By: Hans Themistode
Heather “The Heat” Hardy, had the aforementioned heat placed on her by the New York State Athletic Commission when she was suspended following her recent ring appearance in September earlier this year.
In a sport that loves no one, Hardy had become one of the most beloved fighters in women’s boxing. Before suffering defeat at the hands of Amanda Serrano, Hardy won her first 21 contest in the boxing ring. Unlike most fighters who only look for self, Hardy fought to shorten the pay gap between men and women. She also spoke up about the lack of exposure that women often received.
Hardy’s fighting ability stretched beyond the ring as she also entered the world of MMA. No matter the sport, Hardy competed at a very high level and showed grace and humility when she either came out victorious or when she suffered a setback.
The news of Hardy failing a post fight drug test was jaw dropping. If Hardy was a cheater, then hell, who wasn’t? As soon as the results of her failed test came to light, Hardy did her best to stop the narrative of her being labeled a cheater.
She didn’t give an excuse as to why she failed the test, but more so a reason. There’s a difference.
An excuse gives reasons as to why the perpetrator did what was alleged against them. A reason on the other hand, is simply telling you what actually happened.
What slips the minds of media members and fans alike, is that not only is Hardy a champion level boxer and MMA fighter, but she is also a woman.
During the build up of her contest against Serrano, Hardy was dealing with bloating and wanted to make sure she was 100 percent before stepping into the ring against Serrano. The substance she took was to deal with the bloating, and nothing more.
“I have been an advocate for testing for years,” said Hardy. “I never took a PED and never will — they are dangerous to the user, opponents, sparring partners, while also compromising the sport. Ignorance is no excuse, which is why I volunteered to work with the WBC to bring greater awareness to all aspects of the rules, including those pertaining to prescription meds.”
Originally, the NYSAC gave her a six month ban along with a ten thousand dollar fine. After presenting her case and her reasoning, she was given a lighter sentence. But she will still be lighter in the pockets as the ten thousand dollar fine will stand. Still, Hardy could less about the money, as long as her reputation remains intact she’s a happy woman.
“The opportunity to fight again is what I’m grateful for. There was a small percentage of boxing fans who truly believed I was a cheat. It bothered me to read their comments (on social media) but I really appreciate the incredible support from all of my fans who knew that I am a clean fighter. To be able to return to the ring with my reputation as a clean fighter is the most important thing. I’m a boxer, this is what I do.”
With this mess now behind her, Hardy will look to resume her career as a boxer and MMA fighter in 2020.
By: Hans Themistode
When you play sports, there is a winner and a loser. There is simply no way around it.
Sure you can have rare instances where the game ends in a tie, but even then, there is a winner and a loser. It doesn’t matter if that contest was close or just a blow out. Someone has to feel the pain of losing.
Former WBO Featherweight champion Heather Hardy entered the ring on Friday September 13th, against Amanda Serrano as an underdog. A big one. Serrano was a seven division world champion and arguably the best female fighter around.
For as good as Hardy has been in her career, she was never thought to be on that level.
When the two signed on the dotted line to face each other, many were wondering out loud, just what round would Hardy get knocked out in? Thoughts of her pulling off the victory were non existent.
After building up their fight for quite sometime, the night finally arrived.
Many who watched Hardy walk to the ring couldn’t help but feel sorry for the 37 year old. She was walking straight into an ass kicking. When the opening bell rang, it was exactly what happened.
Hardy, who is normally a slick boxer and avoids major shots, was hit with everything in that opening round. Serrano, knocked her around the ring and made it apparent that Hardy was not in her league. Hardy did her best to fight back but the onslaught was too much. She spent the majority of that round with her hands up simply trying to stay up right as she staggered across the ring. A cut opened up on her right hairline, a bad one. You could hear screams from the crowd asking the referee to stop the fight.
Some how Hardy made it out of the round, but no one at that point thought the fight would last much longer.
Fighters understand when they are outclassed in the ring and often times accept defeat. Hardy could have easily bowed out gracefully and realized that she wasn’t going to win that fight.
Maybe that’s what you would do, but not Heather Hardy.
Round two was a whole different story. Hardy got more comfortable and confident in the ring. She landed a few nice shots and got back to slipping punches. She had clearly found her rhythm. The screams from the crowd that were asking the referee to stop the fight, turned into cheers for Hardy and her efforts.
Current WBA Super Middleweight champion Alicia Napoleon couldn’t stay in her seat. She constantly paced back and forth in media row cheering her friend Heather on.
Based on how the first round went, it was amazing to see that Hardy made so many adjustments in the ring. She no longer wanted to sit back and let Serrano bring the fight to her. Instead, much like her nickname, she brought the “Heat” all night long.
Serrano looked some what exasperated. How could a woman who seemingly had nothing to offer in the first round be so invigorated as the contest went on? That’s just how Heather Hardy is.
When the final bell rang, everyone knew that Serrano won that contest. She was the better fighter and she showed as much on fight night, but Hardy showed that she belonged.
The end result of the contest resulted in Hardy losing her Featherweight title. Something she had worked her whole career to obtain. She also lost her undefeated record as well.
It may have been a loss on paper but Hardy has already won.
Throughout the entire career of Hardy she has fought for all women and equality. Before Hardy came along, women’s boxing was often times cast aside. Now? It has earned the respect of many. Women have such as Claressa Shields and Katie Taylor have headlined shows on major networks, you think that is a coincidence? Not at all. It’s because of Hardy.
Women’s boxing may not and most likely will not ever get the same fame and adulation as the men do, but thanks to Hardy they are getting more and more opportunities.
Hardy could have sat back with her title and faced a lesser opponent. She could have milked her title and walked around with her championship for years to come, but that isn’t what she wanted.
“Risk over Regret.” Are the words that Hardy wrote on her Instagram post. Those are words that we should all live by.
Her title might be gone and her precious 0 in the loss column is also, but Hardy is forever a winner.
By: Hans Themistode
What a weekend to be a fight fan.
On September 13th, in New York City, at the Hulu arena in Madison Square Garden, Devin Haney is going to be taking on Zaur Abdullaev. Both guys are undefeated and will be looking to establish themselves as one of the best in the division.
The following day in Las Vegas, Nevada, Lineal Heavyweight champion Tyson Fury will be taking on Otto Wallin. At this point in the career of Fury he has been become must watch television.
Photo Credit: Matchroom Boxing Twitter Account
Also to make fight fans even more excited we have a monster card over at the UFC this coming Saturday as well.
To sum it all up, there are fights just about everywhere this weekend.
Every contest will be significant but none will be more important than the women’s showdown between WBO Featherweight champion Heather Hardy and seven division champ Amanda Serrano. Not only will Hardy’s title be on the line but so will the interim WBC belt as well.
Forget about the titles for a second and just look at the matchup.
All Hardy has done during her entire career is win, win, win and win some more. Her boxing skills are second to none and the heart that she puts on display time after time is inspiring. It took her six long years but last year she won her first world title. Something that she had long been dreaming of.
“I cemented my place in boxing history,” said Hardy when she first won her world title. “I will forever be remembered as a champion.”
She’s been a great fighter for quite sometime now. She hasn’t backed away from a challenge, even as she jumped into the world of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). While she admits that fighting in the octagon is a difficult challenge, it will pale in comparison to when she takes on Serrano.
“She’s pound for pound the best fighter out there right now, but I’m ready. I’m the toughest girl that I know.”
Tough is exactly what Hardy will need to be if she wants to be successful on Friday night. Serrano isn’t just beating her opponents, she’s destroying them. She has stopped nine of her past eleven opponents. She has also jumped from weight class to weight class taking titles and leaving destruction every place she has gone.
Serrano will of course, be considered the favorite going into this contest but she isn’t paying attention to it. She understands just how good Hardy is.
“There is a reason why I choose Heather for this contest,” said Serrano. “I know how good of a fighter she is. I’m fully prepared and we will give you guys a show on Friday night.”
This weekend might be filled with several fights but just about everyone knows how they will play out. Tyson Fury should make a short night against Otto Wallin. Devin Haney will box circles around Zaur Abdullaev and Jaime Munguia should pick up an easy victory, but Amanda Serrano and Heather Hardy is a true 50/50 fight.
It’s the one contest that everyone should be tuned into this weekend.
By: Hans Themistode
Whenever a big fight is announced in the sport of boxing, both fans and media alike begin to think of the matchups. Errol Spence Jr vs Terrence Crawford, Vasyl Lomachenko vs Gervonta Davis, Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury and the recently announced rematch between unified Heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz and former crown holder Anthony Joshua. All of these fights would draw massive crowds as the intrigue surrounding them would otherworldly.
Boxing seems to forget that it isn’t just men who fight.
WBO Featherweight champion Heather Hardy and Amanda Serrano is the true definition of a super fight, no matter the gender.
Women’s boxing has made tremendous strides over the past few years. With the help of fighters such as Claressa Shields, Christina Hammer and Katie Taylor to name a few, women’s boxing has seriously taken off.
Both Heather Hardy and Amanda Serrano, represent some of the biggest names in the sport. Hardy currently holds an undefeated record of 22-0 with 4 knockouts. She also is the current WBO Featherweight title holder. Her abilities in the ring are second to none as she has cruised to victory after victory in her pro career.
Her opponent on September 13th, Amanda Serrano, may not hold the unblemished record that Hardy does, but with just one pro defeat to her name, she holds something that Hardy is looking to grab for herself. Worldwide recognition as the best women’s fighter in the world.
Serrano, has managed to capture world titles in seven different weight classes. Only Manny Pacquiao’s record of eight weight class titles have bested what she has done. Still, she hasn’t fought anyone with the boxing ability of Hardy.
The same can be said for the WBO champion as well. Sure her undefeated recorded looks great on paper, but Serrano will undoubtedly be the toughest foe she has ever faced.
Earlier this year, Claressa Shields defeated Christina Hammer in a contest that was also a super fight in its own right. This contest that will take place on September 13th, at Madison Square Garden, will have a chance to not only surpass the hype of the Shields vs Hammer contest but, it will also be one of the very best fights of the year.
Men receive the lions share of the publicity in the sport of boxing, but at least for one night, the women will shine just as bright.
By: Hans Themistode
Clarissa Shields and Christina Hammer aren’t the only two women looking to make their mark.
Amanda Serrano (36-1-1, 27 KOs) and Heather Hardy (22-0, 4 KOs) have reportedly agreed to meet each other in the ring later this year. If this contest were to take place as expected, it could be one of the biggest fights in the recent history of women’s boxing.
At this moment there is no date, nor is there a specific venue that is being targeted. Although the fight is expected to take place this year, the boxing world will have to wait. In addition to being the WBO Featherweight champion, Hardy, is also a mixed martial artist. She is in fact scheduled to return to the cage on June 14th at Madison Square Garden under Bellator Promotions.
In terms of what weight class this contest would take place it appears as though Serrano is heading to Hardys division. In a recent tweet Serrano seemed to have no issues at all taking her talents to her opponents weight class.
“Looks like I’m going to join the Unified Champions. I’ll be fighting for the 126lb title soon.”
Hardy won’t exactly have a huge advantage as Serrano held the WBO Featherweight title in 2016 before dropping down to the Super Bantamweight division to win a title there.
Women’s boxing has a plethora of great fighters, but Serrano has a strong claim as the very best at this current moment. She has won world titles in an unprecedented seven weight divisions. To put that in perspective only one boxer in history has won titles in more weight classes, Manny Pacquiao.
With matches such as Shields vs Hammer taking place this weekend and Serrano vs Hardy supposedly on track for sometime this year, women’s boxing is truly heating up.
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.”
By: Bryant Romero
Heather “The Heat” Hardy (20-0, 4 KOs) makes her return to ring on April 21 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn after nearly a full year away from the sport where she will be a part of the Broner vs Vargas undercard. For the past year, Hardy had been competing in Bellator where she currently holds a 2-1 record as a mixed martial artist. But is now ready to return to the ring and do what she loves and does best. However, Hardy acknowledges that there may be ring rust apparent after nearly a year away from the sport.
“There is definitely a little ring rust but I’m not feeling weird or nervous at all,” Hardy said. “I jumped into a camp about a week and half ago and I’m already seeing huge improvements. It’s just a matter of getting my body back into the boxing mode and not the cage.”
Her next opponent is a late replacement in Iranda Paola Torres (12-2-1, 5 KOs) who stepped in as Ana Julaton would unexpectedly announce her retirement from combat sports. Hardy is not bothered by the change in opponent but was surprised to hear of Ana’s retirement who Hardy defeated in her last appearance at Bellator this past February.
“I was really surprised, but you have to respect that Ana was a champion for a lot of years and people are saying ‘oh she just don’t want to fight you.’ I’m sure there is a lot more into it,” Hardy said.
“Ana has never back down or was afraid to get into a fight. The boxing industry is a hard industry to love. I say it all the time if I didn’t love it so much I wouldn’t be able to put up with it. So I’m sure it had some to do with why she’s going to retire.”
Hardy’s next fight is considered a tune-up but it’s an important bout for her to gain some momentum towards a world title opportunity. She also reveals there are only 3 fights that she wants in boxing. Boxinginsider would then ask when does she expect a world title shot if all goes well against Torres on April 21?
“I spoke to the guys and told them. Obviously, I wasn’t begging for a title shot. I haven’t been in the ring in a year.
“I definitely got to get into the momentum of things. That and two other fights I want to do when it comes to boxing.
“I’m a 126 pound champion, I’m number 3 in the world and I’d like to fight number 2 and number 1. I would like to start talking to the guys after this fight to see when it would make sense.
“I know there’s some stuff going on at the Barclay’s Center in August and I would love to get a big fight lined up for that,” Hardy told boxinginsider.
And as for Bellator, will she be returning to the cage in the near future?
“Yes I will be fighting in Bellator in June. I’ll be ready in June for what might come up,” Hardy said.
By: Jose Cuevas
We were treated to the first MMA versus Boxing superfight in Conor McGregor versus Floyd Mayweather back in August of 2017. Many experts argued the fight was a blatant cash grab, a farce, and even a circus.
The fight illustrates the challenge that comes along with making a fight between a Mixed Martial Artist and a Boxer. They are cousins of one another, but they are two completely different disciplines.
One may think an elite Mixed Martial Artist should, key word should, be able to hang in the ring with an elite boxer. That proposition is absurd, mainly due to the fact that Boxers must account for only using their fists in combat. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that one form of combat is more than the other. Boxers must master controlling the distance between themselves and their opponent, use of their footwork to properly leverage all of their punches, learn to counter effectively while slipping or catching punches, etc… While mixed martial artists must try and master as many disciplines as possible.
How many times in the cage have we seen individuals proficient in wrestling or judo dominate strikers in the cage? Mixed Martial artists, to their credit, have the difficult task of being prepared for every scenario, they need to be good strikers, kickboxers, wrestlers, and submission specialists. This is why Conor McGregor lost against Floyd Mayweather. Floyd had decades of experience mastering footwork, mastering counterpunching, and mastering the sport of boxing…while Conor was proficient at best but not a master at the highest level.
Think about multitasking…MMA is the perfect form of multitasking when it comes to combat sports. While an MMA fighter is on his feet he’s thinking about what punches to land, possible takedown attempts, kicks, flying armbars, etc…the brainpower and strategy that is required to be aware of so many different variables is remarkable. Boxing exists in a controlled environment where fighters have to only worry about punches, but in only worrying about punches they use the rest of their body to maximize their punches which makes the sport unique and difficult to master at the highest level.
Imagine placing the Chess world champion in a match of Chinese checkers against the world champion, it may not make for a competitive match as the Chess expert has had years of experience mastering his/her craft in their controlled environment, while the Chinese checkers expert has done the same in their own respective controlled environment. Therein lies the key…the sports are executed in their own specific controlled environment. This isn’t the Matrix where you can plug into a program and just learn it, it takes time and lots of it.
I was recently covered Bellator 194 where Heather “The Heat” Hardy fought Ana Julaton. Hardy easily won the bout by working as hard as possible to keep the fight on her feet. Hardy is a former undefeated boxer and world champion, she undoubtedly made her mark in boxing and now hopes to make her mark in MMA. However, in her previous fight she was thoroughly annihilated by a debuting mixed martial artist.
Kristina Williams outclassed Hardy with head kicks and leg kicks and busted her wide open. Hardy was not prepared for the onslaught as Williams was an expert with her kicks and could hold Hardy’s boxing skills at bay. The fight was stopped in the second round as Hardy was bleeding profusely and she could no longer defend herself. This is a perfect example of what happens when you drop a boxer in the realm of MMA with a well-rounded mixed martial artist, it’s a whole different ball game.
Rumors have been circulating that Floyd Mayweather will enter the Octagon. That is a disastrous idea as Floyd is a master of boxing, but not a master of fighting in the uncontrolled controlled environment of MMA. However, don’t be fooled, Mayweather is a meticulous matchmaker and he may enter the cage against an opponent with little to no cage experience like CM Punk, which would level the playing field significantly. However, if he is matched with a Mickey Gall, a debuting professional MMA fighter with a lot of experience….expect him to suffer the same fate as Heather Hardy.
MMA and Boxing are too different, it will require meticulous matchmaking to make a newcomer look good in either realm. Don’t let your eyes fool you they may be combat sports…but the controlled environment of either changes the dynamic completely. The sooner we realize that the sooner we learn to respect both sports and appreciate them for what they offer to the overall realm of combat sports. In realizing that MMA and Boxing are different we can stop this madness of MMA and Boxing crossovers as rarely will you get your money’s worth…you may be getting all the spectacle you desire, but that’s a topic for another article…
By: William Holmes
Bellator MMA put on a live event at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut and featured a main event of former UFC fighters Matt Mitrione and Roy Nelson, with the winner to advance to the semi finals of the heavyweight Grand Prix.
For boxing fans however, the main event was between Heather Hardy and Ana Julaton. Hardy had a record of 20-0 as a pro boxer and Julaton had a record of 14-4-1 in boxing. However, they decided to meet first in a MMA cage.. Hardy held titles as a boxer in the featherweight and super bantamweight divisions while Julaton held titles in the super bantamweight division.
Both Julaton and Hardy are coming off of a loss in their last MMA fight.
Photo Credit: Bellator MMA Twitter Account
The opening bout of the broadcast was between featherweights Tywan Claxton (2-0) and Jose Perez (0-2). Claxton is considered by many to be a high ceiling prospect and he easily disposed of Perez by TKO at 3:39 of the second round.
Former b=Bellator champion Liam McGeary (13-2) returned to his winning ways with a third round TKO at 4:02 over Vadim Nemkov (8-3).
Ana Julaton (2-3) and Heather Hardy (1-1) met in the flyweight division and displayed that they have been training in all facets of mixed martial arts, including the grappling.
Julaton landed the first jab of the fight and Hardy answered with a leg kick before being placed in a body lock by Julaton. Julaton was able to land a few knees on Hardy when in tight, but Hardy had a decent whizzer placed in. Hardy finished the first round while attempting a side choke.
The second round started off with some brief exchanges, but Julaton’s punches appeared to lack any snap. Hardy and Julaton were clinched for much of the round again, but Julaton was able to attempt a can opener submission. Hardy landed several hard hammer fists on Julaton while she was attempting to finish a low single takedown. Hardy finished the second round by taking the back of Julaton and landing some ground and pound
Julaton looked like the more tired fighter in the third round and forced a body lock after taking two good punches by Hardy. Julaton attempted a spinning back kick when the referee broke them up but Hardy again landed more strikes when they were standing. The third round featured Julaton and Hardy locked in grappling positions, but Hardy was able to finish the round with a takedown attempt that resulted with Julaton finishing on top.
A MMA rules fight between two boxers turned into a mainly grappling affair.
Heather Hardy wins by decision with scores of 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27.
There has been talks of them re-matching in the boxing ring instead of a MMA cage and the fight was close enough for fans to want to see it.
By: Bryant Romero
Undefeated pro boxer Heather “The Heat” Hardy makes her third appearance in the cage at Bellator 194 on February 16 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut where she takes former boxing world champion Ana Julaton in a mma flyweight bout. Boxing Insider was able to catch up with Heather to talk about her next fight in Bellator, her passion for fighting whether it’s boxing or mma, her job as a fitness instructor, and the challenges she’s had to endure while making the transition from boxing to mma.
Photo Credit: Heather Hardy Twitter Account
BR: Are you training at Gracie’s Academy right now?
Heather Hardy: “Right now I’m at Renzo Gracie in Manhattan during the majority of my training and I train at Gleason’s in Brooklyn.”
BR: How is training going so far for this fight that’s upcoming?
HH: “It’s going great. I’ve never heard a fighter a week out of a fight to say they haven’t had a good camp. I feel good.”
BR: This is your third fight with Bellator. Obviously the money was the motivating factor for you to transition from boxing to mma. What’s been the hardest transition from one sport to the other?
HH: “Probably being able to allocate the proper amount of time for training, because I’m still taking care of my daughter, still working two jobs. I mean I’m still trying to do press and I’m doing it on 6th avenue running. Allocating the proper amount of time that’s needed to train all the different disciplines have been extremely challenging.”
BR: When it comes to the competition between boxing and the two girls that you fought in Bellator, when it comes to the striking ability, do you have respect for their striking ability, is it different?
HH: “First of all in mma they’re using 4oz gloves, so even if these girls aren’t as accurate with their punching. They’re punching with bad intentions with very little padding, so I don’t respect a punch anymore or any less regardless of who’s throwing it at me.”
BR: Besides the money factor, are you trying to accomplish something in the sport?
HH: “I just want to win some fights, get known, and maybe open up doors for bigger fights in New York City for other women.”
BR: Did you have to get your promoter’s blessing to make this transition? Did you have to go through a legal process with Lou Dibella?
HH: “Lou is like a dad to me and when I called him and asked him, you know he’s the last one that’s going to take food off my plate. And he pretty much said if this is what you really want to do. Then I’m going to let you do it.
But he didn’t have to do that. I was legally bound only to Lou. Where I’m not supposed to be competing in anything else, I couldn’t have done this without his blessing, so I’m really fortunate that I got it.”
BR: Obviously you still love boxing, you did it with not a great financial reward in return, but can you honestly say to yourself that you’re in love with mma?
HH: “I’m in love with fighting. I love to fight, I’m good at fighting. Even when I’m not good at it, I’m still better than most people would ever dreamed to be. Whether it’s mma, boxing, sword fighting, or thumb wrestling, I’m all in it.”
BR: Do you still feel you have some unfinished business in boxing?
HH: “I didn’t go anywhere, I’m boxing I think in April.”
BR: Do you see a big fight in women’s boxing with you? Maybe with one of the Serrano sisters or maybe the Top Rank Prospect Mikaela Mayer that’s coming up?
HH: “The conversation with me and Amanda (Serrano) comes up all the time. We are under the same promotional banner and we’re such good friends. We said a long time ago, if we’re going to fight, it better be for a whole lotta money, so we can go on vacation. So will a fight with her ever happen? Sure if they pay us enough.”
BR: Can you talk to me talk to me a little bit about the state of women’s boxing? Is it heading in the right direction?
HH: “Women’s boxing is certainly on the rise right now. You got Clarissa Shields headlining cards on Showtime. That’s epic, it doesn’t happen and it’s really exciting, but the problem is I’m 36 years old and I don’t have time to hope it comes around faster sooner than later.
I’m still in it, I’m still going to fight and hopefully something big will materialize but you still got to have a backup plan.”
BR: Let’s talk about your next opponent. She’s also a former champion in boxing who has transitioned. Her name is Ana Julaton. Do you have any history with her; do you know anything about her?
HH: “When I started boxing, Ana was one of the big names, everybody knew her. She was really eloquent and a well-spoken world champion who spoke out for women’s rights and equality for women’s boxers. She transitioned to mma when I was in my first year of pro boxing like 2013; I only had 3 or 4 fights.”
BR: Would you say is tougher to get in the boxing ring and fight or is it a little tougher to get in the octagon with more weapons you have to utilize?
HH: “For me it’s tougher to go in the cage because boxing isn’t tough for me. I understand every aspect of boxing. I’m still learning too many things in mma to understand everything to the extent where it’s not intimidating.”
BR: Would you say your first two fights in mma was tougher than anything you had in boxing?
HH: “I would say there was more action physically.”
BR: Who’s the best fighter in the world P4P in men’s boxing?
HH: “Right now I would say either Terence Crawford who’s an exceptional fighter. Errol Spence has really proven himself to be a problem. Lomachenko, how can you not say his name? I say those 3 guys are probably will go a long time before they get beaten.”
BR: Whatever happens on February 16th will you continue with Bellator and has UFC expressed any interest?
HH: “I haven’t had any interest in UFC; it doesn’t matter if they express it. I’m really happy with Bellator. Regardless of what happens, I’m going to keep fighting. If I walked out of my last fight and came back into the cage, I really don’t think Ana has what it takes to give me a whooping worse than the last one.”
BR: I wanted to talk to you about the shadow box Fitness classes your teaching in Brooklyn, Manhattan. What can you tell us about that?
HH: “Well, there’s a lot of new fitness inspired boutique boxing gyms popping around the city, and shadow box had contacted me, and they wanted to do something a little different. They didn’t want to be trendy boxing; they really wanted their instructors to have a good grasp of what boxing is about.
So they hired me to teach their instructors and for the last couple months I’ve been giving the instructors boxing lessons, so they now know how to teach boxing. A couple of days a week I teach classes there, just to make a little extra cash. I like it, so I teach instructional classes there now too.”
BR: What can you say about the trainers there?
HH: “All of the trainers there are great.”
BR: My final question is what’s the one thing you still want to accomplish in boxing?
HH: “I want the WBC 126 world title.”
by B.A. Cass
The fight between Francisco Vargas and Orlando Salido, which seemed to be just about everyone’s pick for 2016 fight of the year, was certainly a good fight. But thirty seconds into Round One and the two men were already in their first clinch, something that turned into a bizarre twirl. A minute later, Vargas was walking Salido back as if they were partners in an intermediate ballroom dance class. Yes, there were moments of intense onslaught by both men, and yes, the majority of the fight was brutal and entertaining. However, it was nowhere near as thrilling as the best fights of the past.
Over the week I watched nineteen fights, both female and male, from 2016. I had originally intended to watch twenty-four, but five of the female fights were not available online. (Click this link to get the full list of the fights I watched: http://bit.ly/2x65wKk.) I had two criteria for judging these matches. The first was that the opponents had to be well matched, meaning no early round knockouts or clear domination. The second was that that the fight had to be thrilling from beginning to end. This, unfortunately, disqualified Amanda Serrano, who KO’d Olivia Gerula in the first round of their fight. And while it was a pleasure watch the skilled Jelena Mrdjenovic, she was the more talented fighter in both her fights that I watched. On the male side, I was impressed by all of what I saw except by the Dillian Whyte vs. Dereck Chisora fight, which seemed to me just like two really big guys punching each other in slow-motion.
And while I was deeply impressed by the Carl Frampton vs. Leo Santo Cruz bout (I gave it runner up), one fight stood out from all the rest. And that’s Heather Hardy vs. Shelly Vincent, my pick for “2016 Fight of the Year.”
The public animosity between these two fighters has been well-documented. Vincent spent years trying to secure a fight with Hardy, going so far as to show up at Hardy’s fights to taunt and ridicule her. Their fans exchanged vicious words. Hardy’s mother may have even been involved in a physical altercation with Vincent at The Roseland Ballroom, though that has not been confirmed. In other words, this was the real deal, an epic fight three years in the making.
But put aside all that, and put aside the historic nature of the fight. (It was the first female boxing match televised in the US in over 20 years.) In fact, put aside everything and anything that didn’t take place in the ring that night at Coney Island’s Ford Amphitheater because it was, from beginning to end, a spectacular fight. There was no clinching, not a single moment when either fighter tried to save energy. Hardy and Vincent simply gave everything they had from the first bell to the last.
The New York based Hardy won by split-decision, which didn’t surprise Vincent, who had traveled from Providence to take the fight. “It being in New York, I knew from the gate that unless I knocked her out, I wasn’t going to get a W over there,” Vincent recently told me. “I had it six rounds to four. And two rounds she beat me. I admit that. She beat me those two rounds. But clearly I dominated. I kept moving forward.”
Devon Cormack, Hardy’s trainer, obviously doesn’t agree with Vincent’s analysis: “At no point did I feel Heather was losing the fight,” he told me over the phone. “She made the adjustments as the fight went on, more than Shelly did.” Still, Cormack acknowledges that it was close. “It wasn’t a perfect thing having a split decision, but I didn’t think it was that far removed, which is why I thought it made for an excellent fight.”
Vincent’s trainer, Pete Manfredo Sr., can’t figure out why there hasn’t been a rematch. All he knows is that it should have been done already. “It was the fight of the night, and it even had Errol Spence on the card that night. I thought Vincent/Hardy was a much better fight for the crowd, even the television crowd.”
Let’s be honest, though: if a rivalry like this occurred between two male boxers and their much-anticipated, widely-viewed fight ended in a close, split-decision win, the rematch would have already happened.
Still, Hardy remains hopeful for the future of women’s boxing. “If you put Holly Holm with someone like a Katie Taylor, or one with Cecilia Brækhus, that would be a huge money fight—maybe not in America but it would be a huge money fight because so much of the country follows MMA. Even when I had my first MMA fight, I got tens of thousands of new followers. I was on the MMA radio show with Ariel Hawani and like a hundred people had tweeted it out. And so the more public demand, the more popular it gets, the easier it will be.”
Let’s hope Hardy is right. Let’s hope that the gods of the boxing world come together and align the stars to make this rematch happen. In the meantime, you can see Shelly Vincent fight in person at the Fox Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino on September 15th. (Buy your tickets here: http://bit.ly/ShellyVincent). And, though her opponent has yet to be announced, Heather Hardy is set to return for her second Bellator fight on October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
Follow B.A. Cass on Twitter @WiththePunch
Heather Hardy Interview: “I still haven’t gotten the mainstream media attention that I’d like”
By: Matthew N. Becher
Heather “The Heat” Hardy is one of the top ranked female fighters in the world today. With a record of 20 wins 0 losses, she is a staple in the New York boxing scene, remaining a fan favorite at her home away from home, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Hardy is currently training for her mixed martial arts debut, June 24th on the Bellator 180 undercard at the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden. Hardy was kind enough to take a few moments to speak with us about her upcoming fight and the switch from Boxing to MMA.
Boxing Insider: What made you decide to switch to Mixed Martial Arts?
Heather Hardy: It’s not actually a switch, I’m just going to do both. The boxing was just taking a really long time to turn around. I still haven’t made a really nice paycheck out of it. I still haven’t gotten the mainstream media attention that I’d like. So I’m hoping that the MMA will bring back some attention to boxing and vice versa. This is just like another job.
Boxing Insider: For the most part, boxers do not typically adapt well to MMA. Does that concern you?
Heather Hardy: Every fighter is different. All boxers are not the same. Maybe a fighter that wasn’t as good as me didn’t adapt well. But I’ve been doing a lot of sparring with elite level fighters and I’m feeling pretty good.
Boxing Insider: How do you feel about finally fighting at Madison Square Garden? This will be your first time right?
Heather Hardy: It will be my first time as a professional. I won my Golden Gloves title there. I’m super excited to be fighting there as a professional and adding it to my resume.
Boxing Insider: You are 35 years old and highly ranked in the featherweight division, as a boxer. Do you think a title fight is going to be coming up soon?
Heather Hardy: Could be, I mean, I’m hoping for it. Right now all the girls that are holding titles are out of the country and they don’t want to come to America. Because in America they don’t pay female boxers. So I’m really hoping that we can change that and we can get one of those girls over here so I can take their title.
Boxing Insider: Could you go over there?
Heather Hardy: It’s hard because I’m signed to a promotional deal with Lou Dibella and I’m contracted under him. His fights are only here in New York, so it would require a lot of negotiations for me to fight somewhere else.
Boxing Insider: How much fighting do you think you have left in you?
Heather Hardy: It’s really hard to say. Your body is a machine. If you take care of it you have extended use for it. If you abuse your body you won’t have a long time. I take care of myself. As long as I feel good, I’ll keep going.
Female Fighters Bring Some Much Needed Excitement To The Sport Of Boxing
By: Sean Crose
I had the pleasure of watching one of the best televised fights of the year this weekend. It went down at Coney Island and unfortunately was relegated to the NBC Sports Network. That’s too bad, because the brawl I witnessed between featherweights Heather Hardy and Shelly Vincent was an all-out war, comparable in action to the much applauded Conor McGregor – Nate Diaz UFC match a day earlier. Watching the tide perpetually change between Hardy and Vincent this weekend, I kept thinking how ridiculous it is for people to claim boxing is dead. For what went on at Coney Island was, for lack of a more academic term, terrific stuff.
Truth be told, I’m not even sure who I think really won – though the decision went to Hardy. Looks like I’ll have to watch it again. In the meantime, let me bring up another female fighter who deserves all kinds of praise now that the Rio Olympics have come and gone. For America’s Claressa Shields has now won not one, but two Olympic gold medals. What’s more, she’s the first American boxer, male or female, to ever do so. After being adorned with her second gold in Rio, Shields took the first gold medal she won out of her pocket (she got that one in London back in 2012) and placed it on her shoulders along with her newest hard earned prize.
There she was, an American boxer, standing on the podium with not one, but two gold medals around her neck. If that doesn’t tell fight fans something, I’m not sure what does. Truth be told, female boxers have essentially told us fans these past few days that things aren’t always as bad as they seem. While it appears that many – though certainly not all – male boxers have taken to playing it safe, their female counterparts appear to be daring to be great.
Back to Sunday evening. Engaging with “Boxing Twitter” while watching the Hardy-Vincent bout, I noticed fight followers doing something they aren’t generally apt to do – publicly show their appreciation for the combatants. The typical online snideness seemed to have vanished as Hardy and Vincent traded one shot after another. All that was left was a sense of “wow, this is a great match.” Someone even wondered in one hundred and forty characters why women fighters aren’t getting more exposure in the fight world right now.
It was a good question. The sport really needs competitors like Shields, Vincent and Hardy. After all, action, and gold medals, go a long way.
Heather “The Heat” Hardy Interview: “I want a legitimate world title, I want to fight a legitimate world champion”
By: Matthew N. Becher
Heather Hardy is an undefeated Super Bantamweight that is a fixture in the New York boxing scene. She is signed under Lou Dibella promotions and can regularly be seen on the undercards of many major fights that take place in her native Brooklyn, at the Barclays center. In the last year alone, Hardy has fought on the undercards of Danny Garcia, Lamont Peterson, Amir Khan, Chris Algieri, Paul Malignaggi, Daniel Jacobs, Peter Quillin and Errol Spence. Hardy is the face of female boxing in New York and looks to expand her brand, if given the chance, to a wider audience. We were able to catch up with Ms. Hardy earlier this week and ask her some questions about her Past, Present and Future in the sport.
Boxing Insider: So how did you get into boxing?
Heather Hardy: I was in the middle of a lot of stuff. I was going through a divorce, and working a lot of jobs. They opened this little karate school in my neighborhood and my sister, kind of, made me go so that I could be social and have some kind of a life after I’d get home from work. After a couple weeks I had my first fight and haven’t been out of the ring since then.
Boxing Insider: You are a mainstay in the New York boxing scene. Do you want to branch out and become one of the faces of the sports? How do you get your fights televised to do so?
Heather Hardy: It’s really tough. I kind of gotten to a stage in my career, where I just keep growing and growing and it’s really just like a glass ceiling. There is nothing for me to aim for. If I was a guy that was 16-0, fighting at the Barclays center, doing all these big shows, the natural progression would be for me to be tested on television. The problem is that these networks won’t televise female fighters. They don’t even want to take a chance on a woman’s fight. It makes my growth limited and that is what I’m fighting for, lobbying the networks to give the girls a chance. The big argument with the networks is that “nobody wants to see women fight”, but the truth of the matter is I have a very small reach, I’m just one person, but I sell $30,000 worth of tickets for my shows. I prove that I can get people to come and watch me fight, so give me a bigger stage.
Boxing Insider: What are your thoughts on the double standards between Men & Women boxers; Questions pertaining to your looks or your dating life, when male boxers in the same position as you are absolutely never asked about these things?
Heather Hardy: That’s a great thing to bring that up. I was asked the question (about her dating life) and I was shocked that the interviewer asked me that. The old saying to women is “how do you balance your career and your family”, and nobody ever asks a man that. I hate to say that it is unprofessional by the interviewer, because they just ask what they think the mainstream wants to hear or see. I was surprised and sad that it became a topic of the conversation. I think they are trying to show society the soft side of the woman, that we are tough in the ring but we’re also ladies in public.
Boxing Insider: Do you pay attention to the US Women Olympic team and do you feel they will have a big impact on the sport once they become professional?
Heather Hardy: I do! There is a huge pool of talent that is being unnoticed in the female boxing scene. Not even just the girls in the Olympics, but Golden Gloves champions. I even have my eye on a couple that are coming up that I may have to train for. I hope to open a few doors, so that when these extremely talented women decide to come up in the pro ranks, they will have some more opportunities available for them.
Boxing Insider: How long until you get a World Title fight?
Heather Hardy: I don’t know. It’s a fun question, because there are so many sanctioning bodies for female world titles. I kind of said at the beginning that I don’t want to fight for a world title just to fight for a world title. I want a legitimate world title, I want to fight a legitimate world champion. I’m not really the type of fighter to call someone out, but I have a hit list of about five girls in my head that I have to go through before I can be a world champion.
Boxing Insider: What type of imprint does Heather Hardy want to leave on the sport, especially for young girls and women, when she’s all done and hangs em up?
Heather Hardy: When I first started boxing, someone told me in the amateurs, I had been fighting for 18 months. I had won eight titles, nationals, regionals, ranked #1 in national golden gloves, getting ready to turn pro in my career. I had finally found something that I was good at and one of the Pros said “Heather, don’t even bother, this is the limit for you”. It was the second time in my life that I felt why do I have to be good at something that has no future for me. When I was a kid I always dreamed of being a New York Yankee, but girls can’t play for them. If I can leave any mark on the sport, I want it to be that I was the one that made a change, that made it so girls can be on the same level as boys. Because in the end their isn’t boys and girls boxing, it’s just boxing.