Heather Hardy, the fighting pride of Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn got her hand raised Thursday night, scoring a majority decision over Taynna Cardoso while honoring “my papa, my dad, my coach, my mentor, Hector Roca.”
The victory at Sony Hall in NYC, atop a Boxing Insider promotion, brought her to 24-2, and kept hope alive for her to land that big one, a title shot where she can prove that age is just a number.
The judges scored it like this: John Signorelli saw it 76-76, Georgi Gergov 78-74 for Hardy, 77-75 Hardy from Waleska Roldan. NYF had it 79-73 for Heather Hardy, who finished her second fight at lightweight, 135 pounds max.
Hardy didn’t “look 41” against Cardoso, a 34 year old from Brazil, who entered with a 5-1 record. She came out blazing in round one, going right at Cardoso, seeking to send a message about her intent from the get go. Cardoso said she has about 260 amateur fights under her belt, so no, it’s not like there was an obvious difference in skill set on display to fans in Manhattan. Hardy’s right hand looked pretty nasty as she raked Cardoso on the ropes. The corner (Martin Gonzalez, Henry Deleon) called for body work as Hardy went after a retreating Cardoso, who maybe didn’t want to start the bout at such a pace.
Heather Hardy had “Papa” stitched onto her trunks, to honor the sage of Gleason’s Gym. In round two, the corner yelled “Go back to the body, Heather” and she complied, dropping her hands down and smacking the sides of Cardoso with both hands. Hardy typically likes to bring her shots from outside in, her foes should have excellent peripheral vision. Cardoso sought to score with right uppercuts, and she landed a bit, but not enough to take the round. Hardy’s volume edge looked obvious.
In the third, patrons and watchers on YouTube/social media platforms saw Hardy snag the round on the NYF card. She was busier, and landed the harder shots as well. In round four, once again Hardy showed she didn’t fear Cardoso’s pop, she bore in on the Brazilian from second one. Cardoso had some luck when she sought to change the angle, when she slid laterally or back a half step, to giver herself room. Hardy got the round with more volume in the last minute, after a first minute which looked pretty even.
In the fifth, more of the same, pretty much. Hardy’s hand speed dropped a notch, but she surged forward. The best connect of the round came for Heather Hardy, she hung an overhand right that landed clean on Cardoso, who’d been backed into the ropes. Hardy mostly fired power shots, her jab got employed now and again. Cardoso’s energy and output were on point late in the round, which could have gone either way, though NYF thought Hardy’s volume won it for her.
In round six, Hardy worked well in the first minute, going high then low, mixing placement. Hardy made Cardoso look to clinch with 20 seconds to go, and she cemented the 10-9 by backing Cardoso up to end the round. You could easily see Hardy up 6-0 to this point.
Heather Hardy started well in the seventh, she gave herself room to work, firing at an advantageous distance from Cardoso to start the round strong. The Brooklyner clearly outworked Cardoso in the first half of the round. The last half looked tighter, but Hardy once again enjoyed an output edge, and also, she slipped a couple shots deftly, so maybe got rewarded for her ring generalship.
Analyst Curran Bhatia told viewers that “she’s showing she has one run left in her tonight,” referring to a title shot, when Hardy started the eighth flurrying. Cardoso did indeed have some luck with her left, jabbing and hooking in the first half. Bless both, they traded to end the round, which was tight. You can watch the fight, and whole card, here.
POSTSCRIPT: Heather Hardy was asked about how it felt without Papa Roca? “It was definitely an adjustment not having him in the locker room,” she told NYF on Friday. “The corner is work time, I was in there focused. Overall, the girl had almost 300 amateur fights and was on the Brazilian Olympic team. The guys told me not to give her time to think, just stay digging in that ass nonstop. So that’s what we did. I was conditioned to fight all 8 rounds, no steps back.”
Give yourself a grade, please.
Hardy: “I didn’t love how I boxed last night, but I’ll take an ugly win over a pretty loss. My heart won that one. This Heather Hardy is genuinely happy. Just what Roca wanted.”