South African rising star Chris Van Heerden is set to make his second appearance in Europe this September after consenting in principle to placing his IBO welterweight title on the line against Paul McCloskey in Belfast.
Talks between the two camps began after an offer to Ashley Theophane came to nothing and have now culminated in an initial agreement being reached for the two southpaws to meet this autumn in what will be Van Heerden’s third defence of his belt.
“Paul was interested in the fight with Chris straight away and it is a great opportunity for him,” McCloskey manager Francie McNicholl told World Boxing News.
“We want this fight for Paul and will be looking for a venue for it to take place in Belfast this September.”
McCloskey, 33, was famously stopped controversially by Amir Khan in his previous world title bout in April 2011 and ‘Dudey’ comes into his second crack at a world crown on the back of a unanimous points win over former WBC youth champion Manuel Perez.
According to McNicholl, McCloskey could have a warm-up bout on July 13 in Hull, before focusing his efforts on the meeting with Van Heerden in front of his home fans, possibly at the Odyssey Arena or at an outdoor venue.
Champion Van Heerden, who is 19-1-1 since turning professional, has scored impressive wins over former world title challengers Matthew Hatton and Sebastian Lujan since claiming the IBO title against compatriot Kazier Mabuza in 2011.
The 25 year-old could argue that his career record should read as an undefeated one after being handed a highly debatable six-round draw in just his ninth pro fight, before an astonishing split decision verdict robbed him of a decision win over Nikola Stevanovic in Serbia three years ago.
Van Heerden’s decision to come out of his comfort zone to seek out some big international match-ups is a testament to the man after that setback and ‘The Heat’ plans on putting on a show for the Irish people later in the year.
“I’m honoured to be potentially on show this big in Ireland,” Van Heerden told World Boxing News,
“Up to 10,000 people will bring out the best in me and I am hungry to make a successful third defence.
“Paul is respected within boxing, but man will I will be even more respected after whipping him. Believe me ‘The Heat’ will be loved by the Irish people.”
Respected promoter Eddie Hearn has thrown his considerable weight behind the fight, which has all the attributes to be an explosive meeting as McCloskey gains home advantage against the young and hungry champion Van Heerden.