By Ronnie Collins: There were body shots, upper cuts, head shots, jabs, more body shots and flying mouthpieces. The end result was an eight round stoppage that added to the growing intrigue surrounding unbeaten #8 WBA welterweight contender Errol Spence (18-0, 15 KOs) with his victory last Friday night over #7 IBF Chris Van Heerden (23-2-1, 12 KOs) at the Ricoh Coliseum, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
“I want the big fights and I want the big names,” Spence said after disposing of his latest opposition.
Well, let us all hope that Friday tonight’s one-sided performance does not negate that opportunity.
This fight showed that Spence can still mount his offense, without risking immediate retaliatory punishment as an effect. His defensive acumen was strong tonight, despite the fact that his opponent was up to the challenge, and landed good leather on the young Olympian.
Chris Van Heerden likely had his best moment in the eighth round, about 30 second before he was rendered helpless on the ropes and saved from himself by Allen Huggins –the official inside the ring.
Van Heerden threw a two-punch combination that bounced off of Spence’s gloves in the center of the ring. As Spence began to move away, Van Heerden added a third shot, a well-placed sharp right hand that jarred Spence’s mouthpiece loose. Even after winning each round decisively, the one moment of carelessness gave the crowd what it hoped to see. A climax.
What followed was much of what the Toronto spectators had witnessed in the first seven rounds, but this time, a knockout was only a few body shots away.
Much like what we saw against Phil Lo Greco back in June, Spence utilized a healthy mix of torso digs and hooks from close range to render Van Heerden defenseless. With 2:28 left in the eighth round, Spence landed a seven punch combination that started and ended with body shots. Hard body shots.
When it was over, multi division champion Antonio Tarver stated, “Looking at the fact that he is going to have to improve on opponents, he is going to have to start moving his head more, and maybe a little foot movement – foot action.” It sounded almost obligatory from the veteran who was very impressed with the performance, but he was accurate in his assessment.
On the topic of opponents, it feels safe to say that tonight will not help Spence’s chances of getting a top tier name at 147 lbs. In lieu of that, there are a couple of guys who would be good next level opponents for Spence.
Jesse Vargas immediately comes to mind. While he lost his last outing against Tim Bradley, his performance at 147 lbs. was consistent and largely in keeping with what he showed against lesser competition. Without a rematch in the works, he would provide stiff competition for the rising star.
Devon Alexander is another name that immediately comes to mind. His record of fighting virtually all comers remains intact, despite his inability to put together recent victories against top tier fighters. Alexander does have wins against both Marcos Maidana and Lucas Matthysse – three and four years ago respectively.
In today’s boxing culture, a fight with both of the aforementioned competitors should be relatively easy to make. Should be.
In reality, boxing fans, experts and the casual observers alike would prefer to see Spence test his skills against the likes of Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter and Kell Brook. Our best hope around boxing politics is likely a vacated title shot when Floyd Mayweather relinquishes the WBA and WBC crowns.