highveld altitude start getting to Koelling in the later rounds, he could push for a stoppage.
Welterweight sensation Thulani Mbenge, who has stopped all 8 of his opponents to date, will be up against the experienced Ntuthuko Memela who will be having his 18th fight in the paid ranks.
Mbenge will do well to pull off a victory against an opponent who is more experienced and who boasts a draw against SA champion Shaun Ness.
Should Mbenge leave the ring as the victor, his team could be in a position to put in a challenge for the national title. Memela is going to have his hands full to stay away from the power punches of Mbenge, and this is one fight that probably will not go the full distance.
In an early bout, Rowan Campbell from Gauteng will get into the ring against Fhulufhelo Ramaliba from Limpopo in a light heavyweight clash.
The tournament will be broadcast live on Supersport.
Africa News Agency