the past year, Chris Van Heerden has graduated from the national level in
South Africa to the international scene, along the way beating
countryman Kaizer Mabuza and most recently grizzled Argentine
veteran Sebastian Lujan. Both were wide decisions (against former world
title challengers) whilst winning his IBO welterweight crown (against Mabuza) and
then defending it (against Lujan). The Lujan win was an interesting
measuring tool when you think he lost a competitive fight to Antonio
Margarito in 2005 when the fight was stopped due to an unsightly cut around his
ear (a by-product of obstinate toughness at the very least). Lujan also lost
decisions to Sergiy Dzinziruk and Mike Jones making him Van Heerden's most
notable opponent and best win to date. “The Heat” has only recently turned 25,
seems to have a considerable upside and intends to showcase his talents in
America and Europe in the future. So far, the Johannesburg native's record
stands at 18-1-1 with 10 wins inside the distance; the lone loss was to Nikola
Stevanovic (in Serbia) up at light middleweight via split decision, marking the
only time he's fought outside of South Africa. Next up will likely be a stay-busy
fight before meeting Matthew Hatton in February in what is expected to be one
of the biggest fights ever to take place in Cape Town as a celebration for
Nelson Mandela, a huge boxing fan.
Anson Wainwright - On 16 June,
you beat world-rated Sebastian Lujan. What are your thoughts on that
Chris Van Heerden - It was a true test
for us to see if I could stand in the ring with a man who not only has fought
with some of the best and most world renowned welterweight champions. It has
brought me a whole new confidence and [approach] to our training method. I’m
moving fast and changing and perfecting my style and defence and attack from
fight to fight. I showed skilful boxing abilities by schooling and taking
control from round one to round 12. My speed and crafty defence took away Mr.
Lujan's strengths to dominate. It has proved that I’m a force to be reckoned
with and will soon be on the big stage.
AW - Tell us about your training for Lujan.
What is your walk-around weight and what was your diet for this fight?
CVH - I will train out in Johannesburg
in a 10-week span away from family. I walk around about 70kg (154 pounds). I've
got a special diet prepared.
AW - Though it's early days, what are
your plans next? Who are you looking to fight?
CVH - It is now time to showcase myself
around the world in the U.S., England and Europe. I’m earning my rightful place
in the world of boxing.
There are so many welterweights out
there to choose from, because it is the most active division in boxing, so we
need to scan carefully who will bring us closer to that number one spot. Many
to choose from but we have our eye on a few good men. The likes of Paulie
Malignaggi, Matthew Hatton, etc. would be credited opponents. I believe it will
create huge hype as I continue to do what I do best: win. Then when stage three is done, I can take on [Saul] Alvarez, [Victor]
Ortiz, Manny Pacquiao and the best of them all, Floyd “Mayday” [Mayweather].
AW - The welterweight division is very
strong at the world level at the moment. How far away from the top guys do you
think you are? Are you targeting anyone?
CVH – Well, after [beating] Lujan, I
should be in the Top 10, not too far away from the big boys. My dream would be
to get a shot against any big name out in Vegas.
AW – Previously you beat former world
title challenger and fellow South African Kaizer Mabuza. Can you talk us
through the fight from your point of view? Also, how happy were you with your
CVH - Kaizer was no pushover; he's a
hard puncher and very strong. We studied him over and over. My trainer Peter
Smith prepared me to be in top shape. After round one, we knew he wouldn't stop
me; he was too slow. As the fight progressed, we started running away with the
fight. I almost had him down in round 10 but he survived.
AW - Can you tell us about your team?
Also where do you regularly train?
CVH - I'm with the best team South
Africa can produce. My manager and trainer is Peter Smith, former heavyweight
boxer in his time, and am currently being promoted by Golden Gloves Limited
[headed by ] Rodney Berman. I'm training out of the Smith Gym.
AW - What was your upbringing like in
Johannesburg? Were things tough for you? How did you first become interested in
CVH – Well, I was brought up very hard
in life. My dad was a boxer in his time as well, so my dad made sure of raising
me hard. I come out of a loving and caring family and have been looked after
very well. As I said, my dad was a pro boxer. He introduced me to the sport at
the age of seven.
AW - Tell us about yourself as a person.
What do you like to do away from boxing? What are your hobbies and interests?
CVH - I’m a down-to-Earth guy, a lover
of Jesus Christ, my saviour. I love hanging out with my friends at times but
I'm more of an on-my-own-type of guy, going to the movies or [I’ll] just stay
at home and relax watching DVDs.
AW - If you weren’t a pro boxer, what do
you think you’d be doing with your life?
CVH – Well, I finished school with
honours to study further in accounting. [I] guess that's what I would have
AW - What are your thoughts on boxing in
South Africa at the moment? Who do you consider the best boxers? Do you have
some younger guys who could make an impact on the sport in a few years?
CVH - Boxing in South Africa is slowly
getting huge on the world scale. I consider myself as the best. My teammate,
Kevin Lerena, is a youngster in the cruiserweight division, currently 3-0 with
AW - Who was your boxing hero growing up
and who do you admire today?
CVH - Sugar Ray Leonard and I am a huge [Floyd]
Finally in closing, do you have a message for the welterweight division?
CVH - Yes I do. The Lord says in  Timothy
[1.7], “I have not given you a spirit of fear but a spirit or power.” I respect
every fighter out there; all I'm asking is for respect in return. Remember this
name: “The Heat.”