By: Sean Crose
New York City has produced it’s share of notable fighters, from Gene Tunney to Jake LaMotta to Mike Tyson to Daniel Jacobs. One of the more recent New York fighters to gain popular attention is Heather Hardy, who will be returning to action this Thursday (October 13th) after close to a year and a half outside of the ring. The former WBO featherweight titlist will highlight the Larry Goldberg promoted “New Beginning’s Card” at Time Square’s Sony Hall when she battles Calista Silgado in a scheduled six round lightweight affair. Hardy’s ultimate goal, however, is to once again become a world champion.
Part of what has made Hardy popular is the excitement she brings with her into a bout. The 22-2 fighter is entertaining to watch in action, as viewing any number of her fights will attest. Indeed, Hardy was supposed to fight earlier this year against Terri Harper, but a hand injury prevented her from doing so. Now, at forty years of age, Hardy will slip between the ropes this Thursday night after suffering back to back losses, to Amanda Serrano in 2019, and Jessica Camara in 2021. Not that the fighter known as “The Heat” has been slacking. Hardy has had a serious run as a mixed martial artist for the Bellator organization and simply isn’t the type of person to spend extended periods of time out of the gym.
“I’m super excited,” she says on the eve of her comeback. “Camp was amazing.” That may be the sort of thing most fighters would say, but Hardy comes across as a particularly honest sort. There’s no bloviating during our call, no pie in the sky promises of stunning knockouts or world conquering. Hardy, simply put, speaks as a serious professional, one who isn’t apt to try to fool herself or others. “We’re not going to really be able to gauge that,” she says of the impact her time out of the ring might have on her. That question, she makes clear, will be answered on Thursday night when she faces the 20-15-3 Silgado.
Hardy, truth be told, is an individual who looks at the big picture. She knows, for instance, that her popularity extends beyond her New York background. “People cheer for me,” she says, “(because) I’m like the unlikely hero.” Which is certainly true. Here is a person who didn’t fight professionally until she was thirty, after all. It’s hard to succeed as a boxer with such a late start, and even harder to succeed as a boxer when one is a woman. Still, Hardy has managed to defy the odds. She doesn’t see herself as a ground breaking icon, however. “Women’s boxing is kind of in its infancy still,” she says reflectively. “We’re talking about baby steps.” Yet, Hardy is admittedly happy with the compliments she receives. “It means a lot to me for people to consider me that way,” she says of those who view her as a pioneer.
Pioneer or not, Hardy is an individual clearly set on forging her own trail.
*Full Disclosure – Boxing Insider, where this article has been published, is a promotional outlet behind Thursday’s New Beginnings card.
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