On Friday night, WBA super middleweight titleholder Alicia Napoleon-Espinosa attended the fights at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, rooting on her gym-mate Heather Hardy.
Both are part of the Gleason’s Gym fam, and I heard the Long Islander Napoleon (12-1, 7 KO), who like Hardy and Friday foe Amanda Serrano fights in the Lou DiBella stable, yelling to Hardy to get ‘er done, before round one began.
Before that fight — which was, by the way, a heckuva rumble, a jaw dropper from the POV of seeing Hardy weather a sick storm in round one, going on to win rounds with ace ring generalship — Napoleon spoke about her future.
She will be gloving up in a couple months, she told me, and she made clear she was part of the crew agitating for purse parity, for better treatment in the payday department. Also, she noted, the ladies can all be lifted up if smarter promoting is done regarding matches. Let’s build rivalries, said the fighter, and she was echoed by promoter DiBella.
Well, keep an eye on this brewing rivalry.
Napoleon and Flint, Michigan’s Claressa Shields went tit-for-tat on Twitter:
I admit, I grimaced when I saw the Shields remark. Threatening to back-hand a fellow pugilist in general public is real close to being over the line, even if you write such a challenge off to “hyping” and “the heat of the social media moment.”
Then, I re-thought the matter — this is the way things often operate in this day and age, and so guess what? We may have just seen the makings of a future fight. And that makes some sense, if you believe it wiser to have Shields fight Americans, and help build the attendance and rooting interest, instead of non-American athletes. In her next fight, Shields meets Ivana Habazin, from Croatia. My guess is, moving forward, she will be meeting foes from within the United States. Put Napoleon on the possibles list.