Eat your heart out, Bernie Campbell…
Tonight (Oct. 27) on an HBO Boxing that's been sent to hospice by new caretaker DAZN, Daniel Jacobs (34-2, 29KOs) will challenge Ukraine's Sergiy Derevyanchenko (12-0, 10KOs) for the IBF middleweight championship (10 p.m./ET) in what is said to be the main event and I won't care.
They share virtually everything (trainers, managers, over 300 rounds of sparring, etc.), and it wouldn't be surprising if they share this fight tonight as well.
This rainy night is for the girls, as I can only smile at the irony of a goodbye that hopes to have you at “Hello.” Women's Boxing has been largely disrespected and dismissed like so many newspapers of real hardworking content just thrown on a lawn. But now, the girls are going digital, to fight for the hearts of what has been predominately sexist male fans in as much as they'll fight for the WBO featherweight championship at Madison Square Garden on HBO, thanks to promoter Lou DiBella and the network's Executive VP of Sports, Peter Nelson.
On a wet and hardly dreary August day in 2016, Heather Hardy V Shelito Vincent took place on Coney Island. It was an epic affair with all of the ambiance of passion in the rain under the boardwalk. Talk about a magical first time. Every photograph I have of that event brought to mind the 1952 classic “Singin' in the rain”, starring Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds. You looked around at the Ford Amphitheater that day and realized everyone was having a great time, as evidenced by Emily Harney's classic picture in what was my NY Fights debut. But what was most memorable is that although Errol Spence was made to be a star on NBC that day, he didn't take your breath away or make anyone scream– for he clubbed Leonard Bundu in front of the fan bases of Hardy and Vincent. He still owes the girls for standing under their stolen umbrella. I hope Daniel Jacobs and the “Network of Champions” prove chivalry ain't dead.
It was the closest thing boxing will ever get to the New York Jets against the New England Patriots. Heather Hardy (21-0, 4KOs) and Shelito Vincent (23-1, 1KO) hated each other as much as those franchises still do, though I suspect they'll be friends after this is over tonight. I lived in Boston and worked in the kitchen at Gillette Stadium for the Patriots at that time as a diehard fan and wanted to cook up a win for “The Heat”. Go figure. I'm rooting for her tonight. And if you're a journalist claiming to not have a rooting interest of some sort in many fights, then you can go fly a kite in cold and inclement weather.
They are both really evenly matched, with Shelito being the more technically sound traditional fighter, while Heather has an edge in athleticism and variety. I asked both women if a KO was coming during a media call several days ago, and Heather acknowledged that was unlikely as did Shelito. But then, Heather was also quick to mention how different her preparation was then, having had just three weeks to prepare last time as opposed to over double that time now. She was also not a dual MMA fighter at the time, and credits that discipline for an added toughness and resolve for more dimension. Then, I saw yesterday's weigh-in, quite frankly the weirdest weigh-in ive ever seen in my life, as Heather is apparently facing a hybrid man/woman. I'm still processing that. I can see Shelito outworking Heather to get a W, but we'll call this a win for the girls and New York City, as Heather uses just enough moxy to coax her way into a clear UD on an historic night for women and HBO.