Screenshot via ESPN
“I wasn’t really in the fight in the first three rounds,” said Hekkie Budler (27-1, 9 KOs), as he explained why he was knocked down with a solid left hook by former WBC Strawweight title-holder Zhao Zhong (24-5-1, 15 KOs) in the second round of their twelve-round fight today at the Salle des Etoiles in Monte Carlo, Monaco.
But, after receiving instructions in his corner to get into the fight and focus, Budler came back to knock Zhong down in round three en route to a unanimous decision win to successfully defend his WBA and IBO Strawweight titles.
Budler, sporting pink hair in support of breast cancer awareness, became more successful in the middle and later rounds and completely controlled the fight using his height and reach advantage.
Budler, who hails from Johannesburg, South Africa, says he would be on board for unification fights in the future.
Francisco Rodriguez Jr., who has the IBF and WBO titles, and Oswaldo Novoa, who holds the WBC title, may very well be in Budler’s future.
In a six-round Super Middleweight fight, Sergey Khomitsky (29-11-2, 13 KOs) and Nick Blackwell (15-3, 6 KOs) fought to a Majority Draw.
Khomitsky, 40, had the edge early as he pushed forward and landed thudding body shots on the younger Blackwell, 23, who did his best from his high-guard defense to pick his punches.
Blackwell was able to land more as the rounds progressed, even hurting the Ukrainian Khomitsky in the final round and seeming to almost stop him.
Nevertheless, the final round would end before Blackwell could capitalize on his late round fusillade.
One judge scored the bout 58-56 for Blackwell, who is from the United Kingdom, but was overruled by two scores of 57-57 to make the fight a draw.