By Jack Price @PriceyJ97.
Matthew Hatton travels to South Africa this weekend in what could be his third and final attempt at achieving his life-long ambition of winning a world title. The tough Brit takes on IBO welterweight world champ Chris Van Heerden at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg in a bout that will be televised live on BoxNation (Sky 437, Virgin 456) in the UK.
‘Magic’ Matt (43-6-2, 17 KO’s) will once again enter this fight as the underdog, but do not expect that to faze him. The 31-year old has had the odds against him on plenty of occasions in his hard-fought career. The man that stands in front of him is considered to be quite the opposite. Van Heerden (18-1-1, 10 KO’s) has impressed a lot of the fans in his home country and is expected to have a very bright future, meaning he has entered most of his previous fights as the heavy favourite. However, he has never met anyone like Matthew Hatton.
The 31-year old Brit has shared the ring and been the distance with some of the best fighters in the world and will look to bring this experience into the ring with him on Saturday night. Van Heerden, 25, is still a bit of an unknown quantity to fight fans outside South Africa and will look to impress the British fans that are tuning in to watch this fight. The talented southpaw, nicknamed ‘The Heat’, has just one loss on his record; a split decision loss to Nikola Stevanovic back in 2010. Since then he has gone on a four-fight winning streak, picking up the IBO title along the way.
Hatton has travelled to his opponent’s backyard before, so he will know what it is like fighting in the lion’s den. It will be extremely tough for him to get a points decision in Johannesburg but we can expect that to motivate him for this fight even more. The 50-fight veteran has stated that he will be looking for a knock out in this fight. But he can’t afford to neglect his boxing skills in attempting to do so. Van Heerden is touted to have a decent chin so Hatton may find himself having to grind his way to a points victory if he realises that he can’t hurt his man in the first few stanzas of the fight. We saw that Hatton can be explosive early in his most recent fight where he brutally disposed of Michael Lomax in just one round.
Unfortunately for Hatton, I can see this fight going the distance. Van Heerden may be a bit too smart to get caught clean by Hatton’s swinging shots and inside body work, and I think it’s almost certain that Hatton won’t be knocked or kept down by his younger opponent’s power. He has been the distance with hard-hitting superstars such as Saul Alvarez and Kell brook, so I can’t see Van Heerden’s power troubling him.
Van Heerden on points does seem the most likely outcome here, for two reasons; He is considered to be the superior boxer in terms of skill and technique, and he has a big home-town advantage. However, for this fight I am going to go against the majority and side with the more slug-it-out style underdog. I believe Van Heerden may be surprised by the jump in class between Hatton and the previous fighters he has faced, and will not be ready for what the Mancunian has for him on the night. I’ll go with Matthew Hatton by split decision.
Let’s hope he can prove me right, fulfil his life-long ambition and bring home another world title for British fight fans!