EXCLUSIVE: Van Heerden responds to ex-promoter, open to Mbenge offer
Former IBO welterweight champion Chris Van Heerden has brushed off words from South African promoter and ex-handler Rodney Berman regarding a fight with Thulani Mbenge.
Speaking to WBN previously, Berman stated Van Heerden would not accept a fight with current IBO ruler Mbenge and that ‘The Heat’ lacked the necessary power to make it big following his move to the United States.
Van Heerden, who is currently through to the semi-finals of the World Boxing Council Invitational Jose Sulaiman tournament, refused to let Berman’s comments faze his progress Stateside.
“I think maybe Rodney is upset because I didn’t jump to his proposals? The truth is I’m not upset with him. I don’t dislike him and I only thank him for putting me in a world title fight,” Van Heerden exclusively told World Boxing News.
“With Rodney, I became a world champion, so I will always be grateful to him. He is the best promoter in Africa and he is doing great things for boxing there.”
On his lack of concussive punching, Van Heerden added: “He’s dissing my lack of power, but what I lack in that department I make up for it in speed and work ethic. The one thing I am not is a boring fighter,” he pointed out.
“My achievements as a South African abroad speak for themselves. I know I’m not the best, but I strive to leave a name for myself as a South African. I’m 31 and I have some great achievements behind me.
“When all is said and done I want to motivate the youngsters of South Africa, because Internationally, who else does? Only a hand full of South African sportspeople make it out, that’s the truth.”
With a place in the last four of the WBC competition secured following an April win over Timo Schwarzkopf, and with three wins on the spin following a solitary loss in the US to world champion and pound for pound star Errol Spence, plus sparring sessions with Canelo, Conor McGregor and Shane Mosley behind him, Van Heerden clearly remains on the up.
Berman had outlined his charge Mbenge, who possesses Van Heerden’s old belt, is the new South African star of the future at 147. Van Heerden stated to WBN that his manager Peter Kahn would be interested in listening to any offers for a fight in the US or back home.
“I know my manager Peter Kahn is working hard to make my dreams come true. One of these days things will go my way in the United States,” predicted Van Heerden.
“I’ve fought and defeated Bongani Mwelase (a KO artist) Kaizer Mabuza (Another KO guy). I’ve beaten Mathew Hatton, Ray Nahr ( KO artist) and Cecil McCalla, who was 20-0. Also, Errol Spence tried everything to KO me but he just couldn’t do it.
“I think my record is impressive and Berman can talk about me as much as he wants. There’s only respect towards Berman and it will always be.
“I believe in my manager Peter Kahn and I trust him, so if he feels an offer from Berman to fight Mbenge is good for us, we will do it.
“The fact is, all fingers point to me as the guy to beat from South Africa. I am still unbeaten on home soil and I proved myself against Bongani Mwelase and Kaizer Mabuza. I came out on top in the welterweight division during my time in South Africa. Which I why I moved to the US for a new challenge.
“These are facts. But If my manager feels it’s good to go back and fight Mbenge and the money makes sense, yes I’d accept the offer from Berman,” he concluded.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay.