Gennady Golovkin (blue trunks) and Kell Brook (red trunks) in action during their World Middleweight Title contest at The O2 Arena on September 10, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

You can’t fault Issac Hardman’s confidence. Despite being just an 11-fight ‘novice’, for want of a better word, the 26-year-old has already tried to talk his way into bouts with WBA champion Ryota Murata and the one-time, pound-for-pound king Gennady Golovkin.

His wishes are yet to be granted, but there’s no doubt that the middleweight is closing in on that big fight night that he craves.

Hardman has remained active throughout 2021 and in his three consecutive victories, the most recent of which was a fourth-round demolition of Emmanuel Carlos, confirms his status as a heavy-handed brawler with the skills to ascend beyond the domestic grade.

Ultimately, the goal will be to fight overseas for a recognized world belt, but for obvious reasons, Hardman must console himself with scraps on Australian soil, despite his dreams of a headline-making bout.

Back in June, his ambitious promoter Dean Lonergan was keeping busy.

“I sent a text to Bob Arum from Top Rank — the world’s biggest boxing company — yesterday,” he told Fox Sports.

“I said to Bob, ‘I know you’re fighting Gennady Golovkin at Christmas time, do you need a warm-up fight?”

That would be a huge step up in class for Hardman, but Australian fighters don’t know how to shy away from the toughest of assignments. Just take a look at George Kambosos Jr, currently priced at 6.50 for a win as the huge underdog in the boxing betting odds in his October 4th scrap with unified lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez. However, he'll head to New York City with high hopes of an upset.

As for Hardman, for now, he might be well served cleaning up on home soil. There are certainly some exciting fights to be made.

Domestic Dust-Up

There's a handful of Aussies that Hardman could enjoy noteworthy tussles with if they can be made.

The top of the list would surely be Tim Tszyu, son of the legendary Kostya. After compiling a perfect 19-fight winning streak, he will head to Queensland on November 17th to battle Takeshi Inoue for the WBO Asian Pacific light-middleweight strap.

The Aussie is another taking a step up in grade in an attempt to fulfill his ambition of becoming the world champion, and he'll certainly have his hands full with the busy Inoue.

Should the 26-year-old come up short, it would be interesting to see if a fight with Hardman could be made. Tszyu is a naturally smaller man and probably wouldn’t want to step up to middleweight, and some wrangling over a catchweight scrap would have to be the way forward.

Aussie boxing fans are awaiting news on the future plans of Jeff Horn, who hasn’t been seen since his August 2020 defeat to Tszyu. The Hornet hasn’t ruled out an in-ring return, and perhaps tackling an up-and-coming boxer would be the motivating factor he needs to lace up his gloves once more.

Perhaps the most likely target on Hardman’s hitlist will be Michael Zerafa, the 29-year-old who has shared a ring with the likes of Horn and Kell Brook. He was scheduled to fight Tsyzu before that engagement fell through in July, and he would be the ideal barometer to see where Hardman is at right now. With ambitions to reach the very top, it’s time for the ‘Headsplitter’ to take a step up in class.