The Macao New Year’s Eve card headlined by Kazuto Ioka vs. Donnie Nietes has gained a damn strong supporting cast in the form of two title fights. Hekkie Budler defends his WBA “Super” light flyweight belt against former minimumwieght champ Hiroto Kyoguchi, while IBF flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane makes his first title defense against Masahiro Sakamoto.
Budler (32-3, 10 KO) lost his IBF belt to Milan Melindo last year, but won both it and the WBA “Super” title in a grueling battle with Ryoichi Taguchi in May. He ultimately vacated the IBF belt after an underwhelming purse bid for his mandated bout with Felix Alvarado.
Alvarado, incidentally, went on to knock out Randy Petalcorin for the vacant title in October.
Kyoguchi (11-0, 8 KO) made the move from 105 pounds to 108 after two successful defenses of his IBF title, then knocked out unbeaten Indonesian Tibo Monabesa in his divisional debut this past September.
Mthalane (36-2, 24 KO) extended his winning streak to 13 since a loss to Nonito Donaire with a decision over Muhammad Waseem in July, reclaiming his own IBF belt in the process. Sakamoto (13-1, 9 KO) fought Sho Kimura to a majority decision loss in 2016 and has since knocked out five opponents in under six rounds apiece.