Chris Van Heerden is as ready as ever for his Madison Square Garden date with Cecil McCalla on Friday night. The South African southpaw will make his New York City debut against the unbeaten American (20-0) and says he cannot wait to climb into the ring at the famed New York venue, “Wow! I’m so motivated and excited to fight. I’ve always said if I can one day fight at Madison Square Garden it’ll complete my career. It makes me realise that dreams do come true and hard work does pay off. The history at Madison Square Garden speaks for itself.”
Earlier in the week McCalla dismissed Van Heerden but the 27-year old believes he is being underestimated at the Maryland native’s peril. The Meyerton man says, “Look he’s unbeaten and I respect him for that. Obviously he’s no bum. He’s a solid opponent but he’s never fought anyone to test him yet I think. I’m a pressure fighter. I can go with him and I have a higher volume of punches. I expect him to be in front of me but I’m confident that I can break him down. He’s got quick hands but I will match him in speed.” Van Heerden has the added benefit of renowned trainer Freddie Roach in his corner.
The Santa Monica, Californa resident says it has been unbelievable having Roach in his corner, “It’s a dream come true getting intake and advice from Freddie and picking his mind; seeing the way he sees things. Just knowing his eyes are on me motivates me so much. I just want to do better and do more. How many South African fighters can say they’ve trained with the best trainer in the world? I’m fortunate and I’m blessed.” Van Heerden has won 11 of his 21 triumphs by way of knockout and he says Roach is surprised that he has not floored more opponents. Roach is working on his pupil’s power but is not taking away from who the The Heat really is.
“The thing about Freddie is that he hasn’t changed me as a fighter. He just tweaks and helps to correct mistakes. He wants me to sit down more with my punches. I’m a floater but Freddie has helped me to plant my feet better when I attack and my power has definitely improved. We’ve been working on that and it’s been coming along and he can’t believe I don’t have a bigger knockout ratio,” says Van Heerden. The big bout against McCalla is for the IBF International welterweight title.