Hatton managed to start the fight well and grew in confidence after opening a wide cut to Van Heerden’s right eyelid during the third round. Hatton’s edge didn’t last much longer than that though as the champion started to use his superior strength and speed to take control. It wasn’t a classic by any stretch of the imagination, but it had its moments. Van Heerden’s hand was raised in victory after 12 rounds as the judges scored the contest 118-110, 117-112, and 116-112.
The fighters were focused right from the start of the opening bell and they didn’t want to touch gloves with each other after referee Howard Foster ordered them to. They eventually relented and touched them up and the fight got underway. Hatton didn’t seem to have any problems with the champion’s southpaw stance and took the first round by scoring with right leads to the head.
However, once Van Heerden started taking the fight to the inside, Hatton started to become unsettled and didn’t really know what else to do other than hold the champion. By trying to tie up the South African, Hatton wasn’t concentrating on offense anymore and t cost him. The cut on the champion’s eye originally looked like it might cause him some severe vision problems or even prompt the doctor to stop the contest, but the cut man did a fine job on it between rounds. He couldn’t stop the flow of blood completely though, and Van Heerden’ did have to wipe it away from his eye several times during the middle rounds.
The bleeding may have actually motivated him since he stepped on the gas once the cut appeared and Hatton, the brother of former world champion Ricky Hatton, didn’t really have an answer for it. Van Heerden was effective with his jab as well as the right uppercut. And come to mention it, his left hook wasn’t too shabby either whenever he decided to throw it. Hatton had his moments, especially in the eighth and ninth rounds, but just didn’t have the power to shake the champion.
Hatton proved that he has the intestinal fortitude to trade shots with some of the world’s best, but he just doesn’t have what it takes to overcome an opponent when he steps up in class. Fighting in South Africa didn’t help him either, but he should count himself lucky if he gets a fourth crack at a world title. With the win, the 25-year-old year-old Van Heerden raised his record to 19-1-1 with 10 Kos while the 31-year-old Hatton fell to 43-7-2 with 17 Kos and has lost three of his last five outings.
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