By Jack Price @PriceyJ97.
On March 2nd British welterweight Matthew Hatton (43-, 17 KO’s) travelled to Johannesburg, South Africa to take on IBO world champion Chris Van Heerden in what could be his third and final attempt at winning a world title.
Unfortunately for the tough 31-year old his challenge was not successful. The talented youngster that stood opposite him was just a little too fit, smart and tough for Hatton’s rough tactics. Early on Hatton attempted to work on the inside and wear Van Heerden down, but surprisingly the South African met him head on and started to push him back. Hatton seemed a little flustered by this and allowed Van Heerden to gain momentum in the fight.
Referee Howard John Foster had his work cut out in what was a frustrating clash-of-styles fight for both men. They were both looking to march forward and get to their opponent but most of the work was being smothered and there wasn’t much landing clean. Both fighters suffered cuts above the right eye early on, Van Heerden’s slightly worse, and as the fight progressed it became scrappier and scrappier, with the ref repeatedly having to split them.
I, along with many other British fans, was expecting Hatton to be the stronger guy in the later stages of the fight. But it was actually the 25-year old South African who upped his work-rate and put even more pressure on Hatton. There were some spurts of pressure from Hatton in the later rounds, and when he did let his hands go most of his punches were connecting, but his work rate just wasn’t high enough. From round 6 onward almost every round had to be given to the hometown favourite. With only 2 or 3 rounds you could give to Hatton very early on in the fight it was almost certain that Van Heerden was going to retain his title when the final bell rang.
The judges were all very fair with their scores with all three giving it to Van Heerden by 118-110, 117-112 & 116-112 meaning he retained his IBO welterweight world title and increased his record to 19-1 with 10 KO’s.
It is more than fair to call this a crossroads fight. Van Heerden has no doubt seen his popularity and reputation boosted from beating a well-known guy like Matthew Hatton, and unfortunately for Hatton it looks like a drop down to domestic level is needed if he wants to get back to winning ways. No matter what happens, I am sure we will see both of these guys back in the ring providing us with excitement once again pretty soon.