Terri Harper Looking To Make A Statement
Terri Harper has had a frustrating and testing time over the past year or so. For the first time in her boxing career, things haven’t run in straight lines.
A disputed draw with Natasha Jonas last August at Fight Camp was the first blemish on her record. Many, including this observer, had Jonas winning, but Harper showed plenty in one of the best fights of 2020.
Harper showed a champion’s heart surviving a torrid 8th round, a lesser fighter would have crumbled at that point, and she gutted out the 10th round to salvage her undefeated record and her world titles. It was a savage fight, both fighters deserve immense credit for what they served up. Trust me, it was some fight. Time hasn’t dimmed the rawness of that night.
There were subtle changes made in camp, the Jonas scare in hindsight, was a blessing in disguise. That night in many ways, made Harper a better fighter. Harper returned in November to impressively stop Katharina Thanderz in 9 rounds. Harper looked physically stronger, a night where any demons from the Jonas fight were fully extinguished.
The only downside to her night was a damaged hand she suffered in the early stages of the contest. After corrective surgery, Harper was due to face Hyun Mi Choi in a unification fight earlier this year, until tragedy struck once again.
In her final spar for the fight with the WBA super-featherweight champion, Harper had to pull out of the fight:
“Absolutely devastated to announce that in my last spar of camp, I have damaged my hand again. Heartbroken is not the word.” Harper posted on her social media accounts. The time in isolation wasn’t wasted, she got fit, she got better.
This weekend in Sheffield, the scene of her breakout night in 2020, Harper finally makes her return to the ring in defence of her WBC & IBO world titles. Alycia Baumgardner is the opponent, a tough choice for her return.
Make no mistake, Harper could have chosen a far easier comeback. Too much time has been wasted already, Harper wants to swim in deep waters on her return. As Harper says herself, “It’s a proper fight.” She is right.
With a win on Saturday night, Harper has her fighting future seemingly mapped out. The fight with Choi will be next, and another victory clears the path a little more for a fight with the American Mikaela Mayer.
Harper and Mayer have a rivalry that has been nicely simmering, and with Mayer the now unified WBO/IBF champion, the fight will be one for undisputed status, and maybe a little bit more.
If the Harper/Mayer fight eventually materialises, and in boxing, nothing is guaranteed, the winner could be looking at a fight with the undisputed world lightweight champion Katie Taylor in just over a year’s time.
Harper has long been touted as the heir apparent to Taylor, a fight where the torch could very well be passed. The former Denaby chip shop worker is just a few wins away from being in a position to be challenging for the right to be called the best female on the planet.
The talk from the Harper inner circle is not just beating Baumgardner, but making a statement in doing so. The team are promising a better version of Harper than we have previously seen, Baumgardner will tell us just how much she has improved.
Harper has seen her sport rise further in her extended absence and new stars emerge and others solidify their position. But Harper looks in the mood to remind everyone of her immense talents on Saturday night.
Photo Credit: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing