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Promoter Lou DiBella promises Heather Hardy six-figure payday for boxing return

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Photos: Best of Heather Hardy

Heather Hardy had no intention of returning to boxing as she approached her fourth Bellator fight. And she didn’t seem the least conflicted about it. A bare-knuckle meeting with Bec Rawlings was the only thing that piqued her interest.

Hardy (2-2 MMA, 2-2 BMMA) was fed up with the sport and its politics after winning the WBO featherweight title in October and struggling to book fights. But after a TKO loss to the unknown Taylor Turner (2-4 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) at Bellator 222, she has an offer to go back to the squared circle.

Hardy’s longtime boxing promoter, Lou DiBella, issued an entreaty for her return to boxing on Friday night, promising a handsome payday for the trip.

Tough night for @HeatherHardyBox, but I’m proud of her for giving it a go in @BellatorMMA . She is a World #Boxing Champion, but was willing to start from scratch and try a new discipline. Now it time to focus on boxing. It’s my job to get her the 6 figure payday she deserves…

— Lou DiBella (@loudibella) June 15, 2019

…If female boxing champions were paid appropriately and given fair opportunities to shine, I’m not sure she would ever have participated in #MMA (though I know she doesn’t regret trying). You will get that #boxing mega match, Heather, and soon. You have my word.

— Lou DiBella (@loudibella) June 15, 2019

The messages were retweeted by Hardy, who’d earlier taken to Twitter to express her disappoinment at another setback.

I tried the things guys. I tried.

— Heather Heat Hardy (@HeatherHardyBox) June 15, 2019

Hardy’s Bellator contract was unique for her ability to bounce between boxing, where she is an undefeated multi-belt champion, and MMA, which she took up when boxing opportunities became scarce.

After a lackluster win over sometime boxer Ana Julaton in Feb. 2018, she returned to the boxing ring and beat Iranda Paola Torres to win the NABF title. Then she outpointed Shelly Vincent to win the WBO featherweight title.

An empty winter schedule was the catalyst for Hardy’s return to MMA. She subsequently booked a fight at Bellator 222 against Taylor Turner, a fighter with double her experience and a losing record.

Hardy came out aggressively against Turner and reversed an early takedown attempt. But she gave up a subsequent trip to the mat and gave up mount, which allowed Turner to dominate position and strike until the referee stepped in.

At 2-2 in the cage, Hardy’s early highlights have given way to performances that exposed gaps her grappling knowledge. It remains to be seen whether she’ll close them, or return to a sport with which she has a love/hate relationship.

For complete coverage of Bellator 222, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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