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Chris van Heerden wants shot at Terence Crawford

One of Top Rank’s veteran welterweights is calling for his chance.

Roc Nation Sports Presents: throne boxing At The Theater At Madison Square Garden Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images for Roc Nation Sports
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

We’ve been over many times how barren the land of potential opponents is for WBO welterweight titleholder Terence Crawford, as Crawford is with Top Rank and ESPN and is essentially blockaded from fighting the other titleholders or top names in the division, who are all with PBC.

Right now, Errol Spence Jr is lining up to fight Shawn Porter in an IBF/WBC unification. Manny Pacquiao will face Keith Thurman on July 20. And Danny Garcia — the one PBC guy it was hoped maybe could be available for the right money — looks like he’ll fight Mikey Garcia.

We’ve speculated that next for Crawford (35-0, 26 KO) will be former titleholder Kell Brook. Brook (38-2, 26 KO) didn’t look great in his last fight in December, and hasn’t made 147 since being knocked out by Spence two years ago, but the options are just terrible for Crawford and Top Rank right now. The same thing that led to them overpaying Amir Khan for an April 20 fight looks like it will lead them to overpaying Kell Brook sometime in the near future. Brook is, simply put, the best actually available option, in terms of name value and credibility.

Top Rank’s in-house options basically boil down to Luis Collazo, Egidijus Kavaliauskas, Kudratillo Abdukakhorov, or Chris van Heerden. Collazo looks headed for a fight with Jose Benavidez Jr, a past Crawford opponent who might actually be in line to face “Bud” again sooner than later, despite the fact that the first fight wasn’t very competitive.

Kavaliauskas is coming off a draw with Ray Robinson, and Abdukakhorov actually has an IBF mandatory with Errol Spence at some point. Then there’s van Heerden, a 31-year-old South African southpaw who signed with Top Rank late last year.

van Heerden (27-2-1, 12 KO) made his Top Rank debut on March 23, beating journeyman Mahonri Montes via technical decision on the Pulev-Dinu prelims. He says he’s hungry for a shot at Crawford:

van Heerden did fight Spence back in 2015, and van Heerden gave the then-prospect a game effort in Toronto, but he was totally outclassed and stopped early in the eighth round. Since then, van Heerden has gone 4-0, beating Steve Claggett, Sacky Shikukutu, Timo Schwarzkopf, and the aforementioned Mahonres.

I understand the want from van Heerden, but that doesn’t mean it’s something boxing fans will want. van Heerden is seen as a fringe contender — he’s certainly a solid fighter, but no one out there believes he’s among the best at 147.

But given the fact that Crawford is with Top Rank long-term, and that the Arum/Haymon ice doesn’t seem in any danger of thawing, and that Top Rank is going to run out of well-known veterans from other promotional companies to pay to face Crawford, he might get his shot quicker than you think. If Crawford does fight and beat Brook, then what? Benavidez again? OK, then what?

Maybe by that time, someone like Regis Prograis or Josh Taylor or Ivan Baranchyk will have come up from 140 and will look to make a fight with Crawford. But if they don’t, van Heerden is more in play than you might like.

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