SA stars treated with kid gloves
HEKKIE Budler, Ryno Liebenberg, Ilunga Makabu and Thompson Mokwana should all coast to victory on February 16 at Emperors Palace thanks to the careful selection of their opponents by Golden Gloves promoter Rodney Berman.
Budler really doesn't need the protection, but being thrown into a lion's den could jeopardise the IBO mini-flyweight champion's chances of a unification bout with WBC champion Xiong Zhao Zhong.
Budler is now rated No3. He will take on Renan Trongco on February 16 for the IBO title. The Filipino holds the WBC Intercontinental Youth junior flyweight title, with 12 wins (eight KOs) and three defeats.
Trongco's last defeat was by Mexico's Sammy Gutierrez in the sixth round.
Gutierrez caused a scare in East London in 2008 when he dropped Nkosinathi Joyi in the fifth round. But Joyi got up and stopped him in the seventh to win the IBF mini-flyweight title.
Liebenberg will defend his IBO Africa light-heavyweight title against Ghanaian Flash Issaka.
Issaka, 36, a former ABU super-middleweight champion, has 20 wins and 16 defeats. Most of his wins were against debutants and boxers who had more losses than victories.
The hugely talented southpaw Makabu should overwhelm Gogita Gorgiladze in the fight for the IBF Youth cruiserweight title. Gorgiladze, from Georgia, is undefeated after 12 fights but has not fought any credible names.
Mokwana's opponent is Matias Ezequiel Gomez, a 24-year-old Argentinian who has 28 KOs from 29 wins under his belt.
But most of those fights were against cannon fodder such as Vicente Luis Burgo, who has a record of 22 wins and 50 losses.
Budler and Liebenberg are trained by Colin Nathan, Makabu by Harold Volbrecht and Mokwana by Manny Fernandez.