Mayer vs Baumgardner: Undisputed or Unfulfilled
In just a few week’s time, Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano will dance in New York, in the most important fight in women’s boxing history. Make no mistake, even in a sport that is littered with false narratives, it really is a truly historic moment.
Taylor and Serrano will quite rightly command all the attention and the headlines, it is a fight of the utmost importance. It will not be lost on either fighter that they will be involved in a historic moment in their sport. It is a pivotal fight that shows the significant progress of women’s boxing.
Taylor and Serrano have no real beef, the fight doesn’t need it. It sells itself, and that is telling. But we need more of the same, it can’t be a case of one and done on this type of stage.
Thankfully, we then have, or hope we have, Claressa Shields and Savannah Marshall to look forward to in the summer. That particular rivalry carries considerable beef, and that will help sell it to a wider audience. The big fights need to keep coming. And coming.
The super-featherweight division also has a potential fight that will give the sport what it needs once Taylor and Serrano have graced and danced on that iconic canvas. Rival world champions Mikaela Mayer and Alycia Baumgardner should already have fought. Timing is everything, but the perfect time might already have passed.
Mayer and Maiva Hamadouche gave us one of the greatest all-female fights of all time. Baumgardner destroyed Terri Harper in seriously impressive fashion. The two delivered statement-making performances last year. What else do they have to do, can it really get much bigger by waiting. I have my doubts.
Wait and it could be lost forever or it could certainly lose its importance, its edge. Baumgardner said wait and it becomes bigger, but it could become a lesser fight the longer it takes to get the fight made.
Baumgardner vs Edith Soledad Matthysse at the weekend hardly enhanced the fight with Mayer, it probably did the complete opposite. There was little or no crowd engagement, apathy and indifference to a throwaway world title fight that was only added to the Manchester card on a week’s notice. Matthysse did what she reasonably could be expected to do. Baumgardner did what she could do with an outgunned opponent who had more thoughts on survival than victory. It is hard to look good against that kind of opponent.
Matchroom deserves immense credit for its role in the rise of women’s boxing, but this wasn’t their finest hour. Relegated to a lower place on the card even behind a six-rounder did Baumgardner no favours, and was more than a step back. Yes, it was a late-notice hastily arranged fight, but still. Baumgardner after her upset win over Harper deserved better.
Mayer was in action the week previous and showed plenty in her exciting win over a fully prepared Jennifer Han. Mayer was allowed to show off more of her arsenal against Han who came with real ambition. Mayer headlined, Baumgardner was far lower down the card. There are ways to promote your fighter. For Baumgardner, it was in many ways, a missed opportunity through no fault of hers.
There is history in this very division that should serve as a stark warning that you should strike while the opportunity is there. The super-featherweight division has already lost the Terri Harper Natasha Jonas rematch and even Mayer lost out on her fight with Harper when her fellow American knocked Harper out on her feet in Sheffield. There were times when both fights should have got made, they waited for many reasons and both fights went up in smoke as a result. I fear the same mistakes will be made again. Are Team Baumgardner waiting for Mayer to outgrow the division? Mayer has made no secret of her wish to move up, are they hoping the struggles to make 130 will become too much for Mayer the longer they wait? If that is the case is it a sign of a lack in confidence? Does time give Baumgardner a greater chance of victory?
Baumgardner has said fights are not easy to make and she is right. Nothing is simple in boxing, Mayer is with Top Rank, Baumgardner is with Matchroom, make no mistake that is a problem. But if there is a will there is a way.
Mayer clearly wants the fight and now, Baumgardner wants to make her wait. Hyun Mi Choi looks next for Baumgardner, and despite Choi having the WBA title what interest is there in that fight certainly in comparison to a fight with Mayer. Does Choi have too much for Baumgardner, did the Harper win flatter the American somewhat? Is the fight with Choi one of little reward and too higher a risk for a much bigger fight that is ready and waiting right now?
There is a significant risk in waiting for the perfect moment. Will it ever come? An injury, a shock defeat, a mandatory either a convenient or a forced one, there are multiple ways to scupper a fight that looks far too good to waste and be lost for good.
The two rival champions have real heat between them, enough to even rival what Shields and Marshall have.
Baumgardner has said: “I will dog walk this bitch.”
Mayer responded with:
“Can’t fucking wait. Don’t try and baby that belt either. Time to back up your big mouth and unify.” For many reasons, we can’t lose this fight.
Between the ropes, Mayer and Baumgardner will likely provide us with an even better fight than what Taylor and Serrano will serve up at the end of the month. Why take the risk that it never happens? Recent history in the division should be enough of a warning to get it done right now.
But I have serious doubts the fight will ever get made, Mayer won’t wait forever and Baumgardner seems set on her own path. It would be a real travesty if women’s boxing loses the fight, the sport would get elevated further and so would the fighters. But sadly I suspect that will be the case. The quest to be undisputed could end up being a story of something unfulfilled.
Image Credit: DLG Image Creations