Heather Hardy: Former WBO featherweight champion turns down UK fight for lack of money


Former WBO featherweight champion Heather Hardy has turned down an opportunity to fight in the UK because the “money isn’t there yet.”

The 39-year-old has fought 25 times in her professional career, winning on 22 occasions, with four coming via knockout.

She held the WBO featherweight title from 2018-2019 and is ranked as the world’s third-best active featherweight by BoxRec and the fourth-best by The Ring.

Despite her experience and success, the US star has spoken out online about the lack of money awarded to female boxers for an individual fight.

The boxer tweeted: “I was just offered a fight in the UK for $20k [£14.3k] and I’m not taking it. I spent a lot of years proving myself as a fighter and no matter how much I did - it was always ‘GOOD JOB, but the money isn’t there yet.’ I’m almost 40. If it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense.”

When comparing Hardy to male featherweight boxers it’s easy to see a disparity in terms of money earned.

Gary Russell Jr. is ranked as the world’s best male featherweight and has held the WBC title since 2015. In his last fight against Mongolia’s Tugstogt Nyambayar, the American reportedly pocketed a purse of at least one million dollars, according to Sportekz. Meanwhile, Nyambayar himself took home $400,000 (£286,000).

While Russell Jr. is a big name in boxing and can therefore command such a purse, the argument that the money isn’t there for women seems profoundly flawed.

Katie Taylor, for example, has taken the sport by storm in recent years and become one of the most renowned boxers in the world. According to Sportekz, the Irish fighter has earned over a million dollars from each of her last three contests.

Though these numbers are pleasing to see, surely it is time that other female boxers from different weight classes are also rewarded for their talent. Indeed, though $20,000 may still seem like a substantial amount of money for a single fight, Hardy is clearly still worth more.

Aside from boxing, Hardy also fights in MMA –– a sport that has historically paid female fighters far more than boxing and let women headline multiple pay-per-view events.

The American has a record of two wins and two losses so far, but last fought back at Bellator 222 in June 2019.

Yet, If the champion fighter continues to be undervalued and appreciated by the boxing world, then a return to MMA may yet happen.

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