At just twenty-two years-old, Terri Harper (8-0) is already a champion and she’s looking to add more belts to her collection in the future. The reigning IBO super-featherweight world champion won her title back in July with a TKO victory over the South African, Nozipho Bell, who had never previously been stopped. It was another giant leap forward in her fledgling career.
“All the way through the fight, I felt comfortable and I could see that there were odd shots that were catching her and hurting her”, Harper explained. “But, when I boxed Nina (Bradley), I rushed myself and I blew myself out after the second round. I’ve been cautious now, during my fights, not to rush and wear myself out. I do believe I could have stepped up and probably got the job done a bit quicker, but it’s all learning and we’re getting the wins – that’s all that matters.”
That win took place just six miles from where Harper lives and her popularity is clear to see in the sheer amount of tickets she manages to shift for her bouts. Some top pugilists of the past have struggled to help their promoters put bums on seats – not a problem Harper has to suffer.
“For the Nozipho Bell fight, I sold around 400”, Harper said. “Obviously, with it not being local (her November 2nd bout), I still believe we’ll get high numbers, hopefully over 300. Selling tickets is the main part of the business for promoters. It’s a business to them, really and me being able to sell tickets gets that profit in. It all works in my favour really.” Since our conversation, she’d sold 200 within a week!
Guided by Stefy Bull and Ray Doyle, Harper has passed every test of her career with flying colours and has been rewarded with the backing of Eddie Hearn and his Matchroom Boxing promotional banner.
“I’d just boxed Nozipho and we were back in the changing rooms and Andrew (Stefy) put a clip (of the fight) on Twitter and tagged Eddie in it, something about, ‘a twenty-two year-old just sold out a small-hall arena’, she told me. “Shortly after that, Eddie put something along the lines of, ‘we’ll get the deal sent over’. A few weeks later, Andrew and Eddie had been speaking and Eddie had sent over the contract. Then, (we had) the announcement last week of them signing me and my next outing, that’s when it all sunk in for me.”
That next outing will see Harper defend her IBO championship against Brazilian, Viviane Obenauf in Manchester on November 2nd, live on Sky Sports. She recognises the threat Obenauf possesses, but has no fear of the South American.
“She’s fought Katie Taylor, Chantelle Cameron and she stopped ‘Tasha Jonas. She fought Ewa Brodnicka over in Poland and lost on a split-decision, I believe. She’s a tough girl and a live opponent. I’ve just got to be aware and watch out for the wild shots. But, I’m confident in my ability. I believe I’ll be getting a late stoppage in that fight.”
The fight will serve as an appetiser for headliner Katie Taylor’s attempt to become a two-weight world champion. With both now part of the Matchroom stable, might it be possible that we see the two undefeated talents share a ring in the future?
“It’s possible,” Harper pondered. “We’re similar weights. To me, Katie is the best out there, so she’s something that I would aim for and if I ever got the opportunity to share a ring with Katie – we’d jump straight at it.”
Another fight that Harper and her team have been calling for and trying to make is a battle against the current WBC super-featherweight champion, Eva Wahlstrom. A unification might be on the horizon if November 2nd goes to plan.
“With her holding the WBC world title, we see Eva as someone we can beat,” she says with confidence. “We’re not rushing, but I believe that it could be a fight that’s made for sometime next year which will be good.”
Despite talk of exciting unifications, the humble yet confident IBO world champion has her sights firmly set on Viviane Obenauf and their world title tussle at the Manchester Arena, live on Sky Sports.
“I think it’s going to be the best I will have boxed. I want to show a bit more of my style. I’ve kind of gone into this style of plodding, walking forward, but we’re going to try a bit more of being on my toes, boxing her a bit more and then settling down into my shots a bit later on in the rounds. (You’ll) see a bit more of my boxing techniques and styles.”