Prior to Saturday, Byron Rojas had never fought outside of Nicaragua. He'd never fought for a world title. He'd never even fought in a 12-round bout. He'd never fought -- let alone beaten -- a notable opponent. That has all changed. Rojas went to South Africa and upset Hekkie Budler to win the WBA strawweight title via unanimous decision.
Rojas (17-2-3, 8 KO) won on scores of 115-113 across the board, on the road and with neutral judges from Germany, Belgium, and Thailand. The 25-year-old "Gallito," from Matagalpa, Nicaragua, survived a late rally to hold on to the victory, which he'd earned largely through his workrate. The fighters clashed heads several times, and Budler suffered a cut near his right eye early in the fight, as well.
Budler (29-2, 9 KO) won the interim WBA title in November 2013, beating Hugo Hernan Verchelli, and won the vacant WBA "world" title four months later with a victory over Karluis Diaz. He defended that belt four times. This fight with Rojas was for the "super world" title, with Budler having been elevated. Overall, he'd won 12 straight fights dating back to 2011.
Rojas has now won 11 straight, after starting his career a pedestrian 6-2-3.