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Heather Hardy-Shelly Vincent II: “Guaranteed Fireworks.”

By: Sean Crose

“The fans want to see us hit each other for them,” said Heather Hardy on a Monday conference call to promote her rematch with Shelly Vincent this Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. The bout, which will be aired live on HBO, will be for the vacant WBO women’s featherweight title. The first fight between the two women, a 2016 thriller in Coney Island, was one of the best fights of the year and ended with Hardy winning a majority decision. This second go round between the two fighters is set against the backdrop of supposed bad blood between Hardy and Vincent.

Photo Credit: WBO Twitter Account

“She was in New York,” said Vincent of the leadup to her first battle with Hardy. “I was over here in New England… it got personal off of things that were said.” Still Vincent is open to admitting that there was a practical nature to the proceedings. “It all just started me trying to make a fight.” When asked about the supposed bad blood, Hardy supported Vincent’s take on things. “That pretty much sounds about right,” she said in response to Vincent’s explanation.

“I mean, this is a job for us,” said Hardy.

Still, Vincent made it clear during the call that boxing requires a degree of aggression, and even savagery. “We’re definitely going to go in there,” the Rhode Islander said, “and try to rip each other’s head off.” In truth, Hardy isn’t in the ripping off of heads business – not because she’s squeamish, but simply because she’s not a knockout artist, a fact her resume of 21-0, with only for knockouts. “Training for this fight has gone very well,” she claimed. “I have never had so much time to prepare for a bout so it’s been a really fun, challenging camp.”

The first battle between the two was a highly regarded affair, and rightly so. The fact that a rematch was made in an era where rematches are often lacking shows just how good a scrap the original battle between Hardy and Vincent was. I asked both fighters if they feel they now have to live up to expectations set by their original bout. “I don’t know if this fight will be anything less or anything more,” said Hardy. “We’re gonna do it again.”

“It’s guaranteed fireworks,” said Vincent. The 23-1 fighter later added there was “no added pressure,” for Saturday’s match. “We’re just going to go out there and work and give it our all,” she said. As Hardy herself said earlier in the call: “I don’t think you necessarily need to go in there and hate each other in order to beat them up.”

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