After representing the USA within the 2016 Summer season Olympics, Mikaela Mayer started to discover her skilled choices. Not like her male counterparts on that boxing staff that traveled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, profitable provides weren’t forthcoming.
Mayer (10-Zero, Four KOs), who faces Lizbeth Crespo (13-Four, three KOs) in a junior light-weight bout on Saturday on the MGM Grand Backyard Area in Las Vegas (ESPN2, 7 p.m. ET), was critically considering a profession in combined martial arts. Earlier than that would occur, she was capable of rating a gathering with Prime Rank.
“I sat there and instructed them, ‘Look, I do know there is not any marketplace for ladies’s boxing proper now, however there’s going to be a feminine to vary that — that feminine is me. I can try this,'” mentioned Mayer.
It was a robust pitch and Prime Rank determined she was price a roll of the cube.
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“She got here to our workplace and offered herself, inherently,” recalled Todd duBoef, president of the corporate. “She’s received swagger, she’s received confidence, she’s received the look and he or she’s received the flexibility. So we mentioned, ‘Pay attention, we’ll bounce into this, let’s simply get into this case with any person who has the presence, who has all of the substances.”
DuBoef did not simply desire a feminine fighter with potential — he needed one who additionally was marketable.
“I believe it is one in every of this stuff the place you hope she will pave the best way to get to a state of affairs that helps develop this boxing class for girls,” he defined. “Ronda Rousey did an amazing job for MMA. You then had Amanda Nunes, Cris Cyborg. However there was a trailblazer, any person to pave the best way. Hopefully Mikaela will be a kind of sorts.”
Being a trailblazer is a heavy burden to hold, however it’s a job that she not solely accepts, however relishes.
“I really feel like each time I step in that ring that I am representing ladies’s boxing as a complete, as a result of there’s solely a handful of ladies who’ve that stage, that platform, and I am one in every of them,” mentioned the 28-year-old resident of Colorado Springs, Colorado, who defeated Yareli Larions by unanimous choice in February.
“I’ve to point out the world that we’re right here to remain,” she continued. “We’re skillful, we’re gifted, we will promote fights.”
Her supervisor, George Diaz, notes that Mayer has a sponsorship with Everlast together with a number of endorsement offers. And as ladies’s boxing goes by means of a little bit of a renaissance, with main fights being given bigger levels than prior to now, Mayer is able to increase strikes.
Mikaela Mayer’s victory over Vanessa Bradford was the fifth of her six wins (in opposition to no losses) in 2018. AP Photograph/Nati Harnik
The latest instance of the place ladies’s boxing stands is the light-weight unification bout between Katie Taylor and Delfine Persoon, at Madison Sq. Backyard, which was one of many predominant undercard bouts earlier than the Anthony Joshua-Andy Ruiz heavyweight title struggle on June 1.
“What’s nice about ladies’s boxing is the world is lastly tuning in because of promoters signing ladies and placing us on massive playing cards,” mentioned Mayer.”I believed [the Taylor-Persoon fight] was an incredible struggle, it was a win-win for girls’s boxing as a result of they had been an amazing illustration of us.
“I do suppose in direction of the top that Katie received edged out by Persoon — I used to be anticipating them to offer Persoon the choice. I might have been pleased with a draw, as effectively. It was actually an in depth struggle, I would in all probability need to go and watch slightly nearer. However I am actually wanting ahead to that rematch. I believe the rematch will inform us quite a bit.”
Again in April, Claressa Shields turned the undisputed middleweight champion by defeating Christina Hammer at 160 kilos.
It was introduced this week that Showtime could be broadcasting Shields’ subsequent bout on Aug. 17 from her hometown of Flint, Michigan. Golden Boy Promotions not too long ago added to its roster of boxers by inking tremendous middleweight Franchon Crews-Dezurn to a contract as effectively.
So it is clear that the powers-that-be are making extra of a dedication to the ladies’s recreation. The most important query that continues to be is easy to ask, and more durable to reply: When will the expertise pool deepen to a degree the place extra high quality matchups can happen regularly?
“You positively see a spike within the expertise pool since ladies are boxing within the Olympics,” acknowledged Mayer. “Individuals at all times say, ‘Oh, what is the distinction between now and 10 years in the past, when no person cared about ladies’s boxing? And I at all times say it is the Olympics. It gave us that platform, it gave us the flexibility to return out and say, ‘Hey, I’m a world medalist, I am an Olympian, an Olympic medalist — one thing ladies could not do earlier than.”
And Mayer, who’s educated by Al Mitchell, continues to hone her expertise. The one factor you discover most as she bins is her stable basis. From her right-handed boxing stance, Mayer can management distance and spacing along with her sharp jab, she has a whole arsenal of punches and he or she strikes evenly on her ft.
After starting her professional profession with three bouts in 2017, she racked up six victories in as many fights. Now Mayer is closing in on a title shot at 130.
“We had been actually seeking to struggle for one of many belts, however frankly, these women needed to carry onto these belts longer, so that they mentioned come again to us within the fall,” defined Diaz. “We’re hoping in September, October we’ll have her first championship struggle lined up.”
The ladies on Mayer’s radar are Hyun Mi Choi (16-Zero-1, 14 KOs) of South Korea, who’s the present WBA ladies’s 130-pound belt-holder, and Eva Whalstrom (22-1-1, three KOs) of Finland, the previous WBC champion to carry that belt earlier than dropping to Taylor final December in a unification bout.
“I’ve a plan,” mentioned the assured Mayer. “Struggle for the world title at 130. I can nonetheless make 130, [but] I will not be capable of make 130 perpetually. I am nonetheless comfy at 130. I need to clear the division right here, after which subsequent yr I need to transfer as much as 135 after which I will problem the women up there, whether or not that is Katie, or if that is Persoon, on the time. Loads can occur in a yr.
“Then who is aware of, I nonetheless really feel I’ve quite a bit left in me within the sport. I really feel you may even see me at 140. I believe I’ve the peak, the velocity, the abilities to struggle at a number of weight lessons within the subsequent 4, 5 years.”
However her targets are extra than simply world titles. She needs to pave the best way for future generations.
“Within the subsequent three, 4 years I am planning to assist blow up ladies’s boxing,” Mayer states. “After which once I’m retired, hopefully the women arising behind me will not have that battle and can be getting the $300,000 signing bonus out of the Olympics, similar to these males are.
“I plan on altering issues over the following few years, for positive.”