Heather Hardy comes home
“You Can’t Go Home Again” is the title of a 1940 novel by Thomas Wolfe, and the sentiment refers to the inevitable disappointment felt when one seeks to return to a place maybe better left as a memory of fond nostalgia.
That desire to return to roots, to a place where hopes and dreams first coalesced and served to launch a personality into a place of prominence, came into play Saturday night, when Heather Hardy returned to Barclays Center, and the squared circle.
The 36-year-old fighting pride of Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn, had been doing mixed martial arts for about a year, and went 2-1 in three cage fights before returning to the foundation of her fighting life.
Hardy (21-0, 4 knockouts) fought eight rounds Saturday, against Iranda Torres and, to my eye, showed some of her very best footwork and ring generalship yet, in working to evade her foe’s offensive thrusts. Often working in retreat, slithering out of harm’s way, so she could reset and make Torres follow her fruitlessly, Hardy won a unanimous decision. Scores of 79-73 and 78-74 twice, were what the three professional judges rendered and that matched my take. Not everyone agreed; some fans on site saw one woman marching forward and assumed her forward movement equaled effective aggression. Some press accounts agreed. I asked Hardy to assess the effort and also to weigh in on how it felt trying to “come home,” after an extended working vacation.
“Had I been in the flow of boxing and done this match last year, coming off my 20th win, I probably would’ve stopped the girl,” Hardy said. “It took me awhile to get in the groove. I wasn’t putting punches together, likely as a side affect of MMA training and not staying in the pocket long. But I never walked to the corner feeling like I lost a round, so anybody saying, ‘It could have been a draw,’ that is really mind-blowing to me. More than three quarters of the time, the girl wasn’t connecting, and swinging at air, all due respect.”
No surprise; the hard grinder was back at it and woke up early on Sunday morning. She worked 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., doing a commercial shoot for a wine label.
Monday, she thought more about the Saturday night scrap, in which she snagged the NABF featherweight title, and coming back to boxing.
“Boxing is about hitting more than you get hit. Movement, offense and defense. While my opponent was extremely aggressive – and major props to her for that – it wasn’t effective aggression because a majority of the time she was swinging at air. Half the time the fans aren’t happy unless it’s an all-out slugfest and unfortunately not every boxing match has to go that way,” Hardy said. “And to be honest, some media accounts I read tell me that even some very well-known boxing writers have no f**king clue what they are seeing in the ring! You can write books about boxing and still apparently not know a fish hook from a left hook. Those guys can take several seats.”
Follow Michael Woods on Twitter @Woodsy1069.
You can order the current issue, which is on newsstands, or back issues from our subscribe page.