Chris Van Heerden: Ready for the reboot
Boxing is funny in that a win – or especially a loss – can look so, so much different in the rear view mirror.
Chris Van Heerden lost to Errol Spence Jr. on Sept. 11, 2015. He hung in, got props for doing so, but still, an L by TKO was attached to his record book. It was his second loss and with so much emphasis placed in glittering records, especially for a fighter not hooked on with a name promoter, CVH spent some time deeply contemplating his fighting future afterward.
But his thinking and enjoyed a marked shift on the night of April 16. On that evening, it became clear to maybe the majority of those who follow the fight game how strong and talented Spence is. The Texan chopped up Chris Algieri in efficient and brutal fashion. The Long Island boxer survived 12 rounds with Manny Pacquiao but couldn’t get past round five against Spence at Barclays Center.
Van Heerden, age 28 (24-2-1, 12 knockouts) a South African native living in California saw it, processed it.
“My fight with Spence looks a bit different now. Now, I sort of knew…I lost that fight the day before, at the weigh-in. Mentally, I was never there. I wasn’t in a good place. My trainer Freddie Roach, who I had spent two months working with, couldn’t come. That hurt me. It was for medical reasons. The man is a legend; I understand but on my way to the ring against Spence, I knew I wanted to prove that Errol Spence would not knock me out. And I proved that. But then, to see how Spence destroyed Algieri…”
Time passed and the event got re-assessed. “It made my loss look not as bad,” Van Heerden said.
It was with that understanding, which lifted his step, that Van Heerden agreed to spar mixed-martial arts bright light Conor McGregor, who was being talked of getting booked into a fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Even though he wasn’t really in sparring shape, CVH took the session, knowing the hubbub it would cause. That it did…He told me that McGregor, who he lauded as a true pro, “would not stand a chance against Floyd.”
The session buoyed his spirits. The buzz was immense and media blitzed Van Heerden with queries. Some knew he’d gotten back on the win track six months after the Spence fight; CVH scored a majority decision over then-23-3-1 Canadian Steve Claggett. Van Heerden took that bout on three weeks’ notice, he said, and that gives him more certainty that he can climb higher against more notable foes moving forward. The fighter wants to announce himself available to promoters, as he’s managed by Donna K. Avery and not promotionally contracted, as a deal with King Sports ceased when Michael King died last May.
Avery said she is open to being part of a reboot and would sell off Van Heerden’s management agreement. The fighter is open to that shift, too, he said. “Chris works VERY, VERY hard,” Avery told me. “He is a world-class fighter. Right now, I’m concentrating heavily on my Panamanian cruiserweight Israel Duffus. So if someone wants to buy out the Van Heerden management contract for a reasonable amount, they can email me at [email protected].”
“I’m in the gym every day,” the South African fighter said. “Now I just need a promoter to believe in me.”
All Michael Woods needs is a promoter to believe in him too…Oh who am I kidding? Dude has his own website, a podcast sponsored by Everlast, a gorgeous wife, two beautiful kids, a righteous dog and an unparalleled penchant for selfies. Van Heerden should give this cat a call…