Heather Hardy vs. Shelly Vincent 2: Rematch should be on the main stage
The back-and-forth slugfest that took place at the Ford Amphitheater in Coney Island, New York just over two years ago should have people and television networks clamoring for a rematch. Heather Hardy and Shelly Vincent went straight for each other for 10 rounds in one of the most exciting women’s boxing matches — no, scratch that — boxing matches of 2016.
Forget who won and who lost.
Their efforts spoke to a much bigger point. It’s time to give women’s boxing the respect it deserves and allow it to have its place among mainstream boxing, instead of relegating it to the un-televised portion of an undercard as is too often the case.
Really, why is that such a hard concept to grasp? The idea that women’s boxing doesn’t carry the same importance as men’s boxing just isn’t correct. This fight surely carries importance to Hardy and Vincent, who like many of their male counterparts, are doing it to make a living and support families. The human element that attracts so many to boxing is also there to be explored as both fighters have surely overcome struggles to get where they are today. Most importantly to boxing fans, they each can and are willing to put on entertaining fights, as evidenced by their matchup in 2016.
The athletic ability showcased by women’s boxers is not new. Laila Ali opened the country’s eyes to that concept in the early 2000s, as she often was placed on the televised undercard of many fights and even carried her own pay-per-view main event versus Jacqui Frazier-Lyde. The obvious Fraizer Ali connotation aside, if Ali couldn’t fight, she wouldn’t have been on TV as much as she was. She was an entertaining fighter, regardless of her last name. Need more proof that women’s boxing isn’t soft? Youtube “Ann Wolfe knockout” and that should be all the proof needed.
Some may resent the fact that fighters like Ali and Hardy have utilized their boxing skills, personality and looks too heighten their careers or to take advantage of other opportunities outside of boxing. That there true motivation was and is to springboard into different careers. Why is that a problem? Many male fighters have done the same thing. George Foreman did it by selling grills. Victor Ortiz has been in movies. “Sugar” Ray Leonard was often revered for his looks and does anyone remember the early marketing attempt of Bob Arum, bringing fans “Pretty Boy” Floyd Mayweather?
I should know more about women’s boxing but that’s my point: Due to not having the ability to see matches no one can adequately follow it, which prevents it from growing and is a big missed opportunity for boxing overall.
No one is suggesting that every woman’s fight should receive TV time. However, credible, impactful, and entertaining fights should be given a platform.
Both Hardy and Vincent have agreed to an Oct. 27 rematch to be held on the undercard of the Sergiy Derevyanchenko Daniel Jacobs fight on HBO. The network has a golden opportunity to highlight the two fighters on their merit and athletic ability. The fight is for a featherweight world title and presents many interesting questions. Can Vincent make necessary changes to effectively lessen Hardy’s offensive attack? What can Hardy do to have a repeat performance of their first match?
Peter Nelson, vice president of HBO Sports, needs to find a way to televise this fight complete with Jim Lampley, Roy Jones and Max Kellerman analysis, fighter vignettes and all. In the all-too-often complex world of televised boxing, where good fights can be difficult to find, the decision to show this one should be quite simple. It’s the right thing to do.
Actually, it’s a no-brainer.
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