'Looks like he was hit with an axe': Former Conor McGregor sparring partner Van Heerden suffers GROTESQUE cut in ring (VIDEO)
Van Heerden, undefeated since a 2015 loss to the highly-rated Errol Spence Jr., was paired with another unbeaten fighter in the promising Ennis as part of the undercard to Saturday's fight between Emmanuel Rodriguez and Reymart Gaballo - but the contest didn't last long after the fight was called as Van Heerden was deemed unfit to continue after an inches-long gash formed on the right side of his forehead following an unintentional head clash.
As the fight did not progress past the fourth round and the injury was deemed the result of an accidental headbutt, the fight was subsequently declared a no-contest.
Van Heerden was taken to hospital immediately afterwards but confirmed later that he had been discharged after receiving stitches to stem the wound.
The South African hit the headlines in 2016 when he took on UFC superstar Conor McGregor in a highly-publicized sparring session ahead of the Irishman's UFC 202 rematch with Nate Diaz.
Massive head butt opened up a gruesome cut on van Heerden toward the end of the first and the Dr. stopped it immediately. Ennis was looking real good tho— Andre Ward's Freshly Licked Lips (@joyronesjr1) December 20, 2020
Tough way to end the welterweight bout between Boots Ennis and Chris Van Heerden. Accidental clash of heads opens a cut over the right eye of van Heerden. Fight is ruled a no decision in round 1 .. #boxing#EnnisVanheerden#RodriguezGaballo— Francisco A. Salazar (@FSalazarBoxing) December 20, 2020
Ennis was looking punch perfect v Van Heerden but clash of heads finished the fight in the first rounds. Nasty cut, Van Heerden looks like he been hit with an axe. No decision. Boots won’t be happy with that blemish on his record. He was looking good.— Gary William® (@_GaryWilliam_) December 20, 2020
Despite McGregor having little boxing experience at the time (this was a full year before his 2017 bout with Floyd Mayweather), Van Heerden was effusive in his praise for the Dubliner's in-ring prowess.
"Can Conor McGregor box? Yes. He can," he told Australian outlet Submission Radio at the time.
"I was shocked at how well he could handle himself in the ring.
"You can immediately see that Conor’s got a boxing background and that he knows how to use his hands. Yes, Conor can fight."Also on rt.com 'One of the most gruesome cuts you'll ever see': Fans recoil as boxer Tureano Johnson suffers horrific lip injury (GRAPHIC VIDEO)