MIAMI(CBSMiami) – Even with a stellar professional record, it’s not easy for up and coming boxers to get noticed by the mainstream.
That’s why Chris Van Heerden (25-2-1 record) moved to the United States from his native South Africa – to get noticed.
Lately, he’s spending more time trying to clear his name than make his name in the combat sports scene. The seemingly great opportunity to spar with UFC champion Conor McGregor in the summer of 2016 did not get covered the way he’d hoped.
Van Heerden joined The Big O Show on Thursday to discuss the fallout from that sparring session and the damage control that followed.
First, Van Heerden wanted to set the record straight on his relationship with McGregor.
“I was not Conor McGregor’s (regular) sparring partner,” Van Heerden said. “He approached me to help him with his boxing, his standup. I didn’t get paid a dime.”
Such arrangements are commonplace in the fighting world. While some pros do get brought in for paid positions as sparring partners, others will offer their services for free as a way to network. Van Heerden fell in the latter category.
Van Heerden says he was told no footage would be released from the sessions. That was fine by him, as he didn’t consider himself anywhere near optimal fighting shape at the time.
And yet, McGregor’s camp did release video. Edited video. The footage made it appear that McGregor had bested Van Heerden in the ring.
“You didn’t pay me. Don’t make me look bad,” Van Heerden said. “If you’re gonna put (the footage) out there, put everything out there. Let the people judge for themselves.”
Van Heerden recalled large amounts of negative feedback from fans. People wondered how a professional boxer couldn’t hold his own in sparring against an MMA fighter. After a few weeks passed, Van Heerden was advised to release the full, unedited video. He did.
“I only did what’s fair and good,” Van Heerden noted. “My name got out there.”
Van Heerden weighed in on how he expects Conor McGregor to fair in his August 26th boxing match with Floyd Mayweather Jr.
“I call a spade a spade. I call it like it is. There is no way McGregor is beating Mayweather. He doesn’t belong in the ring with Mayweather,” Van Heerden said.
Van Heerden notes that throughout Mayweather’s 49-0 boxing career, future hall of famers have failed to even come close to defeating him. He’s not expecting a UFC champion to fair any better.
“Here comes Conor McGregor, who’s a beast in the UFC. He’s never been in a boxing ring for twelve rounds. He doesn’t know what it feels like. And you’re telling me that he’s got a chance to beat Mayweather? Are you delusional? That’s what I’m telling people, that they must be delusional.”
Listen to the full interview with Chris Van Heerden on The Big O Show above.