TWELVE long months have passed since Issac Hardman last competed in Brisbane.
The hard-hitting middleweight (11-0-0, 9 KOs) will have in his fourth fight in seven months when he comes up against Adam Stowe (6-2-2, 4 KOs) as the headliner at the Fortitude Valley Music Hall.
The venue holds more than a few thousand people, but it hasn’t stopped the 25-year-old from making a potentially expensive promise to spectators in attendance. Hardman has committed to buying everyone a beer if he hasn’t won the fight by the end of the fifth round.
The Queenslander comes into this bout on the back of three convincing wins this year alone, with Hardman having an undefeated record from 11 professional fights since switching from mixed martial arts.
But Saturday might just be the most important fight of his career so far, being one fight away from what would be the biggest date of his career so far.
Ranked as Australia’s number one middleweight, a win over Stowe would likely see Hardman face the next best ranked fighter in Michael Zerafa (28-4-0, 17 KOs) next year.
Even though Hardman has told Aus-Boxing that there’s already a contract for a fight against Zerafa, he still seemed more than focused on the fight this weekend in-front of his home crowd.
Why this fight is so important
While many would agree that Hardman is the favourite ahead of this weekend’s bout, there’s no denying that it’s an incredibly important evening for the Queenslander’s boxing career.
But as the undefeated fighter commented on, a loss to the upset-minded Stowe would stunt the significant progress he’s made to date.
“If I lose it’s like a two year to build back. I don’t get the wheels turning again for ages” Hardman told Aus-Boxing. “It’s massive if I lose, you know, detrimental to my career.
“If when I win, it’s going to be huge, it opens the door to that Michael Zerafa fight.
“When I do win, yes, it opens up the Michael Zerafa fight who credit to that bloke, I don’t like him at all but he’s positioned number nine on Boxrec in middleweight division so credit where it’s due there.
“When I get my hands on him, we’ve already got a contract… that’d be huge when I knock him on the head. After I knock him Adam on the head, I’m in the conversation of the best middleweights in the world.”
But even with there being a potential fight against Zerafa on the horizon, it hasn’t appeared to have derailed Hardman’s preparation and focus ahead of his final hit-out for the calendar year.
“One thing my fiancée says, she says ‘every fight’s a fight.’ Every fight is the world title fight and that’s the way I treat every single fight,” he explained.
“You go through the history books, Buster Douglas [against] Mike Tyson, nobody thought he was going to win and obviously Tyson didn’t do the training necessary to come out on top.
“Every fight is a fight for me and that’s one thing I get reminded every single training session, I’ve never ever overlooked anyone.”
His prediction for the fight
In an interview with Main Event’s Ben Damon, Hardman initially stated that he’d be willing to shout a beer for all attendees, if he hasn’t won the fight by the end of the fifth round.
Harman has since stood by those comments by expressing just how confident he was in his prediction for his dual national and regional title defence.
“100 percent. If I come up short and that end of the fifth round goes and that bell sounds and he’s still on his feet, everyone gets a beer, my shout,” Hardman told Aus-Boxing.
“But I think I’ll finish him and I never go in with the intentions of finishing him early or anything like that but I just feel like it’s a different story when you get there and stand in front of me.
“I’m a lot bigger than Adam so I feel like he’ll feel the pressure, he’ll feel the power and I’ll give him the way out, I think he’ll take it.”
As he always is, Hardman is clearly full of confidence ahead of this bout and that’s exciting for fight fans who want to see the talented boxer put on a show.
But as he explained, he’s “feeling really good, really relaxed” ahead of the Stowe fight on the back of his preparation behind the scenes.
“Always confident and always ready, that’s where I get my confidence is from the trainer,” he quipped.
“Whether I’m fighting you know, someone that doesn’t have the credentials or not, I’m preparing as if I’m fighting Canelo Alvarez every single time. If you don’t prepare like that or if you overlook people, you come undone in this sport and it’s too cruel
“I’m feeling really good, really relaxed. I said one thing to my fiancé last night, I just feel at peace and that suddenly started to happen since the Mark Lucas fight.”
Headlining in front of his home crowd
The man known as ‘The Headsplitter’ will headline what promises to be an entertaining night of exciting fights, in front of his local crowd this weekend.
Among those on the card include former world champion Lucas Browne, and Jai Opetaia who is putting his world title opportunity on the line this weekend against Daniel Russell.
It’s also an opportunity for Hardman to revisit a venue where he won his belts 366 days before Saturday, having beaten Tej Pratap Singh on December 3rd.
“This is exactly a year since I won all the belts at the same venue,” he concluded.
“I’ve been starved of fighting here in front of a home crowd and it’s going to be exciting to have my brothers, my mum, my partner and everyone from the gym and locally.
“I skate with my two spoodles down Brisbane River and people always yell out, ‘Hey Hardman’ and ‘Headsplitter, this and that.’ It’s going to be good now to be able to fight in front of everyone here in Brisbane as the main event on such a massive card that’s getting so much attention.
“To headline that right here in Brisbane, in my hometown, it’s gonna take me 12 minutes to drive to the venue from my house so I’m excited.”
Photo: Getty Images
Words: Finn Morton/Follow Finn on Twitter