Mikaela Mayer: “I would outbox Alycia and that’s how you beat someone like her.”
The American Mikaela Mayer has never been short of something to say. She has an opinion about most things. Not everyone likes what she says. Mayer rarely cares. If ever. If she was in the WWE her villain like persona would make her the perfect heel. You sense she would relish the boos. Cherish them even.
Much of her attention has been diverted to Terri Harper in recent times. A rivalry that was supposed to end with a fight between the pair for all things undisputed. But in boxing, the script is rarely followed. This isn’t the pre-determined world of professional wrestling. Although at times, it can come close to that make-believe world.
Harper recently lost her world titles to the impressive American Alycia Baumgardner in a supposed shocking upset in 4 rounds last month in Sheffield. The upset wasn’t as shocking as some would lead you to believe. The manner of it may be, but many in the know were predicting the upset. Baumgardner is now the unified WBC & IBO super-featherweight champion of the world, Mayer very much now has a new dance partner.
Mayer has made no secret of her desire to become the undisputed champion in her weight division and Mayer now has turned attention to her fellow American. Pretty quickly a new rivalry has been born and one that carries a little more spite and venom than the previous one. Mayer told FightPost she thinks Baumgardner is taking things a little too personal:
“She seems to be a little offended or something. Why would she think that she is an exception? When Terri Harper had the belts I came for Terri Harper and now Baumgardner has the belts I’m coming for her. She’s saying stuff like I want the attention, it’s not about the attention it’s about getting the fight done. I want to be in the biggest fights possible. She can pretend I am causing all kinds of drama but this is what it is, I am going for her. I want the big fights and I want to be undisputed.
Mayer and Harper was nicely simmering, but it was the American doing the majority of the trash talk. But Baumgardner is playing her part already, there is clearly bad blood between the pair, and Mayer believes her new rival doesn’t want the fight, at least not yet:
“It’s funny that when she was asked about me she completely swerved me and didn’t answer the question and she wouldn’t say my name and then she finally said she wants Choi first. Of course, she wants Choi first she is the easier opponent.”
Hyun Mi-Choi has held the WBA super-featherweight title since 2014 and was signed to Matchroom with the intention of taking part in the in-house unification tournament. Choi was in line to face Harper last year until the former champion withdrew due to her hand injury. But Choi looks certain to now be in line to face Baumgardner, leaving Mayer facing the real possibility of being made to wait a little longer for a fight that will add more belts to her collection:
“I know this has switched up Eddie Hearn’s plan and everything. He’s lost another belt and he now has to try and keep those belts in his stable and probably match Baumgardner with Choi. But I still don’t know what his plans are I’m waiting for him to get on the phone with my manager. But we don’t expect him to give us that fight right away.”
The recent defeat of Harper has probably ended any immediate talk of the two fighting each other, at least for now, and is another fight that has seemingly got lost in the infamous world of boxing politics. To this observer, Harper looked uncertain in Sheffield, lost even. Mayer also believes her old rival had the look of a nervous fighter:
“I think she did lack confidence and she definitely looked a little bit nervous. Terri was coming off an injury and a layoff so maybe that played a part. Eddie hyped up Terri and let her become champ before she was fully ready and they tried to guide her and move around to get her some more experience. And I thought it was working he’s not putting her into too many hard fights. But during that whole process and me going at her with all the trash-talking, I started to believe all the hype. I should have known that she wasn’t that experienced and she still had a lot to learn especially coming off the injuries. I should have expected Baumgardner to win that fight, but I thought if Terri boxes and does what she is supposed to do and does what everyone expects her to do then she should win. But it showed she is not ready yet.”
The fight with Baumgardner always had the look of a fight that could end badly for the house fighter. Returning from injury and an extended lay-off, Team Harper would have been better served looking elsewhere for her comeback opponent. Mayer certainly believes the fight was a mistake:
“If I was Eddie I wouldn’t have matched her up against the likes of Natasha Jonas and Baumgardner while she was still developing but that is what happens when you are a champion in a competitive weight class. You have to be ready to defend it. I should have known but I got caught up in all the hype a little bit.”
The manner of the defeat leaves Harper facing an uncertain future. But she is young enough to still play a part on the world stage, and despite everything that has been said in the past, Mayer wishes her well on her return:
“It will be really hard to come back after two broken hands and a knockout defeat especially when she doesn’t have a ton of experience. But I wish her all the best, I am not going to kick her while she is down this was never really personal to me anyway.”
With Harper now facing a period of rebuilding, Mayer has to now turn her attention to the new rival. Nobody could seriously deny Baumgardner was impressive in her destruction of Harper. It was as brutal a finish as you are likely to see. Even Mayer admitted Baumgardner looked good in her title-winning effort, but insists that a fight with her would be very different:
“Baumgardner looked good and did what she had to do. She saw that Terri’s jab was a little lazy and she could come right over the top of it with her right hand and she did, she caught Terri nicely. I guess she has power. I wasn’t sold on her power because if you look at her Boxrec everyone that she has stopped has a losing record. We have two mutual opponents to and she didn’t knock them out. I think she does have power, there is no denying that, but I am no Terri Harper.”
Mayer beat Maiva Hamadouche in one of the fights of the year last month. It was a phone booth type of fight, and Mayer the taller fighter spent much of the fight in the pocket trading power shots with her relentless opponent. But that was a game plan for one fight, and Mayer will fight a very different fight with Baumgardner when and if they do eventually fight each other:
“People keep saying if I box Baumgardner like I boxed Hamadouche she will knock me out, but why would I box her like that. I am not going to box anyone like I boxed Hamadouche. That was a very specific plan of attack. I wouldn’t fight everyone like that. I would outbox Alycia and that’s how you beat someone like her.”
Mayer vs Harper could have happened long before recent events, but the waiting around and Harper losing has now consigned that fight to the what-if file of boxing history. Even if somehow the fight is resurrected down the line, it won’t carry the same meaning as it could have. Boxing tells us if we wait too long for something, it usually doesn’t happen or if it does, it is a pale shadow of what it could have been.
Mayer vs Baumgardner, if you remove all the promotional juggling and protecting, is a fight that needs to happen now. It could be THE fight in women’s boxing. Mayer wants the fight now, but she thinks Baumgardner wants to sit and protect what she has rather than take the harder fight against her:
“She has made it perfectly clear she doesn’t want to fight me next. Alycia can go around acting like I’m talking shit for no reason. But I have two reasons, the two belts. If she wants to hang in this division and in this era of women’s boxing she has to be ready to come and get it. Let her take her fight with Choi, but at the end of the day she will have to fight me eventually.”
As Mayer says, they will fight eventually. Why wait, and risk it never happening.