Boxer Heather “The Heat” Hardy has watched plenty of boxing matches at the Barclays Center and each one had the same effect on her.
“Every time I go, I say, ‘I want to fight here. I want to fight here.’ ” Hardy said.
Now the Gerritsen Beach native is getting here chance — and in historic fashion.
Hardy will compete in the first-ever female boxing match at the Barclays Center as part of the HBO Boxing After Dark undercard of the welterweight title fight between champion Ruslan Provodnikov and Chris Algieri on June 14.
Even at the press conference at the arena announcing the fight last Wednesday, Hardy could hardly believe it.
“It was kind of like a dream,” she said. “Even when I got there it was kind of surreal. Then I saw them putting up my name and they gave me a seat and everything. I’m like, ‘Wow this is really happening.’ ”
The 32-year-old Hardy, who only began boxing in 2010, didn’t even find out about the fight until two days before the press conference when see saw the announcement on the arena’s Facebook page. Turns out her management didn’t want to tell her until it was official so she wouldn’t get her hopes up.
Once she heard the news, the unbeaten fighter could not keep her excitement down before spreading the word at Gleason’s gym where she trains.
“I was literally up all night like it was Christmas Eve, waiting to come in the gym and tell everybody,” Hardy said.
She sees her inclusion on this card as a landmark victory for not just her, but also for women’s boxing, and women in general.
“It’s really a privilege and an honor to be able to be the first lady to fight in the ring at Barclays,” Hardy said. “That’s a really big step for all of us. It’s just one less thing that’s impossible for the next generation of girls.”
Trainer Devon Cormack believes the time is right in Hardy’s young career for a fight like this. She isn’t afraid of the challenge or intimated by fact that she will be the first woman fighting in the Barclays’s ring, because it’s a moment she has been dreaming of.
Cormack sees Hardy beginning to blossom as a fighter, becoming more aware of her opponent and improving her defense.
“I’ve seen with her that she is understanding the art of boxing now,” Cormack said. “It’s not just I hit you and I hit you and I get hit. It’s I can hit you but you don’t have to hit me.”
It occurred to Hardy when standing out outside the Barclays Center before the press conference just how far she has come and what it took to be in this position.
“This is the biggest step I’ve taken so far,” Hardy said. “It one of those moments where you go, ‘Alright, all that hard work to get here.’ ”