By David A. Avila
An East Coast battle that was brewing for months finally takes place Sunday in Brooklyn.
Brooklyn’s Heather “The Heat” Hardy (17-0, 4 KOs) meets Providence’s Shelly “Shelito’s Way” Vincent (18-0, 1 KO) for the vacant WBC International featherweight title at the new Ford Amphitheater in Coney Island. The DiBella Entertainment event will be televised on the NBC Sports Network at 9 PM ET/6 PM PT. (Earlier that day, NBC will televise the fight between Errol Spence Jr. and Leonard Bundu at the same venue.)
It’s rare that female prizefighting gets an opportunity on a major fight card. It’s even rarer that a female bout is televised. Both women have proven they can sell tickets. Now, they’re looking to prove they can fight.
Bad blood has been flowing between these two. Each blames the other for the feud and what better way to settle their differences than lacing up the gloves and releasing the carnage. These women don’t play.
“People have been waiting for me to beat this girl up. Friends of mine. I haven’t been very vocal,” said Hardy, 34 (pictured in the green trunks). “When I get in the ring then we’ll show who has a big mouth and who can really fight.”
Hardy claims Vincent had ridiculed the New Yorker’s fighting style and technique through video clips and social media outlets. Anger has been simmering inside her for months.
Vincent claims Hardy is to blame.
“I just wanted the fight at first, but then it became personal with all the lies and her discrediting and slandering me,” said Vincent, 37. “A lot a things have been said and I haven’t forgotten. It’s personal now.”
No one knows exactly who started it or how it escalated to this degree. But it’s war now.
Both had short preparation for this fight. Usually they have twice as much preparation but the value of fighting on a major televised card was enough to stop eating a midnight snack.
“Lou (DiBella) called me at midnight while I was eating pizza,” Hardy said adding that it was three weeks ago. “That’s my favorite food. I like all food. I just want to eat pizza, bread. That’s it. I would be happy.”
Vincent was about to jet to Bolivia when she got the call.
“I had planned the trip to Bolivia and I lost a lot of money and had to put it off again. (Plus) I only had three weeks to get ready for this without proper rest,” Vincent said, adding that she got the news as she was exiting the boxing ring this past July 21. “I’ve wanted this fight for years.”
Not all undefeated fighters are considered the best especially in the female boxing world. Many spend their whole career matched against girls with losing records and few wins. But in this case, both have mostly fought opponents with winning records.
Vincent doesn’t feel Hardy fought quality though she has fought many of the same opponents.
“I felt they padded Heather up and hyped her for all the wrong reasons,” says Vincent. “I watched her get gifts. I know I could beat her.”
Hardy says she tires of the badmouthing.
“I have a lot of pent-up aggression. This is my time to make fun. She has been nothing but a bully. This is my opportunity to shut her up,” said Hardy who trains in Brooklyn. “Now she is going to face the music. It’s a big thing for me.”
Another reason it’s a big thing is the American audience gets a chance to see female prizefighting and why it’s such a big sell in other nations like Mexico, Argentina and Japan.
Vincent admits the reputation of female prizefighting is at stake when they step in the boxing ring on Sunday.
“It’s a foot in the door that me and Heather plan to kick all the way down,” said Vincent.
“We just got to tell everyone that it’s on. You finally get one or two fights a year on television and nobody knows it’s on,” says Hardy. “People need to know we’re out here. There are so many women out there who fight.”
The NBCSN broadcast also includes a featherweight match between Claudio Marrero (20-1, 14 KOs) and Derrick Murray (13-0-1, 5 KOs)