Press Conference Notes: Unified Champ Mikaela Mayer Ready for Former Champ Jennifer Han
Mayer-Han headlines ESPN-televised fight night Saturday in Costa Mesa, California
WBO/IBF junior lightweight world champion Mikaela Mayer, the Southern California native who is now one of the sport’s top pound-for-pound talents, is ready for her home region title defense.
Mayer will defend her belts against former featherweight world champion Jennifer Han on Saturday evening at the Orange County Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa, California (ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+, 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT).
At the press conference, it was announced that Mayer inked a multi-year contract extension with Top Rank. Mayer signed with Top Rank after representing the U.S. at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
At Thursday’s press conference, this is what the fighters had to say.
“Ever since I walked into a gym 14 years ago, I’ve been fighting for a place for women in the sport and to prove that we are a powerful force in the sport of boxing. This contract solidifies that. I’ve completed that goal to an extent. Obviously, there is a long way to go with creating equality in the sport and closing that gap, but I couldn’t be happier with this contract. It’s a dream contract. It’s a contract I have been fighting for all these years, and I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else but Top Rank.”
“I haven’t fought in LA in a long time. It’s kind of come full circle. I started here 14 years ago when I was 17. And I left at 19 years old with a dream: to become an Olympian and become one of the best female fighters in the world. Fourteen years later, I’m here fighting in the main event on ESPN. I’ve come a long way.”
“I’ve known Jennifer for a long time. In one of my first amateur tournaments, she was there cornering for her sister. She was around, and she had already been in the game. She’s been in this game for a really long time. She comes from a family of fighters, so it’s in her blood. She just went 10 rounds against the 135-pound undisputed champion, Katie Taylor, so I have tons of respect for her. I know she has experience and has trained hard, and we didn’t look past her at all in preparing for this fight.”
“It’s no secret that I wanted to continue to unify. I wanted Alycia Baumgardner. I wanted Hyun Mi Choi. That was my first choice. They’re not quite ready to step up to that, I guess, so we had to look at another direction.”
“We wanted to fight someone who is strong and proven. We don’t want any easy fights. We want to continue growing and getting better. Jennifer Han had just come off a strong fight against Katie Taylor, and we thought that would be a good matchup for now. We trained hard for her. We know that she had just given birth going into the fight with Katie Taylor and she still did what she did, but we expect her to be even sharping coming into this fight.”
“I’ve been in boxing for over 20 years. I’ve worked my entire life for these kinds of opportunities. When I first started boxing, I didn’t think these things would happen. I didn’t think I’d be headlining on ESPN. This is amazing. I am very, very grateful.”
“This is huge. When I first started boxing, we were working hard just to get put on television. During my championship reign, I never got televised, and it was very frustrating. Women’s boxing has grown a lot. And I’m very excited to finally be on TV to showcase our talent.”
“The Katie Taylor fight was quite an experience. It was right after I had my second child, so I had quite the obstacle of losing weight, which is not fun. But it’s OK. It’s part of boxing, and she wouldn’t have called me if I was ready. I have no regrets. It was a great experience for me, but that was not my best performance.”
“I’ve had time since then. I’m ready. I’m prepared. And this fight came at the right time. Top Rank could have chosen anybody else. Mikaela could have chosen anybody else, but you gave me this opportunity. I’ve prepared. I’ve worked hard. And this is my time.”
SATURDAY, April 9
ESPN, ESPN Deportes & ESPN+
10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT
Mikaela Mayer vs. Jennifer Han, 10 rounds, Mayer’s WBO & IBF Junior Lightweight World Titles
Giovani Santillan vs. Jeovanis Barraza, 10 rounds, welterweight
Andrew Moloney vs. Gilberto Mendoza, 8 rounds, junior bantamweight
(Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank via Getty Images)