“The Heat” Was “The Real Deal”
“I know she's a woman, but she's got balls bigger than basketballs.”
—Promoter Lou DiBella, on former WBO featherweight champion and Brooklyn's favorite warrior princess, Heather “The Heat” Hardy
She won, but she didn't beat her.
She might not be the “Queen of Brooklyn” now, but good luck wearing Cinderella's shoes. In so many words, that's what DiBella (who'd bounced his way over to press row full of a paternal pride) was really saying.
We all had a go at this. Former Boxing Writer's Association of America president Jack Hirsch and I form grim faces and shake our heads with respect to Heather's chances against Amanda Serrano, a poll of ringside media reveals a theme: She ain't got no shot.
At the sound of the opening bell, before a punch is even thrown, one veteran NY scribbler yells out “Stop the fight!”
It was bad.
Just for morbid reassurance I glanced down at my notes, which confirmed a glaring chasm in overall talent and ability. I charted, literally, approximately 11 advantages Amanda had over Heather. After the opening round — which felt like something out of a female Irish Rocky re-make; I winced, but not before circling the two traits Heather possessed that could possibly prolong a slaughter: grit and will. I looked around and exchanged horrified looks with a few peers.
Another unofficial poll of ringside media reveals a theme: She ain't got no shot to go much further.
Boy were we wrong. We didn't understand the fire inside of her. That resilient, ever resourceful something raging deep within responsible for the nickname.
Amanda Serrano showed up during the final press conference…
..wearing a Superman logo and entered the ring representing a female iteration of Iron-Man.
For the first two rounds, Heather Hardy was being hammered like she was in there with Thor. But then something amazing happened. Oh so briefly, she glanced over at the press after a closer round 3 and appeared to wink. Then, she took “The Heat” directly to “The Real Deal” and closed all the windows in the kitchen. All of a sudden, something out of Marvel or DC Comics morphed into a great Latina from a shared borough of Brooklyn, opposite a little Irish woman who wasn't just going to give away her fucking title. Or her heart. Or her pride. Or her dignity. And she certainly wasn't going to be stopped short of the final bell. Nuh-uh. Not after all she's been through.
Years from now, maybe at a restaurant she owns somewhere in Brooklyn called “Jackie LaMotta's” with a picture of their Raging Bull on the wall, she sits down with the Puerto Rican all-time great and says, “You know something, Amanda? I never went down. You never got me down, Amanda! You hear me, you never got me down!”