Welterweight veteran Chris van Heerden has a big shot on Saturday, when he’ll take on unbeaten Conor Benn in a DAZN main event from Manchester, England.
While Benn (20-0, 13 KO) will be the heavy favorite and is expected by most to win, the 34-year-old van Heerden feels he has some advantages, and that he’s simply a better boxer than his younger opponent.
“I’m a much better boxer than Conor Benn,” said van Heerden. “In my opinion Conor is an emotional, angry fighter. He relies on his power. He cannot box with me. He’s not a boxer. He’s a power puncher and I don’t rate him as a boxer. That’s why I’m saying he’s a very emotional, angry type of fighter in my opinion.”
van Heerden (28-2-1, 12 KO) also thinks his southpaw stance could be an issue for the 25-year-old “Destroyer,” who has never faced a lefty as a pro.
“Through the history of boxing we know that fighters hate fighting southpaw fighters. Orthodox fighters always have some sort of trouble fighting southpaw fighters. It’s not the easiest. That’s definitely going to play a factor in my opinion. They see it as a steppingstone fight for Conor, but I see it as a coming out fight for me. This is where I shine and people say, ‘Wow where has this kid been?’ I just never got a fair shot.
“Benn has not walked the road I’ve walked. I didn’t have a last name to carry me in my career. I had to do it the hard way. Unfortunately, it comes with a price. His dad is a very famous fighter and I feel like the Benn last name put him in the positions that he didn’t need to work that hard for.”
van Heerden also spoke about his own father, citing him as a major inspiration in his career and this fight.
“My pops believed in me so much. My dad was murdered in South Africa, it’s been just over three years. I’m in the gym all of the time. Why? Because that’s where I feel my dad’s presence the most. I miss my dad so much, but when I’m in the gym I feel him.
“I left South Africa because of a dream and a vision of one day fighting in a fight of this magnitude. The one man that believed in me was my dad. Eight years ago, I went to my dad and I said, ‘Dad, I want to do this. Do you think I have what it takes to do this?’ My dad was the one man that believed in me when there were so many people that said no.
“My dad told me that I’d do it. My dad was my hero. He was my father and my inspiration. This is what this fight means to me. That’s why me and Conor Benn will forever be tied together, because he’s helping me make peace with this.”