Budler a dark horse for title

Four-time world boxing champion Hekkie "Hexecutioner" Budler is given little chance by bookmakers of winning the IBF junior flyweight title from Milan "The Method Man" Melindo of the Philippines in that country on Saturday.

It is unclear what makes the champion such a hot favourite to win the duel in Cebu City.

They are evenly matched, based on their fight records.

Melindo has 36 wins and 13 knockouts, against two losses, while Budler has 31 victories, 10 by short route, and two losses. They are both 29 years old.

Budler should actually have the upper hand based on his proven big-fight temperament. The former IBO, WBA and WBA Super mini flyweight and current IBO junior flyweight champion has been involved in 16 world title fights and won 14 of them. Budler has also fought quality opponents.

But for strange reasons, the whirlwind performer whose fruitful career is guided by successful trainer Colin Nathan, is a dark horse.

Melindo, who failed to win the IBF junior lightweight title from Javier Mendoza in 2015 before finally winning it last December, is yet to meet tough opposition.

What could work in his favour is home advantage.

Nathan and Budler have been in the Philippines since Monday. The trainer warned yesterday that South Africans must prepare themselves for an upset.

"That is what we came here for," said Nathan from the capital Manila. "We've come here to win, nothing more and nothing less."

Budler is a good traveller, having won his bout in the US and two others in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

The fight will be televised live by SuperSport9 at around 1pm on Saturday.