Johannesburg – It’s not easy starting all over again when you are already on easy street. But former IBO welterweight champion Chris van Heerden believes it is worth it.
The 26-year-old South African, who recently surrendered the title of the less-recognised IBO organisation to seek bigger things in the United States, made a promising, but largely inconspicuous start with victories over relative journeymen Cosme Rivera and Ray Narh.
Rivera, aged 38, retired in the fourth round after receiving a pummelling, but Van Heerden struggled to gain a split-points decision over Narh in a 10-round bout.
Now Van Heerden has declared on Twitter that he is “expecting great news on my next fight in a few days. It’s a huge showdown in June.
“Will keep everyone posted. I’m praying it materialises.”
Van Heerden also revealed that he has been sparring with boxing legend Miguel Cotto, who is due to challenge long-time WBC middleweight Sergio Martinez in a blockbuster confrontation in New York in June.
And while Van Heerden would not confirm it, the boxer nicknamed “The Heat” is believed to be hot on the trail of securing a fight on the same Madison Square Garden bill.
Van Heerden was evasive he did concede the New York tournament was one of the biggest boxing drawcards of the year and appearing on the programme would “certainly be great exposure for any aspiring fighter”.
He also said sparring with Cotto had been “a big thrill and experience from which I have learnt a lot”.
As to his decision not to hold onto his IBO title and leave South Africa for greener pastures, Van Heerden said even the top boxers in the country were frustrated by the lack of activity and the chance to earn decent purses.
“I had three fights in two years in South Africa before the move to the States and had not seen any action in close to a year,” he said.
“I've had two fights in America in a matter of months and the future here is very much in my own hands.”
Van Heerden has yet to break into the top 10 rankings of one of the four more-esteemed organisations – the WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO.
“What is the point of being the IBO champion and not getting any fights?” he said.
He is now looking for a breakthrough in June that could earn him a place in boxing's recognised big-time. – Sapa