The build up to the highly anticipated fight between Justis Huni and Paul Gallen kicked off earlier this week but a rising Australian boxing star stole the show.
Isaac Hardman moved to 10-0 on the only undercard fight for the Huni-Christian Tsoye card, defeating New Zealander Robert Berridge with an eighth round TKO.
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With Gallen on the mic for Fox Sports, the unbeaten Queenslander shared some words with the former rugby league star turned boxer and again praised him after the fight.
“I guess I’m a bit of a Paul Gallen fan,” Hardman opened up. “Sharkies, they’re pretty turd, I’m more of a Doggies man.
“But you can’t knock Paul Gallen for what he’s doing.
“He’s given people like myself a platform to perform. He gave Tim Tszyu the platform to be a pay-per-view star. Credit to him, you can’t knock what Paul Gallen’s doing. I just hope he gives Justis a hard fight. Justis is obviously the cream of the crop.”
But just as the interview ended Hardman took the mic, asking his long-time trainer Blair Studley to be the best man at his wedding.
“I proposed to my beautiful girlfriend, now fiancee, and my coach will probably appreciate this more than in three weeks (his next fight – and in front of a large crowd),” Hardman said on Wednesday.
“Blair is like a father to me, and he’s beside me every battle and I’d like to ask him to be my best man at my wedding.”
Studley said “of course I will” as the pair hugged.
Truth behind boxing star’s scene-stealing proposal
Isaac Hardman with his trainer and best man Blair Studley.Source:FOX SPORTS
Despite being a 10-0 boxer, Hardman still works full-time as a personal trainer at Nitro Boxing in Chermside near Brisbane, the gym owned and founded by Studley and his wife Rebecca.
Speaking to news.com.au, Hardman said that Studley was more than just his employer and his trainer, speaking to the pair’s special bond.
“I asked by girlfriend to marry me at the end of last year on Christmas Eve at the opening of the first house we built together,” Hardman said. “He was there but he’s been a real influential person in my life for the past six years. He’s very special to me.
“I lost my dad in 2009 when I was 12 and then I found Blair and started hanging around his gym and he’s been that father figure, mentor, role model ever since and we’ve been become really close. He’s got two sons who are like little brothers to me, his wife is very close to me as well.
“But I am who I am because of my mum. She is who raised me from the get go and I didn’t really know my dad very well, he was only young and my mum and dad weren’t together.
“Blair has just been that person for me to mould me into the man I am today along with my mother as well. He’s a very important man in my life. He was a professional boxer, kickboxer, he lives and breathes it loves it.
“My mum is one of the strongest people I know but a young man has to have that man figure in his life and thankfully I had Blair in my life to guide me along.”
Hardman busted out the Ric Flair celebration after the win.Source:Getty Images
As for asking Studley to be his best man, it was one of the biggest motivating factors behind his win over Berridge.
“Me and my partner had a look at our wedding venue the Sunday before I left, only one bridesmaid and one groomsman,” he said. “There was only one thought on my mind that I’ve got to win this fight so I can ask Blair so I can get it off my chest. I was more nervous about that than the fight itself. Thank god I won.”
Hardman preparing to take on the world
While Hardman isn’t yet a household name in Australia, the Australian middleweight champion is primed to take on the world.
Ranked 22 in the world at middleweight according to Boxrec, Hardman is in the middle of a busy schedule of fights.
Starting with Mark Lucas on April 23, who had a seventh round retirement, Hardman fought 36-year-old New Zealander and former world title challenger Robert Berridge on Wednesday.
The 25-year-old is next set to fight Emmanuel Carlos on the undercard of the Justis Huni-Paul Gallen fight night on June 16.
Hardman put in a great performance against Robert Berridge.Source:Getty Images
It’s a unique run for the young star who likes to be as active as possible.
Hardman added that after the Carlos fight he’s looking ahead of him in the rankings, which appears to be overseas.
He called out Michael Zerafa after his win over Lucas in April but Zerafa dropped down to super welterweight for his fight with Tim Tszyu in July, and he’s potentially looking for a fight with WBA middleweight champ Ryota Murata by the end of the year.
“I had this thought dawn on me on the plane ride home, I don’t think anyone is ever ready for the world title,” he said. “I feel like I could beat everyone in the world but when it comes to that time for walking out for the world title, I don’t think anyone is ever fully fledged ready, it’s just depending on the night that you can step up to the opportunity and take it with both hands.
“But if that opportunity came cruising on by, I would take it 100 per cent. I definitely would be ready. My skill set, I feel like I could beat these guys, it’s just on the night whether you get it all together and pressure makes diamonds and I always step up to the mark.”
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