Chris Van Heerden promised his best for his Las Vegas debut, and the 28-year-old South African welterweight delivered.
Van Heerden scored a 10-round majority decision over Canadian Steve Claggett in the main event of the boxing card Saturday at the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center. Judges Patrica Morse-Jarman and Robert Hoyle scored the fight 97-93, and Glenn Trowbridge had it 95-95.
“We delivered,” Van Heerden said. “I thought I did enough to win the fight. But he was a tough opponent. He made me work for it.”
The fight was a considerable drop in class from Van Heerden’s previous fight when he got knocked out by Errol Spence Jr. on Sept. 11. When Van Heerden was using his jab to set up his other punches, he was the better fighter. When Claggett got inside and landed combinations, he was in charge.
Van Heerden (24-2-1) appeared to be making progress late in the fight. He was landing to the body, throwing a strong right hook and following up with hard lefts. But Claggett (23-4) had used a straight right hand throughout to land effectively, and he did just that in the eighth round.
Saturday was a good night for Las Vegas fighters on the undercard, as Sal Lopez, Jeremy Nichols and Randy Moreno won.
Lopez, a super featherweight, had no problem with Matt Murphy, winning a four-round unanimous decision by three 40-35 scores in improving to 3-0. Lopez, who knocked down Murphy (0-3) with a right hook in the first round, was quicker and worked the body and head effectively.
Nichols, a welterweight, also improved to 3-0 after dominating Jason Gavino and winning a four-round unanimous decision. Nichols had Gavino (3-2) in trouble in the second and fourth rounds, rocking him with hooks to the body and uppercuts to the head, but was unable to knock him down. He won by scores of 40-36, 40-36 and 39-37.
Moreno, a super featherweight, won a four-round unanimous decision over Derick Bartlemay (0-3) to improve to 2-0.
Moreno, who won his professional debut March 20 in New Jersey and was fighting as a pro for the first time in his hometown, was tentative early. But he started to put his combinations together in the second round and dominated from that point. All three judges scored the fight 40-36.
Contact Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow on Twitter: @stevecarprj.