Terri Harper: The Future?
Women’s boxing finally began to get some traction in 2019. That long wait for acceptance was nearing an end.
Katie Taylor started the resurgence when she joined the professional ranks in 2016. Signing with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing resulted in Taylor and her sport finally get the exposure it so badly needed. From that point on, gradually the sport began to grow.
But for women’s boxing to continue that growth, it needs a new wave of talent to come through once Taylor has departed.
Chantelle Cameron desperately wants a fight with Taylor, and is not only confident of victory, she firmly believes she will get it done inside the distance. But Cameron has been frustrated so far in her quest to get Taylor to share a ring with her, that frustration is likely to continue.
If, as seems probable, their paths are destined never to cross, at least in the short-term, Cameron will still have a big part to play in the future of women’s boxing, especially with the news that she has now signed with Matchroom Boxing.
But a former chip shop worker from Denaby could very well be the heir apparent to Ireland’s ‘Golden Girl’ and she could even surpass the heights Taylor has achieved.
Harper (10-0) could be on the verge of superstar status, a career still in its infancy, despite being the reigning and unified WBC & IBO super-featherweight world champion.
At 34, Taylor might be in the twilight of her fabulous career, and Harper looks perfectly poised to take over once Taylor has left for pastures new.
Harper could be something special, a fighter with unlimited potential, and as I noted after her show-stealing win over Eva Wahlstrom in Sheffield in February, the worrying thing for her future opponents is that she will only get better.
Last May I was ringside in Nottingham for her fight with the former world champion Claudia Lopez. With little fanfare for her undercard fight, Harper impressed immensely and looked a class above Lopez. A watching Hearn, can’t fail to have been impressed.
In July, Harper won the IBO world super-featherweight title in impressive fashion beating Nozipho Bell in 8 rounds. By September, Harper was a Matchroom fighter, and in October, Harper saw off Viviane Obenauf in Manchester.
Harper has the chance to raise her profile even further early next month when she faces Natasha Jonas. If successful against ‘Miss GB’ a showdown with the unbeaten American Mikaela Mayer could be on the cards. There is the possibility of a unification fight with Mayer, if the American can pick up another version of the world title prior to any meeting.
Fights with the likes of Jonas and Mayer not only puts Harper firmly on the boxing map, but it will also greatly add to the current momentum of women’s boxing. Great rivalries and great fights not only help a sport survive, it helps it thrive.
Even further down the line, there is that mouth-watering prospect of Harper and Taylor sharing a ring together. An astute Eddie Hearn will no doubt at some point look to make a potential passing of the torch fight between Taylor and Harper. It could be the biggest fight in the history of women’s boxing.
A random message from Stefy Bull set the ball rolling, world titles already secured, and in just 10 fights as a professional. An appearance on the BBC’s long-running A Question of Sport shows how far she has come. But Harper looks like a story of achieved plenty, but there is still more to come, much more.