Stop Everything: Women Are Boxing On TV
Women’s boxing is coming to television, and it’s on a legitimate channel you don’t have to Google.
This Sunday, Brooklyn star Heather Hardy will face undefeated rival Shelly Vincent from the Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk in Brooklyn.
More importantly, their fight will be featured on NBC Sports Network as part of the Premier Boxing Champions card for Errol Spence Jr. vs. Leonard Bundu.
Hardy or Vincent fighting isn’t news, as both undefeated champions have been boxing professionally for the past several years. They’re more familiar in boxing circles, but will be new faces to viewers tuning in this weekend.
Some aren’t going to understand why this is a big deal. While women in other sports still struggle for as much visibility as their male counterparts, no other sport has been quite as tragic in the visibility department as women’s boxing.
From networks’ “anti-female fighting” clauses to good ‘ole sexism, women’s professional boxing has been a tough sell to the misogynists that control what does and doesn’t make it to network television.
No one has been more vocal about this fact than Hardy, a fighter herself. Last summer she went in depth with RBRBoxing about the challenges women are facing in the boxing industry:
“The only reason why women get on these cards is because of my ticket sales. The big networks like ESPN, Showtime, HBO and pay-per-view, They have anti-female fight policies where they won’t televise female fights. So because of that a promoter looks at a woman as a dead-end investment. Right now [ticket sales] is the only thing keeping me with a job,” said Hardy.
It’s the kind of advocacy you don’t see often in highly competitive sports, where women frequently feel they have be extraordinarily cutthroat amongst each other when they’re in male-dominated spaces.
This is not to say we shouldn’t compete. Women need competition just as much as men do. After all, iron sharpens iron.
It’s evident, however, that Hardy sees that the right kind of competition is inside the ring. Outside the ring she seems to know it’s important she be an advocate for the visibility of all women fighters, and not just herself.
At the media roundtable earlier this month, Hardy acknowledge this broadcast to be a significant sign of progress in the sport.
“This is the kind of platform that this fight deserves. I’ve always imagined this fight being on television and I’m thankful that this fight has come together on NBCSN. It’s important to have a stage like this and I hope it’s the first of more fights like this on television.”
While this is a great step forward in women’s boxing, don’t expect Hardy and Vincent to hold hands and sing Kumbaya.
They still dislike each other. They still want to punch each other in the face.
In other words ladies and gentlemen, we’ve got ourselves a fight.
Heather “The Heat” Hardy and Shelly “Shelito’s Way” Vincent face off in a long-anticipated showdown Sunday, August 21 from Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk in Brooklyn. PBC on NBCSN coverage begins at 9:00 pm, EST.
Photo by Ed Diller/DiBella Entertainment