Sports

“It’s great to be part of this generation”

Katie Taylor, Amanda Serrano, Claressa Shields and Savannah Marshall. These are just some of the stars of women’s boxing to emerge in the last decade.

Mikaela Mayer, the unified world super featherweight champion signed to Top Rank, is among those names as a key figure in this revolutionary generation.

Mayer turned pro in 2017 with Top Rank

Getty

Mayer turned pro in 2017 with Top Rank

“I always knew deep down that I was going to be a big player in this game and that I was going to have a career in boxing,” Mayer said.

“Even though there wasn’t a market for it, I always believed I could do it.

“Women’s boxing is so popular and thriving right now so it’s amazing to be a part of this generation. There is still a lot to do, but we have come a long way.”

It wasn’t until 2012 that women could compete in the Olympics, and Mayer believes that was a key factor in cultivating the competitive nature of women’s boxing today.

“The talent pool is so much bigger than it was in Laila Ali’s days and a big part of that is getting us to compete in the Olympics. Now we have this pool of athletes capable of competing at the highest level and our skills have grown.

“This is the first generation where Olympic champions come to the pros and compete against each other. So people take notice and we gain a lot more respect.”


Despite all the advances that have been made in women’s boxing, it’s still a difficult game to navigate.

Mayer found that out quickly as she transitioned into the pro ranks with no offers on the table.

“Although I always felt like I was someone who would develop the market for women’s boxing, for a second I almost lost faith in it because it was so hard to get out of the Olympics and I felt like I was back to where I started,” she admitted.

Laila Ali is the daughter of Muhammad Ali and competed between 1999 and 2007, winning multiple world titles in the process

Getty

Laila Ali is the daughter of Muhammad Ali and competed between 1999 and 2007, winning multiple world titles in the process

Just when it seemed like boxing might not be a viable career choice and Mayer was considering switching to MMA, she landed a meeting with Top Rank President Todd Du Boeuf, who was initially skeptical about signing Mayer.

The American said: “I had to sell myself to Todd Du Boeuf that if there were a woman to change the market and create the space for women in sport, it would be me.”

It’s safe to say that after becoming a unified world champion and leading her own card more than once, Mayer was worth the investment for Top Rank.

With that in mind, Mayer admitted that winning a world title doesn’t change your life as a female boxer the way it does for men, and it was only after her unification bout with Maiva Hamadouche that she truly received the respect she deserved.

Mayer defeated Maiva Hamadouche via unanimous decision to become the unified IBF and WBO super featherweight champion of the world.

Getty

Mayer defeated Maiva Hamadouche via unanimous decision to become the unified IBF and WBO super featherweight champion of the world.

In terms of next steps, Mayer looks to the top of women’s boxing and the top of the pound-for-pound list.

Mayer said: “I’ve worked my way up the pound-for-pound list and I still have work to do, but I definitely aim to be at the top of that list for the next few years.”

Mayer is coached by legendary trainer Al Mitchell.

He was the head coach of the US Olympic boxing team in 1996 and has worked with over 800 national amateur champions and three professional world champions – the perfect man to lead Mayer to the top.

She added, “Al definitely doesn’t cut corners, we work really hard at every single camp, he keeps me humble and doesn’t let me look past anyone.”

Taylor and Serrano will manage Madison Square Garden

Mark Robinson/Matchroom

Taylor and Serrano will manage Madison Square Garden

Ideally, Mayer would like to become the undisputed champion at 130lbs, but the other two champions, Alycia Baumgardner and Hyun Mi Choi, are signed to Matchroom Boxing and Mayer believes Eddie Hearn has them reserved for a unification bout.

Alternatively, Mayer has an option to move up to lightweight where she could potentially face winner Katie Taylor against Amanda Serrano as the two will meet in the ring on April 30th and Mayer will attend ringside at ringside.

“I’d like to go up to 135 pounds, I’d love to go up against the winner of Taylor vs Serrano,” she said.

“I always envisioned a fight between me and Katie, a big fight that I’ve had for years. She’s achieved a lot, she’s at the top of her game and that’s a test for me, it’s a challenge.”

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Andrew Schnitker

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