Chris van Heerden is far from a household name in boxing circles, but, ever since Conor McGregor, MMA superstar and wannabe pugilist, expressed a desire to switch codes in pursuit of a boxing match against Floyd Mayweather, the welterweight from Johannesburg has enjoyed plenty of attention and column inches.
Van Heerden sparred McGregor long before Paulie Malignaggi did the same and suffered the indignity of having his pants pulled down for the whole world to see. He was the first; the measuring stick fans initially used to gauge McGregor’s potential and progress in the boxing ring. For some, he even shattered the myth.
“I could see that Conor isn’t a professional boxer because of stuff like defense, head movement and the placing of his feet,” van Heerden, 25-2-1, told Fighters Only editor Michael Owens. “He moves beautifully in the ring, but the placement of his feet is not up to date with a professional boxer.
“A pro puts together combinations. We think ahead. I feel MMA fighters just let go of the one-two or the straight left. They do not put the combinations together as a professional boxer does.
“I believe Conor McGregor could hold his ground with some pro fighters out there, just not the elite. Let’s say a guy with 10 fights. Conor would do pretty well.”
Many boxers and mixed martial artists have been asked for their view on Saturday’s bout between Mayweather and McGregor. Few, though, possess the insight, at least from a boxing point of view, of van Heerden.
“Will Conor beat Mayweather? Never,” says the former IBO welterweight titleholder. “What are his chances? A puncher’s chance. He lands one wild swing, a lucky big shot – that is his only chance. He doesn’t even win a round against Mayweather.”