Heating up: Brooklyn boxing star still perfect despite out-of-ring distractions

Heating up: Brooklyn boxing star still perfect despite out-of-ring distractions
Photo by William Thomas

She was elated — and frustrated — at the same time.

Brooklyn-based boxer Heather Hardy was happy after defeating Edina Kiss by unanimous decision to retain her World Boxing Council International Featherweight crown in a championship bout at Barclays Center March 4, but her joy quickly turned to anger when she realized her family and fans hadn’t seen it. The arena doors opened just as Hardy’s fight got underway, and she fought in front of a mostly-empty arena for much of her match. The champ was visibly emotional even as she was declared the winner.

“They told me I could either go first or eleventh,” Hardy said. “I sold over 200 tickets, $37,000 in tickets, and how am I going to make these people wait until one in the morning? So I said I’d rather fight first. I didn’t realize it would be the fourth round before they’d be letting people in. For four rounds, I was just thinking, ‘Oh my God, my mom’s not there. She’s missing. They spent $400 on tickets on this fight and they’re missing this.’”

The Gerritsen Beach native still managed to control the bout from the opening bell. She had waited a long time for this fight — her last ring action was on Aug. 21. After weeks of training hard, Hardy was determined that nothing, even the lack of an audience, was going to stop her from keeping her title. She landed punch after punch, taking advantage of Kiss’ timid approach.

“It was great in there,” she said. “I have such top-level sparring partners that — I hate to say it — fights are not like, ‘Oh my God, what’s happening?’ I really see it all in the gym.”

Hardy said she was surprised Kiss didn’t attack more, given the Budapest, Hungary native’s reputation for quick punches, hard hitting — and eight previous knockouts.

“I was going in there and expecting bombs,” she said. “But I kept her away and she didn’t want to come in too close to exchange. Good boxing counters strong punching.”

Hardy was never particularly challenged in the fight — earning 80–72 and 79–73 match scores from the two judges. She kept her perfect record intact, and is set to fight again next month. Still, the disappointment left a sour taste in her mouth.

“I respect that my promoters did everything they could,” Hardy said. “You walk such a fine line between becoming that woman who’s always complaining, but then also being that woman who knows what she deserves. I just kind of felt, wow, I don’t think I deserve that.”