South Africa’s Chris van Heerden possibly faces the toughest fight of his career when he defends his IBO welterweight belt against Matthew Hatton from Manchester, England at the Sandton Convention Centre near Johannesburg on Saturday night. The 25-year-old Van Heerden from Meyerton, Gauteng who has a record of 18-1-1 with 10 wins inside the distance made his professional debut in September 2006.
He captured the African Boxing Union and South African welterweight titles before winning the vacant IBO title on September 24, 2011 in a hard fought contest against Kaizer Mabuza.
In his only fight since then he made a successful defence against the limited Sebastian Andres Lujan from Argentina in June last year, winning on points over 12 rounds.
The only blot on Van Heerden’s record is a loss to Nikola Stevanovic in May 2010 when he moved up a division and was beaten by Nikola Stevanovic in a clash for the vacant IBF Inter-Continental junior middleweight title.
Hatton, 31, of Manchester, England who has been boxing as a professional for more than twelve years has a record of 34-6-2; 17 and has fought at a much higher level than the South African.
He has been in with some quality fighters like Gianluca Branco (34-3-1) whom he beat for the vacant European Boxing Union welterweight title in March 2010 and made successful defences against Yuriy Nuzhnenko (30-2-1) and Robert Bege (25-1-1).
In November 2009 he fought to a disputed draw with Australian based South African Lovemore Ndou in a challenge for the IBO welterweight belt. Hatton has only been stopped inside the distance on one occasion which was early in his career. His other five losses have all been on points.
However, when he stepped up in class recently he was well beaten on points by Mexican Saul Alvarez in a challenge for the vacant WBC super welterweight belt and by England’s Kell Brook
The southpaw Van Heerden has loads of confidence and likes to command the centre of the ring, banging away to the body. However, he has a leaky defence at times.
Hatton is the better boxer and has much more experience and has prepared well in training for southpaws.
In December he went in against the southpaw Michael Lomax knowing that he would be facing a southpaw in Van Heerden, and knocked him out in the first round.
Both fighters have low knockout ratios, Hatton 33% and Van Heerden 50%, so the odds are that fight will go the distance in closely fought contest that could go either way.
In the main supporting bout former IBO junior welterweight champion Kaizer Mabuza 24-9-3; 16 faces former IBO lightweight and welterweight champion and IBF welterweight champion Isaac Hlatshawayo 30-5-1-1nc (10) over eight rounds at welterweight.
In a ten round light heavyweight contest former South African super middleweight champion and current light heavyweight champion Tshepang Mohale 9-5; 8 meets Matty Clarkson 8-1-2; 1 from Preston, England.
Former South African heavyweight champion Osborne Machimana 18-7-1; 13 returns to action after an absence of two years when he goes in against Elvis Moyo 3-4-1; 1 in a six rounder.
In the opening bout of the night welterweights Lobanda Batale 4-7; 3 and Mthobisi Buthelezi clash over four rounds.
The tournament is presented by Damien Michael of Showpony Promotions.