She believes! Terri Harper on rising confidence - and attention - as she bids to become WBC champion

Terri Harper is on the cusp of something very, very special.

Thursday, 6th February 2020, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 18th February 2020, 10:16 am
Terri Harper during her media workout at Stefy Bull's gym in Denaby Main. Picture: Mark Robinson
Terri Harper during her media workout at Stefy Bull's gym in Denaby Main. Picture: Mark Robinson

The Denaby Main fighter has risen rapidly in a little more than two years since she became South Yorkshire’s first female pro.

On Saturday night she will seek to add the prestigious WBC world title to her IBO super featherweight crown and take her place among the elite.

But victory would also see her emerge as boxer ready to lead the next wave of superstars - male or female.

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The 23-year-old has picked up national attention in the world of boxing and her fight with WBC champion Eva Wahlstrom on Saturday night will be chief support for Kell Brook’s return at Sheffield Arena.

But it is not hard to think this is only the beginning for a likeable and supremely talented young fighter, who has more than a little mainstream appeal.

Her training camp for the clash with Wahlstrom has brought a major increase in attention. Countless interviews, media workouts centred around her - Harper has had plenty to deal with aside from an intense training camp.

“It’s crazy - the attention that I’m getting is doubling or tripling every time,” she told the Free Press.

“It’s the same with my ticket sales too.

“It’s all good and it’s nice to be part of it, flying the flag for women’s boxing.

“It’s only really just sinking in. Before, I’d have never thought I’d be in this position.

“I still find it surreal that I’m here. It’s going to be my tenth fight and I’ve got a contract that people only dream of.

“I’m at the stage where boxing is everything to me and everything else is secondary. Boxing is my main priority. I’ve got years in this sport, 100 per cent dedicated and sacrifices that I’m going to make.

“But if I work hard while I’m young, I can set myself up for a good life.”

Her trainer and mentor Stefy Bull has long said the best of Harper will come once she truly believes in herself as much as others do.

Part of that is believing that she belongs at world level, not being starstruck by the sport’s leading names but accepting she is at the same level.

So, with a well-earned chance at the most prestigious of world titles just days away, does she believe?

“I’m starting to. I’ve got to, because it’s happening,” Harper said.

“I don’t want to let anything slip.

“I know what opportunity I’ve got and how much can change for me, how much my life can change.

“In this camp I’ve put 110 per cent effort into it to make sure I come out successful on the night.”

Harper does sound like she believes at least. She has spoken regularly of Wahlstrom having nothing to trouble her, despite being a world champion for five years and having just one defeat on her record.

But she heads to Sheffield - backed by a near 1,000 strong personal support - safe in the knowledge that no stone has been left unturned in preparation for the fight of her life.

“I’ve had a good camp, “ she said. I’ve had a lot of sparring and that’s something we don’t usually start until late on.

“I feel like I’ve developed as a boxer massively. If Eva has been watching my old videos, I’m completely different to what I was then.

“I expect a very exciting fight.

“I can’t even put it into words what it will be like to win.

“I lay in bed at night dreaming of it. Hearing ‘and the new…’

“I don’t even know how I’m going to react - whether I’ll cry or cheer or what.

“We’ll see on the night.”