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Hardy Split-Decisions Fuentes at Roseland
by Bernie McCoy
Photos by Christy Cappillino
February 13, 2014


(FEB 13) Heather Hardy won her eighth straight professional bout on Wednesday night, but it wasn't easy. The undefeated Brooklyn super bantamweight eked out a razor thin split decision over a game, aggressive Cristina Fuentes in the feature bout of a nine fight DiBella Entertainment card at the historic Roseland Ballroom, which will be razed in the Spring, in the name of progress, to make room for one more skyscraper to dot the skyline of mid town Manhattan. Boxing may be gone from Roseland and Roseland may soon be gone from 52nd St, but Hardy and Fuentes provided one final fistic memory for the sellout crowd that witnessed their eight round bout.

Fuentes started quickly in the first round, landing two big left hooks that rocked Hardy, who answered by coming back strong with straight armed rights and lefts that got the attention of the Laredo, TX fighter who came to the bout having lost three of her last four fights. It was Fuentes' round but, like the succeeding seven stanzas, it was close, with each fighter having moments when they dominated the action during the opening two minutes.

In fact, there were no one sided rounds throughout the entire fight. The crowd, which was kept in a frenzy throughout the bout, seemed to get used to, even expect, that when one fighter appeared to take control of the action, seemingly, the next moment, the other fighter seized control. The two bantamweights appeared to trade momentum back and forth with the same energy and aggression with which they traded punches. And trade punches they did. Referee Sparkle Lee had a fairly invisible eight rounds as the two boxers did hardly any clinching, concentrating instead on throwing detonating punches.

Fuentes, giving away several inches in height to Hardy, while both tipped the scale at 121.8, nonetheless was often the aggressor, throwing her lethal left hook and succeeding, by the middle rounds, in bloodying her opponent's nose and raising a sizable abrasion under Hardy's left eye. For her part, Hardy simply kept coming, utilizing a straight up stance and throwing lefts and rights from her back foot that often backed Fuentes into the ropes or a corner while brightening the complexion of Fuente's face. The action continued right to the final bell, sixteen minutes of back/forth, bell/bell gloved combat.

The crowd frenzy did not abate after the final bell. The vocal excitement that these two fighters generated over the eight rounds was silenced only when the ring announcer prepared to render the verdict. It was first announced that the judgement was a split decision, which couldn't have come as a great shock to those who witnessed the eight rounds. But while the decision was split, the numbers were identical, 77-75. Kevin Morgan and Julie Lederman both had the count for Hardy, Glenn Feldman saw it for Fuentes.

It's often said, around ringside, that when a fight is close, it could "have gone either way." There were probably some in the crowd who shared that very thought. It was a close fight. It was a good fight. And on this night and in this venue, Heather Hardy emerged with a hard fought win and Cristina Fuentes absorbed a tough-to-take loss. Yet, the going away winner was the sport of Women's boxing, because once more, two boxers, who just happened to be women, showed what levels can be achieved when the sport and it's athletes are given the opportunity.



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