By Ron Jackson
Chris van Heerden (17-1-1, 10 KOs) faces a tough one when he makes the first defense of his IBO welterweight belt against the experienced Sebastian Andres Lujan (39-6-2, 24 KOs) of Argentina at Emperors Palace near Kempton Park on Saturday night. Also, the first round of the exciting Super 8 Last Man Standing cruiserweight competition begins.
Van Heerden who celebrates his 25th birthday on June 19 made his pro debut on September 6, 2006 with a second round stoppage win over Lucky Mivimbela.
In July 2008 he won the vacant African Boxing Union welterweight title when he stopped Hassan Saku of Uganda in the eighth round and in December of the same year he won the vacant South African welterweight title with an eleventh round stoppage win over Peter Tshesane (he had previously fought to six round draw against Tshesane). The ABU title was also at stake.
Van Heerden made successful defences of the SA title against Welcome Ntshingila and Boitshepo Mandawe on two occasions before relinquishing it after winning the vacant IBO belt against fellow South African Kaizer Mabuza on September 24 last year.
The only loss on his record came in May 2010 when he fought out of his division and lost on points to the Serbian Nikola Stevanovic in Belgrade, for the vacant IBF Inter-Continental junior middleweight title.
The 32-year-old Lujan from Rosario, Santa Fe made his pro debut in October 2001 and in his long career has won the WBO Latino, WBA Fedalatin and WBC Latino welterweight titles.
This will be his fourth attempt at trying to win a “world” title.
In February 2005 he was stopped in the tenth round by Antonio Margarito in a challenge for the WBO welterweight belt and in September 2005 fought to draw with Mihaly Kotai in clash for the IBO light middleweight belt.
On May 27, 2006 he lost on a unanimous points decision against the capable Serhiy Dzinziruk who was 31-0 at the time in a challenge for the WBO light middleweight belt.
In his last two fights he has lost on points to Mike Jones and in April this year he outpointed Jos Maria Pombo (11-9).
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On the same card, the first round of the exciting Super 8 Last Man Standing cruiserweight competition begins with all four fights being scheduled for eight rounds each.
In the opening bout of the evening, the Colin Nathan-trained Zack Mwekasse (12-2, 11 KOs) from the Democratic Republic of the Congo but based in Johannesburg faces the former South African super middleweight and light heavyweight champion Tshepang Mohale (8-4, 7 KOs). Mwekasse is a favourite to win the competition.
In the second bout on the bill the 25-year-old former South African junior heavyweight champion Thabiso Mchunu (10-1, 8 KOs) who works out of the Peter Smith gym faces the exiting 22-year-old Flo Simba (12-2, 10 KOs) originally from the DRC, in what could be an interesting match-up.
In the third fight of the Super 8 competition former Commonwealth bronze medalist, Olympian and former South African junior heavyweight champion Danie Venter (13-5, 10 KOs) clashes with the former South African light heavyweight champion Daniel Bruwer (23-4-1, 19 KOs) from the Nick Durandt gym. Venter could be the dark horse in the competition.
In the fourth bout of the Super 8 former South African light heavyweight champion Johnny Muller (9-1-2, 7 KOs) who at 22 gives away loads of experience to the unknown 33-year-old Ran Nakash (26-1, 18 KOs) who has been fighting as professional for six years.
Nakash, 33, who has been fighting out of America since 2006, could be the surprise of the tournament, even though he has no name opponents on his record except for his only loss when he was outpointed by Marco Huck in Germany when challenging for the WBO cruiserweight belt in April 2011.