When IBO welterweight champion Chris Van Heerden and Paul McCloskey collide in Belfast this coming September, the Irish contingent can expect two warriors to lock horns in an all-out battle for pride and a coveted title belt.
With the potential fight in negotiations, Van Heerden v McCloskey has already captured the imagination of the Irish fans and media, with 10,000 passionate fans ready to pack-out the Odyssey Arena for a good old-fashioned tear-up.
Well-spoken Van Heerden will be making the third defense of his IBO title on the night after successfully dispatching former world championship challenger’s Matthew Hatton and Sebastian Lujan with minimal fuss in his home country of South Africa.
The 25 year-old is not resting on his laurels, though, and making comfortable defenses in his own backyard, Van Heerden wants to make a name for himself abroad, and that is even though he was robbed of a decision in Serbia the last time he ventured into Europe.
For McCloskey, 32, the fight could represent the contender’s final chance to claim world title glory after ‘Dudey’ lost out to Amir Khan in Manchester two years ago in a defeat that still rankles with the Dungiven man to this day.
That debatable sixth-round stoppage, on a cut that looked relatively harmless, can be erased from all memory in front of his adoring fans if McCloskey can end Van Heerden’s reign and pick up boxing’s ‘fifth major’ in the autumn.
Both fighters have already taken to their respective Twitter accounts to begin the inevitable banter. Van Heerden promises that the fight will not go the full twelve rounds in response to some friendly baiting from the Irish fight fans.
Whatever happens on the night, the fight is sure to be an entertaining one as Van Heerden, and McCloskey are not ones to take a backward step, with a pulsating see-saw clash set to be enjoyed by all once the fight is finalized.