South African IBO welterweight champion Chris 'The Heat' van Heerden secured a bruising points victory over England's Matthew Hatton at the Sandton Convention Centre on Saturday night.
With blood pouring from a cut on his right eye and nose, Van Heerden's courage, enthusiasm, speed of foot and punching power proved a little too much for a never-say-die, but limited Hatton.
For all this, the dour, rugged contest appeared a great deal closer than that proclaimed by the judges, who saw the outcome 118-110, 117-112 and 116-112 in favour of the title holder.
“In the fourth and fifth rounds Hatton was just a blur because of the bleeding from my eye, but my corner men did a great job and I was able to keep going until the end,” Van Heerden said afterwards.
With both boxers guilty of persistent clinching, the referee at times seemed to be working hardest in the ring while separating Van Heerden and Hatton.
The opponents had made no bones at Friday's final weigh-in about the damage they intended to inflict during the fight, and both absorbed a barrage of punches without flinching.