Mayer vs Baumgardner: The Heat Is On
It looked as though it would never come. Another fight claimed by the merry-go-round of boxing politics. But when all immediate hope seemed to have gone, suddenly, out of practically nowhere, we got the fight. Today, we got official confirmation of when and where.
On September 10th, Mikaela Mayer and Alycia Baumgardner will settle practically everything at super-featherweight and their own personal feud in London. Two Americans fighting on British soil, but in many ways, it is the perfect fit.
Mayer and Baumgardner don’t like each other, an understatement if ever there was one. The heat they have now will only intensify as the build-up continues. The fight will serve as the chief support to the much-anticipated Claressa Shields and Savannah Marshall showdown. Come first bell, they are likely to become the main course, almost certainly they will deliver the better fight.
The progress of women’s boxing is highlighted again as two of the most anticipated fights of the year are now signed, sealed and delivered, and on the same card. Neither fight is likely to be one of hugs and handshakes, the anticipation will only grow as the verbal exchanges get a little more personal over the coming weeks.
Mayer, the teenager rebel who found her cause, has made no secret of her intentions. However, the undisputed aims may never come, the one outstanding belt that will be left to gather will likely prove one of irrelevance and frustration. If Mayer wins at the O2 in September, she is likely to move on to the lightweight division and leave the remaining champion to sit and wait without her. Mayer has wasted enough time trying to entice the WBA champion Hyun Mi-Choi out of her limited schedule, and more importantly, her comfort zone. Unless something drastically changes, September will be the last time we see Mayer fight at super-featherweight.
But her fellow American brings plenty to the table. Terri Harper found that Baumgardner can not be overlooked. The Harper team cited weight-making as at least part of the reason for her demise in Sheffield last year. But regardless if that was a valid excuse or one of convenience, the power Baumgardner showed in Sheffield must be a concern to any fighter, but she had the fight won long before that brutal fight-ending punch landed. The American was just the better fighter. Sometimes it’s that simple. Harper was wise not to invoke her rematch clause.
But Mayer has repeatedly said she isn’t Harper. When Mayer and Harper were having their own little thing, this observer always believed Mayer would have been far too rounded for Harper. Baumgardner will find Mayer a much tougher adversary.
Baumgardner brings power, but Mayer will bring the greater all-round game. As good as Baumgardner looked against Harper, she didn’t look anywhere near as impressive against Edith Soledad Matthysse in Manchester earlier this year. Did the Harper win flatter to deceive?
Mayer has the better resume, would Baumgardner beat Maiva Hamadouche. I have my doubts. I have a feeling Hamadouche would be a little too much for Baumgardner. In her fight with Hamadouche, Mayer showed her versatility and proved her toughness. Baumgardner is the fighter with still much to prove. But if she beats Mayer, she will have nothing left to prove.
But victory for either fighter is far from certain, and with the more than simmering heat between the pair, Mayer and Baumgardner will not disappoint. Women’s boxing needs fights like this. Boxing period needs it.
Shields vs Marshall and Mayer vs Baumgardner could have landed elsewhere in the boxing world, but Sky and Boxxer have dug a little deeper to make both fights happen and deliver them on the same non-PPV card. They deserve credit for doing so.
Credit should go to all four fighters also, excuses could have been made and all could have gone in a much safer direction. All four will promote the hell out of the card, an added bonus to all concerned.
It will be an all-female show, the first-ever such card in the UK. The next step in the continuing progress of women’s boxing and something that would have seemed a thing of pure fantasy not so long ago. We are not there yet, but we are closer to it than we have ever been before.