Chris van Heerden certainly doesn’t lack confidence.
A second straight fight against an unbeaten, rising welterweight is proof enough that the 34-year-old southpaw fears no man in the ring. The latest comes in a showdown with England’s Conor Benn, with their scheduled twelve-round bout to headline a DAZN card this Saturday at AO Arena in Manchester, England.
Benn (20-0, 13KOs) enters the fight on the heels of a sensational, fourth-round knockout of former junior welterweight titlist Chris Algieri last December 11 at M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool. Three months prior came perhaps his most difficult test to date, a ten-round win over Adrian Granados last September in Leeds. It was in that fight where van Heerden (28-2-1, 12KOs; 1ND) saw considerable flaws that he feels he can expose on Saturday.
“I see an angry, an aggressive, emotional fighter who relies on his power,” van Heerden insisted at the end of his open media workout Wednesday afternoon at Albert Hall in Manchester. “What happens when his power is not enough? What happens when he’s up against a guy with ring generalship, a guy who knows how to move and has experience?
“I saw the Granados fight. What happened when Granados started moving? He got frustrated.”
Granted, it’s an uphill climb for the visiting van Heerden who hasn’t won since the pandemic and who has only fought one round since August 2019.
His lone fight since then ended with a clash of heads just 2:39 into his December 2020 welterweight battle with unbeaten welterweight contender Jaron ‘Boots’ Ennis (28-0, 26KOs; 1ND). More than a year has passed before van Heerden immediately accepted an offer to next face Benn, the son of legendary former two-division titlist Nigel Benn.
Van Heerden enters this fight as a +650 betting underdog according to BetMGM sportsbook, which currently has Benn as a -1200 favorite to prevail in this weekend’s main event. That only further fuels the visiting challenger.
“I fancy my chances. I respect Conor. I rate him highly. He’s right up there. That’s why I took this fight,” claims van Heerden. “I was offered a bunch of other easy fights. But I said those don’t matter. A win against Conor will change my life.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox