Noel Harding believes his next professional fight could make or break his boxing career.
The 34-year-old Brandonite is set to take on South Dakota’s Cheyenne Ziegler in Harding’s fourth professional bout, on June 7 in Belcourt, N.D.
Harding has been in discussions with various promoters in an attempt to kickstart his career in the ring and believes if he can do well against Ziegler in the six-round scrap, one of the companies might take a chance on him.
"If I win this fight, it’s a good thing; if I lose this fight it will be very detrimental to my career," said Harding, who has a perfect 3-0 record as a pro. "They’re giving me a fight that, although the guy has a lot of fights, I should win. And if I don’t win this fight, it’s going to set me back.
"I’m not even thinking of that as an option. All I’m thinking is I want another first-round knockout, and if I can do that, I know they’ll make things happen with Iron Mike Productions, I’m hoping."
Harding has been in discussions with a recruiter/promoter for Iron Mike Productions — former world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson is the president — for a couple of months and hopes improving his record to 4-0 will help him get signed.
The company has shown some faith in Harding. They offered to bring him back to Catskill, N.Y., to prepare for his upcoming bout, but Harding thinks he will have to pass on that offer as he doesn’t believe it would be the best for his business, the Brandon Boxing Club, even though he desperately wants to take the next step in his career.
In order to take that next step and get signed by a promoter, Harding needs to get more fights. However, he has struggled to get on cards and has had some fall through, including a backup contest on ESPN’s "Friday Night Fights" a couple weeks ago.
Harding made his professional debut on Oct. 29, 2010, but didn’t get another fight until Aug. 10, 2013. He had another one the next month, but hasn’t returned to the ring for a bout since. Trying to get matches by promoting himself has proven difficult for Harding.
"It’s very frustrating when I cannot fight," he said. "In the course of the last year, I’ve been in the ring with some of the best boxers in the world sparring, and I know I belong there with them on that stage. It’s frustrating that I don’t get the exposure I need, but all I can do is keep working, keep being resilient and one day it will pay off."
Harding hopes to get on a July boxing card in Winnipeg — details are currently being discussed — and he’s working with a promoter to bring an event to Brandon, which he can fight in as well.
For now, Harding’s focusing on his bout in June. He’s trying to get down to the junior middleweight (154 pounds) standard and he can’t wait to make his return to the ring.
"I’m excited to be fighting," he said. "I love to fight. I live to fight. I was so close to fighting on that ESPN card a couple weeks back. They had an opponent for me and they were using it as a backup fight and they didn’t end up needing me. But I made my weight for the fight, I made the mental preparations and it was quite the letdown.
"I’m quite excited to get another sanctioned fight under my belt and I’m hoping for many this year."