Chris turns on the heat
Chris "The Heat" van Heerden may have done well for himself in his young career of only 11 fights by wining the African Boxing Union (ABU) welterweight belt from Hassan Saku on Friday night.
He confirmed that what his countrymen Vus'Umuzi Malinga, Ali Funeka and Moruti Mthalane did to the world's feared fighters, Veeraphol Nakhonluang, Zahir Raheem and Hussein Hussein, respectively, last month, was not a fluke.
Van Heerden exposed a brief introduction of the calibre of fighters that South Africa has for the future, which seems bright.
Malinga ended the illustrious career of Nakhonluang in four rounds.
The latter, a Thai icon and former two-time World Boxing Council (WBC) junior bantamweight champion, suffered his fourth defeat against 61 wins with 43 knockouts, and he retired after that humiliation at home.
Funeka stopped America's big name fighter Raheem, also in four, while Mthalane emphatically pounded Australian Hussein over 12 one-sided rounds in the undercard to Funeka's fight in East London.
Malinga, Funeka and Mthalane won rights to challenge for the World Boxing Council (WBC) junior bantam, International Boxing Federation (IBF) lightweight and IBF junior flyweight belts, respectively.
These fights were organised by the Branco Sports Production company, which also staged Van Heerden's first international fight at the Carousel Casino, North West.
Dazzled ABU president, Tunisian Houcine Houichi, who is also vice-president of the WBC, was at ringside and said: "Chris showed a big heart, enormous capacity and great character.
"Four defences then he will be ready to take WBC International champ Selcuk Aydin."
Van Heerden, 21, came back from the brink of an early defeat to eventually force an eighth- round stoppage over Saku, a former East and Central Africa middleweight champion.
Saku, fittingly nicknamed "Hitman", rocked Van Heerden with swinging blows that opened a cut below his left eye in their scary first round.
Brutality continued in round two. Van Heerden found his footing in three. His hand speed and footwork troubled 32-year-old Saku.
Van Heerden's total onslaught in the eighth wobbled the visibly depleted foreigner, and local referee Andrew Smale intervened with two minutes and 58 seconds into the round.
It was Saku's first defence of the title he won last December. His previous five defeats were in Russia, Sweden, Estonia, Denmark and Italy.
Van Heerden has only fought 43 rounds in 11 fights.