By Ron Jackson
Chris van Heerden retained his IBO welterweight title when he beat Sebastian Lujan on points at Emperors Palace near Johannesburg on Saturday night. The South African won by 120-109 on two cards and by 119-109 on the third against a tough, cagey opponent from Argentina.
Van Heerden showed superb condition, hand speed, and confidence. He took charge in the opening round and seldom relinquished the initiative.
His crisp punching was the main feature as the bout unfolded and the veteran from Argentina had to use his superior experience to stay in contention.
His excellent head movement was, however, not enough to keep him out of trouble as Van Heerden, at 25 seven years his junior, kept digging in blows to the body.
Lujan took the edge of the South African’s attacks at times by tying the champion up on the ropes but his work rate was by no means good enough to earn him victory. His lack of punching power also never gave him a chance of winning by knockout.
In taking his record to 18-1-1, with 10 knockouts, Van Heerden produced one of the best performances by a South African boxer in recent times. He is by no means a finished product but he has earned respect at international level.
Lujan’s record dropped to 42-7-1, including 26 stoppage wins.
The referee was Thabo Spampool and the judges Pete Podgorski, Mark Streisand and Tshabala. The tournament was presented by Rodney Berman of Golden Gloves Promotions.