Heather “The Heat” Hardy has made quite a name for herself; rising from an abusive childhood in the tough streets of Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn and enduring homelessness and single motherhood to become the most marketable pugilist in women's boxing.
While Hardy has been a star in the ring and a captivating pioneer of sorts in the boxing world, she still hasn't been able to gain the monetary rewards or big card, pay-per-view perks that her male counterparts enjoy.
In addition to being a supreme self-promoter, Hardy's come-up is a major motion picture waiting to explode.
Hardy has spoken to TSL in the past about the gender inequities in boxing and the chauvinistic philosophies of some promoters who even in 2016 refuse to give a women with a stellar record and a burgeoning fan base a shot to make some real cheddar.
Boxing's lagging business model and, more significantly, the new bill passed by The New York State Athletic Commission that significantly increases the insurance premiums promoters have pay in order to put on fights, is hurting pro boxing in New York right now.
Rising sluggers like Hardy -- who was present at the Baddu Jack vs James Degale press conference at Barclays Center on Wednesday to discuss how the new $1M coverage requirement for each fighter in case of traumatic brain injury has already crippled some boxers financially -- are feeling the effects of a law that went into effect in September.
She dropped a bombshell on The Shadow League when she told us that she would be venturing into MMA. She's looking to have her first fight by the end of next year.
“There were a lot of factors, the biggest push was this insurance issue," Hardy told The Shadow League at Barclays Center. "I was supposed to fight in December and they canceled it because of this insurance issue and cut off that last pay check for me. I was afraid...with me having a young child to provide for and rent to pay and not knowing what was ahead for me in the next year, I thought now is the time to do this.”
With New York legend, resident and pop-culture icon Rosie Perez in attendance and proudly looking on, Hardy addressed the audience.
As the new requirements became law, notable promoters like Lou DiBella of DiBella Entertainment and Joe DeGuardia of Star Boxing are sure that it'll become increasingly harder to put on cards in the state of New York, particularly smaller cards where profit margins are tight.
That is where fighters like Hardy come in, and she’s one of the rare breed of women fighters who can get some shine on an undercard of a major championship fight in venues such as Barclays Center.
“This provision has in effect ended professional boxing in New York,” DiBella told the fans and media in attendance, most there to get a glimpse of Floyd Mayweather Jr., who spoke at the podium and represented his Mayweather Promotions employee Jack Baddu.
DiBella and DeGuardia have a lock on a major portion of New York’s boxing scene, and now both of them are seriously concerned that the increased costs will destroy the unrivaled boxing history in the city. They are prepared to move their shows on the road.
But not without a fight.
"This law needs to be changed..," DiBella griped. "It’s not OK to stop New York residents, promoters, managers fighters, inspectors... to prevent them from earning a living. It’s not fair to institute a law that went into effect on September 1... that no one in New York is able to abide by (financially)."
Insurance issues aside, MMA is the next logical step for Hardy, who is undervalued as a woman boxer and was a badass amateur kickboxer anyway.
“I’ve always been a kickboxer," Hardy told The Shadow League before taking the podium and championing her cause. "In the amateurs I was a kickboxer first … a two-time Muay Thai champion. I always cross train with kickboxing. My legs never left so about six moths ago I started working at the academy... so I’m ready man."
Looking as radiant and fit and eager as ever, Hardy can easily bring her boxing followers with her into her MMA venture with Invicta. She has the charisma, personality and tolerance for blood to captivate new MMA fans, and would rise up the MMA ladder and be one of the faces of the organization, filling a void that hasn’t been replaced since Ronda Rousey’s unexpected loss in 2015.
Hardy says she is not giving up the gloves, just venturing into other territories, maximizing her talents and making sure she can feed her daughter and keep the lights on.
“Boxing is my love. My passion," said Hardy. "I’ll be right back here at the Barclays in March fighting for my first world title hopefully. MMA is an addition, not a subtraction.”