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Hard-hitting Hardy: Gerritsen Beach native clinches featherweight championship

Dominating from distance: Heather “The Heat” Hardy settled into a rhythm after putting some space between herself and Shelly Vincent as the two battled for the World Boxing Council International Women’s Featherweight Championship at Ford Amphitheater in Coney Island on Aug. 21.
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She’s still perfect.

Gerritsen Beach native Heather “The Heat” Hardy defeated Shelly Vincent by majority decision in 10 rounds to clinch the World Boxing Council International Women’s Featherweight Championship at Ford Amphitheater in Coney Island on Aug. 21.

Hardy improved to 18–0 in the ring in front of the hometown crowd, a feat she was particularly proud of, she said.

“This is everything I dreamed of,” Hardy said. “I thought I won pretty convincingly. She only really caught me a few times the whole fight. I knew that I had to be tactical to win the fight.”

The bout was scored 99–91, 95–95, and 97–93, but it was far from an easy fight. Hardy found herself dodging instead of landing consistent hits early on, but the champ started to establish her rhythm down the stretch. As soon as she was able to distance herself from Vincent, however, Hardy’s punches hit their targets and, by the final bell, she landed 34.4 percent of her attempts — including more than 50 percent of her power punches in the final two rounds.

“I really needed to establish my distance and my reach,” Hardy said. “My jab was key tonight. Keeping her at bay. She had some really strong body punches, and the key was keeping them away from me — not getting heat by them. Anytime she kind of crowded me, she got off more crowded than me. I kept the fight on the outside.”

It was a meaningful victory for Hardy, who has been anxious to square off against Vincent for years. It was also the first time in decades a women’s match was broadcast on national television, and Hardy was determined to put on a good show.

“I don’t want to say I was nervous, but the nerves were there,” Hardy said. “It was kind of like that Christmas Eve, I can’t go to sleep feeling and that was 10 times more than ever tonight, because it was something that had so much build-up.”

Vincent was adamant she won the fight long after the final bell had sounded and even called on Hardy for a rematch — in her Rhode Island hometown.

“I came here and everybody told me I’d get robbed,” Vincent said. “I’ll take the rematch but I’m not playing by these rules. I want her to come up to Providence.”

The rest of the ticket

Hardy wasn’t the only fighter who dominated in the ring.

Errol Spence Jr. notched a sixth-round knockout, taking out Italy’s Leonard Bundu (33–2–2) in the International Boxing Federation Welterweight World Title Eliminator. It was Spence Jr.’s 18th career knockout as he delivered the final punch on a hard left hook that nearly forced Bundu out of the ring.

“I thought my performance was great,” Spence Jr. said. “I was shaky in the first and second rounds, but was able to get into a rhythm the rest of the fight. Once I was able to catch his rhythm and break him down, I knew I had him.”

Brooklyn natives Julian Sosa and Chordale Booker also posted victories in the early-card fights.

In the end, however, it was Hardy’s night as she continued to cement herself as one of the most dominant fighters in the sport.

“This is definitely a win for women’s boxing,” Hardy said. “We had great pace throughout and kept the fans invested the whole time.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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