Very welcome news for female fight fans, especially those of us residing in the New York area, was delivered yesterday in the form of a press release from promoter Lou DiBella heralding the arrival of what will be a quarterly series called Broadway Boxing Presents: Ladies Fight. DiBella turned up ‘The Heat’ on his announcement by revealing that former WBO world featherweight champion Heather Hardy will make her return to the prize ring on the first card in this new program of all-women’s boxing shows.
A venue has yet to be determined, nor is it known at this time whether or not spectators will be permitted to attend in person, but the events, beginning with this one on April 23, will stream live on UFC Fight Pass.
The First Lady of DiBella Entertainment, Heather Hardy was inked to a long-term contract under Lou’s promotional banner in 2012 following a win over Ivana Coleman in her third pro bout. Heather went on to rack up victories over Mikayla Nebel, Nydia Feliciano, Jackie Trivilino, Noemi Bosques (twice), and Renata Domsodi on the way to a highly-anticipated showdown against her nemesis, Shelly Vincent.
In a thrilling ten-round donnybrook broadcast on NBC Sports Net from Coney Island on August 21, 2016, Hardy edged out a majority decision win over Vincent, claiming the vacant WBC International featherweight title in the bargain. Hardy would realize her dream of becoming a world champion by beating Shelly even more decisively in their rematch at Madison Square Garden Theater two years later, in which the unspoken-for WBO featherweight belt was up for grabs. She would lose the title to Amanda Serrano the following year, snapping her 22-fight undefeated streak and leading to an admirably gutsy stint inside the MMA octagon where she went 2-2.
A lifelong Brooklyn native who fights out of world-famous Gleason’s Gym, Heather’s comeback will occur in the lightweight division on April 23, a first for her. Could this possibly hint at a future run at Katie Taylor? A matchup pitting Katie against Hardy has been teased several times throughout the years, from Taylor’s second appearance at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in 2018 to last summer when Heather threw her name into the ring as a replacement for Amanda Serrano after negotiations disintegrated between Lou DiBella and Eddie Hearn.
Before we lose ourselves in speculation, let’s focus our attention on Jessica Camara. Nicknamed ‘The Cobra’, the 32-year-old Camara, who was originally slated to face fellow Canadian Marie-Pier Houle in Quebec City on March 16, will instead be poised to aim her venomous strikes at Heather Hardy in April 23’s eight-round main event. Camara brings a 7-2 pro record to the table, having debuted in 2017 after collecting two Canadian Amateur Elite National Championships and the 2016 Brampton Cup. Camara’s last outing was in February 2020 when she was narrowly outpointed by Ladies Fight co-headliner Melissa St. Vil.
Born in Haiti and residing in Brooklyn where she is a gym mate to Heather Hardy and several other celebrated female fighters at Gleason’s, Melissa is a decorated fourteen-year veteran of the fight game whose tour of duty has taken her through three return trips to her birthplace as well as New Zealand, where she decisioned Baby Nansen for the WBC Silver super-featherweight title; China, where she won the IBU world super-featherweight strap by defeating Katy Wilson Castillo; Finland, where she came within just a few points of upsetting then-undefeated WBC world super-featherweight champion Eva Wahlstrom; and Belgium, where she was stopped by Delfine Persoon in pursuit of the WBC world lightweight title now in Katie Taylor’s possession.
The organically vibrant St. Vil does not yet have an adversary penciled in for her co-feature on April 23, but rest assured Melissa will come equipped with every ounce of her enthusiastic energy to continue her winning ways and stay in world championship contention.
Heather Hardy and Melissa St. Vil will share the inaugural Ladies Fight bill with former amateur standouts and undefeated bantamweight prospects Alex Love and Mikiah Krepps, who square off in an eight-round prelim. Hailing from Niagara Falls, Krepps was signed by DiBella after putting an exclamation point on her professional debut last October by scoring a second-round TKO over fellow novice Noely Romero in Tijuana. Mikiah won several distinguished honors during her five-year amateur career including, but not limited to, the 2018 Women’s National Championships and 2019 National Golden Gloves.
A 2012 Olympic trialist and two-time Women’s National Champion who squared off against Marlen Esparza on multiple occasions, Alex Love has notched two knockouts in three professional wins to date. Alex served as a sergeant in the U.S Army and is a member of the Westminster police department in her home state of Colorado. Another one of Love’s amateur foes, New Rochelle’s Natalie Gonzalez, will also be featured on the Ladies Fight undercard.
Last seen suffering her first professional defeat to Kim Clavel on ESPN, Gonzalez (6-1, 1 KO) will be exchanging leather with four-time, three-division world champion Carina Moreno in what is sure to be an entertaining an eight-round minimumweight scrap. Sporting a career ledger reading 26-7 with 6 knockouts over eighteen years, Moreno boasts plenty of experience and world travel to supplement her championship belts.
April 23 will no doubt be a day to remember for 2020 New England Golden Gloves winner Stevie Coleman, who will make her professional debut in a show-opening four-round welterweight bout against an opponent to be named later. Bullied in school, Coleman stood up for herself one day, getting the better of her tormentor in a spirited display of fisticuffs. She was thereafter trained by her father on the family farm in Columbia, Connecticut alongside her four brothers until coming under the tutelage of renowned boxing coach Paul Cichon.
“I’m really looking forward to this fight,” Heather Hardy commented when I reached out to her today. “Last year was a tough one for all of us. I had to step away from boxing so I could work full-time and I really wasn’t sure if I would ever be back. The thought of retiring on a loss really didn’t sit well with me so I’m very grateful for another opportunity in the ring, doing what I love.”
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