South African Chris Van Heerden improved his standing in the United States further on Friday night as the welterweight contender scored a third straight victory since relocating to the home of the brave.
The 27 year-old former IBO world champion inflicted a first defeat on Maryland’s Cecil McCalla at Madison Sqaure Garden Theater on rapper Jay-Z’s promotional debut with Roc Nation Sports and was a deserved winner into the bargain.
Scores of 97-93 and 96-94 may have been a little kind to McCalla, who on my card could only take two rounds, although a shocking card of 99-91 against Van Heerden by Ed Scunzio must now by investigated by the New York State Athletic Commission.
How on earth Scunzio could see the fight so wide to McCalla has to come under some scrutiny as decisions like that can have an adverse effect on a fighter’s career when the stakes are so high. Van Heerden has given up seeing his family in order to live out his American dream under the guidance of legendary trainer Freddie Roach and could well have been nursing a shattered career Stateside had he been on the wrong end of the split decision.
With the victory though, which was thoroughly correct in the referee raising Van Heerden’s hand, ‘The Heat’ picked up the IBF International title at 147lbs and is now ranked in the top 10 for a potential shot at current champion Kell Brook of the United Kingdom.
The southpaw has shown improvement since linking up with Roach and could be in line to feature on ex-sparring partner Miguel Cotto’s first defence of the WBC middleweight title which is set to take place in May or June of this year.
Also on the bill in New York, Dusty Hernandez Harrison continued to impress as he improved to 25-0 with a wide points win over Tommy Rainone. The 20 year-old proved too skilful and elusive for Rainone and took a 100-90 (twice) and 99-91 decision on the scorecards.
Tureano Johnson and Kenneth Sims Jr both recorded triumphs on the bill, although Jerry Odom suffered a first defeat when disqualified for hitting Andrew Hernandez after putting him to the canvas.