South Africa’s Hekkie Budler had to go on the road to do it, but he eked out a narrow decision victory over Ryoichi Taguchi today in Japan, winning the WBA and IBF junior flyweight titles.
Budler (32-3, 10 KO) won on scores of 114-113 across the board. The victory makes the 30-year-old “Hexecutioner” a two-division world champion, as he previously held titles at 105 pounds earlier this decade.
The win is obviously huge for Budler, who challenged for the IBF belt last September, losing a controversial split decision in the Philippines to Milan Melindo. Melindo lost the belt to Taguchi in December.
Taguchi (27-3-2, 12 KO) came on strong in the second half of the fight after a slow start, and was able to drop Budler in the 12th round, but it wound up not being enough. The 31-year-old Taguchi hadn’t lost a fight since 2013, when he was beaten by a young Naoya Inoue in Inoue’s fourth pro bout.