Shelly Vincent Feels Rejuvenated After Determination To Return To The Sport


Shelly Vincent had had big fights before. She fought Heather Hardy twice, once on NBC Sports Network and once on HBO. That rematch with Hardy was at Madison Square Garden and with a world title at stake.

But none of that compared to Vincent’s eight-round win over Shelly Barnett at the Mass Mutual Center in Springfield on November 27th. That was probably their greatest fight of all time.

“It was the most important battle for my mental health and for me,” said Vincent, who made her first start since defeating Karen Dulin in August 2019. “I really couldn’t care what happens to boxing now. It’s more to me than it was when I started. ”

Oddly enough, Vincent made her professional debut a little over a decade ago, defeating the same Karen Dulin on October 7, 2011. She was a late starter in the sport, making her debut at age 32, but she was studying a quick one, piling victory after victory while becoming a legitimate ticket seller in the New England boxing scene.

Ultimately, she became a contender and built a nice rivalry with Hardy. When the two finally met in 2016, they had one of the best fights in women’s boxing history. But the end result – a majority vote for Hardy – still doesn’t go well with the Rhode Islanders.

“The judges made me really dirty in the first fight,” said Vincent. “Still, I don’t care what someone says, I hit her, I hurt her. If you look at it you can clearly see that I won. She won the second fight, okay, she undoubtedly won. But you know that I’ll talk about the first one. “

She laughs and admits that the second decision Hardy made more than two years later was a legitimate one in her eyes. Despite the results, Vincent’s stock didn’t fall, and it took three wins before leaving the sport. The decision surprised many, but Vincent followed suit from longtime trainer Peter Manfredo Sr.’s suggestion that it was time to leave at the age of 40.

“For him it was just the number,” said Vincent. “I never really wanted to retire. Pete was like my father and he kept telling me, ‘You’re old, retiring, going to the top, don’t be one of those people who stay too long.’ “

Vincent took her trainer’s advice, but almost immediately it didn’t suit her. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic and her mental state worsened.

“Boxing has always been like therapy for me,” she says. “Well, it was just too much to take away from me. And then COVID came and I’m not going to lie, my depression got really bad when I was locked in the house. ”

Ultimately, she decided to make a comeback. Manfredo Sr. was no longer to be seen, but the two parted amicably.

“He and me went back and forth, back and forth, but he really doesn’t want to see me fight anymore, so I’ve got a new coach,” said Vincent. “Me and Pete are great, but he doesn’t want to be there if I am ever hurt. I tried to explain to him that it is different with women. It’s not like boys – the risk isn’t there, we don’t have the one clout, at least not many of us, and women’s bodies are different. But he just didn’t get it. I understand, and we have chosen to keep our friendship and relationship going. “

Enter Dave Keefe.

“I turned to Dave Keefe, Demetrius Andrade’s old coach, and we started to work,” she said. “And it worked. I feel like I look sharper than ever. I look really sharp. And I did it southpaw.”

Yes, Vincent returned to the ring, and in her 29th professional fight, she did an inverted balboa (in Rocky II) and turned around. And to be honest, she looked sharp with no hint of ring rust when she shut Barnett out, even if she has a little secret to reveal.

“I was born left-handed,” she says. “My mother made me right-handed because my grandfather told her that left-handed people are wrong. (laughs) But when I draw, I draw with my right hand and paint with my left hand. When I played guitar, I played with my left hand. When I played basketball, I would shoot with my right hand when I was on the right side of the court. When I was on the left side, I would shoot with my left hand. “

And now she can fight left-handed, and even at 42 it seems like there’s still enough in the tank to do another run. Is that the plan? Maybe, but not exactly. After battling Barnett for £ 124 ¼, she’s hoping to return at the start of the new year at £ 122 and then drop to 118, which is what she’s hoping for a title bout. Sounds like a plan, but she also plays it fight after fight.

“It could be two or three fights; It could be a year or two – it all depends on my body and my legs, ”she said. “It never depends on age; it depends on the age of the legs. And my legs are good. “

More importantly, her head is in the right place and the heart that was always in it is still there. Everything else does not matter.

“I’ve already done everything I wanted to do,” said Vincent. “I fought for women to be on TV, we got on TV, we fought for equality and women are treated better. I just wanted to show young children who were like me – raped, abused, or suicidal and depressed – that you can fight your way out of anything and change things. It was always that, and to show my mother that I am the person she was trying to make me and not the child she had, it was all lost and confused. “

Vincent’s mother Tania, who tragically died of leukemia at the age of 37, would surely be proud of what her daughter has become, especially considering that her boxing trip is not just for her, but for those who do go through the same trauma that she experienced.

But the million dollar question is, now that Shelly Vincent is back, is she at peace?

“I’m always closer to peace when I box and do what I love,” she said. “I felt pressure go from my heart when I got back in there.”



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