Budler considers Melindo the best of their division » Manila Bulletin Sports

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by Dennis Principe

Melindo and Budler (Photo courtesy: philboxing.com)

Melindo and Budler (Photo courtesy: philboxing.com)

The opportunity to fight the best is the sole reason why South African champion Hekkie Buddler decided to take that 7,000-mile flight from his country to the Philippines.

Budler, 29, will try to snatch the International Boxing Federation (IBF) light flyweight crown when he faces defending champion Milan ‘El Metodico’ Melindo Saturday night in Cebu.

In a telephone interview with MB Sports Online, Budler said he has reached a point where he realized the need to get out of his comfort zone and challenge the best fighters even if it means fighting in their lair.

“This is the fight I wanted. Milan is the top guy I wanted to fight. He is the best fighter in this division and that is the reason why I am here,” said Budler.

Carrying an impressive 31-2 win-loss slate with 10 of those wins ending via knockout, this will only be the fourth time for the 10-year veteran Budler to fight outside of South Africa, something that doesn’t worry the Johannesburg native challenger.

“During the amateurs, I fought outside of the country a lot so it’s not really new to me. I don’t care where I fight,” said Budler.

The 29-year-old Melindo meanwhile said he sees a tough battle against Budler, a two-division world champion who once reigned as WBA minimum weight ruler and 108lb IBO titleholder.

“Counter-puncher siya, ganoon din ako kaya dapat maingat din ako dito. Tingin ko magandang laban ito,” said Melindo.

Melindo (36-2, 13 KOs) won the IBF strap by scoring a spectacular 1st round stoppage over Japanese champion Akira Yaegashi last May in Tokyo, Japan.

Before beating Yaegashi, Melindo had two heartbreaking losses in world championship bouts, first losing a 12-round decision to Mexican superstar Juan Francisco Estrada in 2013 before bowing to another Mexican Javier Mendoza via 6th round technical decision last Mat 2015.

Melindo and Budler will headline a stacked “Pinoy Pride 42” card that will also feature the IBF super flyweight world title eliminator between Filipinos Jonas Sultan and former world flyweight champion Johnriel Casimero.

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