Posted on 08/01/2023
By: Sean Crose
It wasn’t all that long ago that popular Brooklynite Heather Hardy appeared to pretty much be finished as a professional fighter. Although she had reached the pinnacle of boxing success by winning a world title, she subsequently lost that WBO featherweight belt to Amanda Serrano in her first title defense. Hardy then went on to lose again, this time to Jessica Camara, in a return fight a year and a half later. Again, the gritty New Yorker looked to have come to the end of what had been an otherwise successful career. No one at the time could have suspected that Hardy would be entering the biggest match of her life a full two years later.
Yet here Hardy is, ready to fight Serrano once more. Only this time it isn’t just for the WBO title. It’s for the undisputed featherweight championship of the world. Her rematch with Serrano this weekend in Dallas, which will be the co-main event of the Jake Paul-Nate Diaz card, is nothing short of notable. Serrano is expected to win handily, of course (she bested Hardy by unanimous decision the first time around, after all), but Hardy’s comeback – which began last fall – indicates the former titlist is capable of surprises.
Although Hardy’s return fight in October of last year, against Calista Silgado, earned Hardy her 23d win against 2 losses, it looked as if “The Heat” had started to cool down somewhat. Still, Hardy kept moving forward, and in her follow-up fight this past February, looked extremely impressive in a victory over a very game Tannya Cardoso. For Hardy that night showed an energy level and discipline notable for any fighter, much less one in her forties.
And now comes the Serrano rematch, a co-main event of a pay per view broadcast. Hardy no doubt has last May on her mind. That was when Katie Taylor lost her undisputed junior welterweight crown to Chantelle Cameron in a major upset. If Taylor, who squeaked past Serrano in a 2022 war, can be shocked, so, no doubt, can Serrano be. Determined as she is, however, Hardy isn’t going to show hubris or cockiness leading up to this Saturday’s scheduled ten rounder. In fact, she’s openly grateful for the opportunity to face Serrano again.
“I have to let my talking do inside that ring,” she tells me via text. “I have so much gratitude towards Amanda and Team Serrano. Everyone knows she’s on top, she calls the shots, she didn’t have a mandatory to defend her titles but she chose to put them up and fight me on this show.” Gracious? Indeed, but Hardy is eager to win this weekend, as well. “I promised her and her team a good fight,” she says of Serrano, “and it’s almost showtime. We care coming to Dallas. Heat 2.0.”