Heather Hardy returns to boxing and looking for answers

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 27: Heather Hardy ( white trunks ) defeats Shelley Vincent ( red tights ) by Unanimous Decision during their Featherweight fight at Madison Square Garden on October 27, 2018 in New York City.
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 27: Heather Hardy ( white trunks ) defeats Shelley Vincent ( red tights ) by Unanimous Decision during their Featherweight fight at Madison Square Garden on October 27, 2018 in New York City. /

Boxer Heather Hardy returns to the ring for the first time in 20 months. She headlines Broadway Boxing on Friday, May 14. 

Heather Hardy is the former WBO featherweight world boxing champion. She only has one loss on her record and is ready to test herself in the ring once again to see if she has another title run in her.

Hardy (22-1, 4 KOs) amassed 22 victories in a row in six years, culminating in winning a world title. Her winning streak ended in September of 2019 against pound-for-pound great Amanda Serrano. Hardy dropped a decision to Serrano but has had to wait to make her ring return because of the pandemic.

When New York went on lockdown, Hardy’s means of income also shut down. Hardy trains out of Brooklyn’s Gleason’s Gym and works as a personal trainer and boxing instructor. Hardy had to get creative to make a living during the worst of the pandemic.

“Well, I got a little spot where I live in my apartment building where I could train people,” Hardy explained to FanSided. “So I started training clients in the building. We were all kind of locked down and secluded here in our apartment for months. So we got real close, and I started teaching a bunch of people boxing here.

“And then when the weather got nice in the summer, me and a handful of trainers from Gleason’s kind of hustled out to the park with our pads and stuff and just kind of sunup to sundown. We’ll be out there just grinding and get people off the street. There was like workouts were like drugs in New York City over the summertime.”

Hardy has had to fight her way through life. The pandemic was just another obstacle to her, and now she is ready to make her way back into the ring after a 20-month layoff. Looking back at her lone loss against Serrano, Hardy didn’t learn much that she didn’t already know. Her biggest problem was fighting at too low of a weight class.

Heather Hardy moves up in weight when she battles Jessica Camara on Friday, May 14

“I knew that my technique wasn’t quite as good as hers [Serrano],” said Hardy. “I knew that I didn’t have the power she had. I knew that I wasn’t really performing at my best at that weight class. But she challenged me to a fight and had to take it, right? Like, I knew I had to take it, and I’m a fighter. I’m an Irish fighter. I knew that no matter what, I had a chance. I thought I had a chance, you know, so I don’t think I learned anything about myself that I didn’t already know going into that fight.”

Hardy fights Jessica Camara on Friday, May 14, in a Broadway Boxing event from Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  She’s moving up two weight classes to fight as a lightweight. Hardy revealed how much of a struggle it was to make 126 pounds in the past.

“It was hard for me to make weight the last two years of my career,” said Hardy. “I mean, even when I fought Amanda, I was in the best shape of my life. And the morning of weigh-in, I was spitting in the cup, three days no water. I was a mess just getting to that 126, so I knew, especially after putting on weight with COVID, I put on nearly 30 pounds, that there was no way I was going to come back and be able to hit 26 again.”

Hardy feels energetic and healthy headed into her contest with Camara.

“It’s so foreign to me to just have this kind of energy,” said Hardy. “My last sparring session was great. I could have probably went four more rounds.”

At 39 years old, Hardy feels fantastic but won’t know how her body reacts until she gets into the ring. She wants to be a world champion again but doesn’t know if she can reach those heights again. This next fight is her way to find out.

“I don’t have to prove nothing, but I love boxing,” said Hardy. “And the thought of retiring when I might still have something in the tank is what kind of turned me back.”

Hardy added, “Let’s see, do I want to make another world title run? Because only one person can answer that. It’s me. And I’m not going to know until after I get out of the ring and get to digest. Was this worth it? Do I want to do it again? And am I willing to invest my body in another year or two of this sport?”

Hardy is real with herself. She’s asking herself tough questions with big career implications, but she’s content with all she has accomplished but isn’t ready to walk away until these questions are answered.

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Watch Heather Hardy vs. Jessica Camara on Friday, May 14, on UFC Fight Pass. Coverage begins at 8:30 p.m. ET.