Isaac Hardman, a rising star of Australian boxing, admits he’s taking a “massive risk” climbing into the ring with Adam Stowe on Saturday.
“I’ve got everything to lose in this fight,” said the unbeaten 25-year-old, who was born in Redcliffe and grew up at Deception Bay and Caboolture.
“I’m in the conversation of having world title fights. Lose this and there goes Christmas … but you’ve got to risk it for the biscuit, as they say!”
Not that Hardman has any intention of giving up the Australian middleweight, IBF Oriental and WBO Oceania titles against Stowe in Fortitude Music Hall, Fortitude Valley.
“I’ve always been fighting on December 4,” he said, “I’ve been preparing for 10 weeks. It’s just the (identity of) the opponent that’s short notice.
“He’s a hard-nosed, gritty fighter and will keep coming at you but, as my finance says, I have to treat every fight as if it’s for a world title.”
Hardman now lives at Bald Hills, closer to his training base at Nitro Fitness Boxing in Chermside with trainer Blair Studley.
After 11 wins from 11 fights, of which only two went the distance, Hardman is world ranked 11 with the WBO (World Boxing Organisation) and 14 by the IBF (International Boxing Federation).
Yet as a teenager, is sporting goal rugby league and a career in the NRL.
Hardman was in the Morayfield State High Excellence program, played at Caboolture and Burpengary and rep footy with Sunshine Coast Falcons before turning to MMA and then boxing.
His father, who died in 2009, was also a boxer and fought for the Queensland super middleweight title, one above Hardman’s weight.
“I’ve fought at super middle (weight) and in one of the same venues my dad did, which was cool,” Hardman said. "I can appreciate who my dad was now.
“I’ve felt that’s why I found fighting to have a connection with my dad and what he has done.
“I had a good relationship with my dad, but feel I’d have a better relationship now I can appreciate what he was doing.”
Hardman says his mum never let her children go without, but “we didn’t have all the goods some kids had”.
He has also known hard times, such as sleeping in his car outside the gym when unable to afford driving to and from Caboolture all the time.
That and hard work have helped shape Hardman the boxer.
Despite COVID-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions he had three fights in 50 days earlier this year and Saturday will be his fourth in seven months.
In fact, during the pandemic Hardman's stock has risen to the point where he is now rated on the world stage.
“When COVID broke out I was 7-0 and relatively unknown in Australian boxing,” Hardman said.
"I fought on a domestic level against Australian opponents which built my name up with a home-grown base.
“In timing terms, COVID didn’t put a halt to my boxing career. I was able to fight at a domestic level, didn’t have to travel.
"Five fights in the midst of the pandemic … some people haven’t had any. I have been very lucky.”