No Holds Barred: At what age did you get into boxing?
Anthony Hardy: I went down the gym a few times when I was really young, at about seven or eight, but they kept telling us to come back when I was about nine or ten so I wouldn't lose interest. So I went back year after year, and at about the age of ten after a short space of time they said I was ready to fight. So after a few months down the gym I turned eleven and had my first fight.
No Holds Barred: Can you tell us about your amateur career?
Anthony Hardy: Basically there was no more than about eight fights a season. I think in my first season I had eight fights and won five. The season before last I think was my busiest; I think I had thirteen fights. All in all I had fifty-one fights and won twenty-nine. I fought all across the country; London, York, Sheffield, Birmingham… I had a good amateur career with no regrets aside from a few bad decisions from judges which knocked my confidence a bit and made me want to turn pro more.
No Holds Barred: Why did you decide to turn professional now at twenty-one? Did you not think about aiming for the next Olympics in Rio, for example?
Anthony Hardy: For me, it was a pretty easy decision to make. In the senior ABAs - where you go through the process of trying to get picked for England - I had a few unlucky decisions go against me. There was also some discussion over whether I was fighting at the right weight class and stuff like that. Like I remember losing a really bad decision in a fight I had for the area belt and just thought I wasn't getting any decisions go my way so I’d might as well turn pro instead of wasting another year or whatever in the seniors at amateur level and get a few pro fights under my belt and earn some money.
No Holds Barred: Would you say you’re more suited to the professional ranks than the amateur ranks?
Anthony Hardy: Yeah, I would. I’m really naturally fit and feel I’m better over more rounds than I am in shorter fights like those at amateur level. I like to counter a lot, I’m slick, hard to hit flush, quite slippery. I’m definitely a boxer’s boxer rather than a fighter.
|Anthony sparring Olympian |
No Holds Barred: Did you try any other sports before boxing?
Anthony Hardy: I was captain of all the school teams when I was younger in junior school; I excelled at every sport back then. But once I started boxing that was it; that was the only sport I was interested in. I found I had more focus and drive for boxing than any other sport. I knew from a young age this is how I wanted to make a living.
No Holds Barred: You're trained by Peter Cope. Does he think you need improving on many things or does he think you just need to gain some professional experience?
Anthony Hardy: I think mainly it’s the experience side I need. In terms of skill, I’d say I just need to fight slightly more positively like working my shots more, leaving less gaps in between shots, and sitting down on them more. I’m working on things like my movement, making opponents miss, and countering shots.
No Holds Barred: You make your professional debut on 7th July at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland. How is your preparation going?
Anthony Hardy: It’s going brilliant. I’m the fittest and strongest I've ever been. My trainers Peter Cope and Alan Temple have really been working on my strength and conditioning and my diet is good too. I’ve been doing a lot of sparring with the likes of Bradley Saunders; He’s a really good boxer and it’s been really good for my preparation. I’ve also been sparring Gary Fox; he held the lightweight Northern Area title. I’ve also sparred Mark Clauzel; he fought James DeGale in the amateurs.
No Holds Barred: Have you sparred in other gyms across the country?
Anthony Hardy: No, not yet. But I’m planning on going to Sheffield to the Ingle Gym at some point in the near future.
No Holds Barred: Are you a Sunderland fan?
Anthony Hardy: No, I’m a Newcastle fan. [Laughs]
No Holds Barred: Would it not have been nicer to make your pro debut at St James Park?
Anthony Hardy: Honestly, a few people have asked me that. But to be honest, I’m really happy about it. It’s a good stadium to make my pro debut in. I’m just looking at it from a boxing perspective and just happy to be making my debut in such a big venue and in front of so many fans. I’d love to fight at St James Park one day though; it would be a dream come true.
|Click on photo for ticket information|
Anthony Hardy: It’s the third one I know of in recent years. I went to the last one and it was a really good show.
No Holds Barred: Do you know who your opponent will be?
Anthony Hardy: Yeah, Matt Seawright.
No Holds Barred: I always do my homework. Matt is a tough guy to make your debut against. Fought 86 times, been 377 rounds as a pro, and been in against a lot of known fighters in Britain. Are you anticipating a tough debut?
Anthony Hardy: Yeah, he’s fought a lot of good lads along the way. I won’t be taking him lightly. He’s rarely been stopped too. But I see it as a case of me having the attributes to beat him. I don’t take any opponents lightly.
No Holds Barred: You don’t have a Boxrec page yet, so what are your fighting attributes e.g. height, reach etc.?
Anthony Hardy: I’m about 5ft11 and a half, I’ve got a long reach, and a strong jab.
No Holds Barred: What weight will you be fighting at, are you comfortable at the weight, and do you think a move up in weight could be on the cards sooner rather than later?
Anthony Hardy: I’ve been growing into a welterweight but I’m going to try to make light welterweight for this fight. I do have to work really hard to make it to this weight [light welterweight] but I enjoy the hard work and feel better with myself making the weight. To be honest, there’s no rush to get to welterweight but at either weight I feel strong.
No Holds Barred: Why do you think it’s better for you to fight at light welterweight with your big frame rather than perhaps trying a heavier weight class?
Anthony Hardy: I’d rather be a giant at one weight really and have an advantage rather than be an average size fighter at a heavier weight. As long as I can keep making weight it makes sense to keep competing there for me.
No Holds Barred: Do you know many other professional boxers and have they given you any advice?
|Anthony sparring Bradley |
Anthony Hardy: Well, I spar with Bradley Saunders every week. I can’t really say he gives me any advice exactly but he gives me a lot of tips when we’re sparring. Sparring him gives me a lot of motivation because he’s a top fighter and has already achieved a lot at amateur level and looking good at pro level too. Peter Cope (jr.), who I train alongside, is also undefeated. Simon Vallily won Gold at the last Commonwealth games; he’s just made his debut this year. We just all banter with each other and it’s all good motivation. I’m good friends with another welterweight called Paul Archer. We grew up together in the same gym.
No Holds Barred: How many more fights would you like to have this year and have you set yourself any short or long term goals?
Anthony Hardy: I’m looking to fight about six or seven times a year ideally. In terms of goals, I’d say by the time I’m twenty-five I want to be challenging for decent titles; the likes of the British title, English title, Area title… Obviously the British title is the big one. If I could be challenging for that in four years’ time I’d be very happy.
No Holds Barred: What are the main differences between the amateur and pro game in your opinion?
Anthony Hardy: I’d say you have to be really tough as a pro. I think a lot of amateurs rely a lot on technique whereas in the pro game it’s all about toughening up your body and your shots. Like I’ve had to really sit down on my punches a lot more as a pro. In the amateurs I’d say I was sharp but I’d get caught with shots which I think I would be trying to avoid more now as a pro. I also have to sell my own tickets now. It’s a tough game to get into.
No Holds Barred: Do you feel any pressure to succeed or do you just feel that you can take everything one step at a time?
Anthony Hardy: I’d be lying if I said there was no pressure. I did well in the amateurs and I’ve turned pro to succeed and I think people expect that from me, so I’ve got to deliver. I think people know my ability and that I can deliver if I try. So I feel I have to achieve that top standard of boxing every time. It’s good pressure in my opinion. It’s pressure that I turn into positive energy in fights.
No Holds Barred: Do you have a boxing nickname?
Anthony Hardy: Yeah, ‘The Hitman’. I was given that nickname at the age of ten.
No Holds Barred: Do you watch boxing away from the ring?
Anthony Hardy: Yeah, I always watch Ringside on Sky Sports and any boxing that’s on when I’m at home.
No Holds Barred: Which fighters do you like?
Anthony Hardy: I’m a big fan of Floyd Mayweather Jr; he’s got everything. I’d say my main inspiration for wanting to be a boxer was Prince Naseem Hamed. I used to love watching him fight when I was a kid. I didn't know exactly what he was doing because that was early days for me, but I just loved the way he boxed and his whole persona. Mike Tyson was another one of my favourites.
No Holds Barred: Which fights are you looking forward to?
Anthony Hardy: Off the top of my head, I’d say I like the look of Mayweather-Alvarez. I think Mayweather wins but Alvarez could make it tough for him because he’s got that Mexican grit and determination. I still think Mayweather will have too much for him though just because we all know how good Mayweather can fight.
No Holds Barred: What is the worst part of being a boxer in your opinion?
Anthony Hardy: You've got to make a lot of sacrifices. For example, when the lads go away on holiday I can’t go with them, and I don’t get to see my girlfriend all the time. But you make up for it with the success and the pride you feel when it all works out for you. It’s not really bad though because like I say you make up for it by being successful. I’d say the worst thing is making weight; that can be difficult.
No Holds Barred: If you had not become a boxer, do you know what you would have done?
Anthony Hardy: I’d have tried my best at football. I quit playing football when I decided to go pro really to avoid getting injuries and stuff. I enjoyed playing football and would have given it a go.
No Holds Barred: Do you have a message for the fans?
Anthony Hardy: Keep following my progress. I’ll make sure I always entertain my fans because I’m that sort of fighter, and I guarantee them good fights. I appreciate all the support and you can follow me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/anthonyhardyboxing and Twitter: @Anth_Hardy11
No Holds Barred: Thanks for talking to us Anthony and best of luck with your career.