Two large fights. Each could have been a most important occasion on a card of its personal.
When Claressa Shields faces Savannah Marshall and Mikaela Mayer fights Alycia Baumgardner on an all-female ten-fight card at the O2 Arena in London on Saturday, it will be a further touchstone point for girls in boxing.
The Katie Taylor-Amanda Serrano megafight in April showed women’s boxing could headline — and sell out — New York’s Madison Square Garden. Then Shields-Marshall got booked for London, producing a enormous undisputed middleweight title fight. The card added Mayer-Baumgardner, a WBO, WBC and IBF junior lightweight unification title fight amongst two fighters who loathe every single other.
In a sport exactly where the fights fans want to see amongst higher-level fighters in their primes normally appear so challenging to book, the women’s side of boxing seems to have figured it out.
“It’s saying that women’s boxing can sell,” Shields stated. “Women’s boxing does have a significant fan base. People do want to see us fight. Women’s boxing is producing the finest fights. Me versus Savannah Marshall is the Errol Spence Jr. versus Terence Crawford, the Canelo [Alvarez] versus GGG [Gennadiy Golovkin]. This is that fight.
“And then we have Alycia Baumgardner versus Mikaela Mayer. This is a fight, this is a grudge match. This is the Laila Ali versus Ann Wolfe, if that is what you want to get in touch with it. It’s 1 of the prime fights. I assume with us all becoming on the card with each other, it really is displaying that when we all come with each other, we shine. And women’s boxing can be constructed up that way.”
The fight card attributes 3 of ESPN’s pound-for-pound women’s prime ten: Shields is No. two, Mayer No. five and Marshall No. 7. Baumgardner is just outdoors the Top ten at No. 11.
This occasion may be the subsequent step for women’s boxing. On the men’s side, there have been sturdy double-dips of fights on the identical card. Shields stated it helped create the fan bases of all of the fighters on these cards.
There is hope Saturday’s card will do the identical for the 4 girls titleholders involved, particularly the two in the co-most important occasion, who could use a enhance in raising their profiles. Here’s a appear at Mayer and Baumgardner.
Mikaela Mayer: From liking the Spice Girls to looking for a slice of the UK audience
It started as a organization choice. Mayer saw the really like fans had been providing boxing — especially women’s boxing — in the United Kingdom and wanted to be component of it. She was committed to expanding her fans in her house nation, the United States, but this was an chance.
Mayer, the WBO and IBF champion, initially was a Twitter villain in the United Kingdom when it looked like she was going to face Great Britain’s Terri Harper, the WBC champ, in a unification bout. But when Harper lost her title to Baumgardner final year, that helped Mayer move beyond the villain part. Mayer also started to place herself out there additional in the UK, flying there numerous instances to broadcast boxing for Sky Sports and engage with fans.
“In the final couple of years, women’s boxing has hit a level we’ve under no circumstances noticed it hit just before,” Mayer stated. “And a lot of noise is taking location in the UK, just more than the final couple years.”
The 32-year-old’s fascination with the UK began extended just before her boxing profession, although. Like a lot of other individuals who grew up in the 1990s and early 2000s, she was an obsessed fan of the Spice Girls. Seeing the British girl group at The Forum in Los Angeles was the initial concert for Mayer, a former metal band bassist.
She knows the words to — and has dances for — virtually just about every Spice Girls song. She would even strategy what she wore for the day primarily based on irrespective of whether she felt additional like Posh, Baby, Sporty, Scary or Ginger Spice.
“I nonetheless do that,” Mayer stated. “It’s just such an quick way to, like, break down and aid break via what sort of outfit you happen to be hunting for.”
Mayer nonetheless has a dance to “Spice Up Your Life,” 1 she’s unafraid to break out. It would not be surprising if there is some thing Spice Girls-connected top up to her fight Saturday.
She flew to the UK early from her house in Colorado to get adjusted to the time distinction and also since of added media requests. It’s component of a strategy set up by her manager, George Ruiz, and Melissa Takimoglu, who assists run Mayer’s publicity in the UK. The technique is to turn Mayer into a well-known name in boxing on two continents.
“This is just me having in front of a diverse audience, an audience that currently knows my name,” Mayer stated. “They currently know who I am. I’m just sort of having to carry out for them, providing back to the fans on this side of the pond.
“Ultimately what I want to achieve from this is a further belt. That’s the most essential factor: a further belt. Another win and 1 step closer to becoming undisputed. And I wanna reel in a entire s— ton of strong fans on the way.”
Alycia Baumgardner: ‘I wanted to be terrific at something’
When Baumgardner was eight years old and expanding up in Fremont, Ohio, wrestling against boys and coaching at the Fremont Wreckers Boxing Club, she told herself some thing that has stuck with her. As she worked her way via higher college and the start off of college, via operating as an aide in a nursing house to a experienced boxing profession, Baumgardner kept a lofty objective in thoughts.
“I wanted to be terrific at some thing,” Baumgardner stated. “And I did not want to reside an typical life. I told myself that all the time.”
Baumgardner took a large step toward greatness final November when she beat Harper to capture the WBC belt.
Another early-life objective for Baumgardner was to develop into her personal boss, and she has applied boxing as her path toward attaining that. Early in her profession, she sold tickets herself to make confident she and her opponent received payment for fights. She did not have a higher-finish promoter or tv network broadcasting her fights. Baumgardner ran her personal life, produced her personal choices.
She fought all more than the eastern half of the United States till, immediately after dealing with injuries and delays due to COVID, Baumgardner was booked for her initial fight outdoors of the U.S. — a title shot against Harper in Sheffield, England. In the fourth round, Baumgardner landed a vicious ideal hand that knocked Harper out even though she was nonetheless standing. It was 1 of the knockouts of the year — and turned the 28-year-old Baumgardner into the champion she often envisioned she would develop into.
“[Harper] was a globe champion, OK? She was with Matchroom,” Baumgardner stated. “They named me on late notice to fight this girl. I went more than there and I beat her across the pond.
“And not only did I beat her, I produced a statement.”
Baumgardner thinks her accomplishment has been overlooked in the final year as women’s boxing has grown. She’s shown she has energy. She’s shown she can be a champion and defend a title, as she defeated Edith Soledad Matthysse in April. Now Baumgardner is attempting to turn herself into a correct star, and beating Mayer would potentially push her forward.
“This fight suggests legacy, for 1, but it builds a profile,” Baumgardner stated. “It solidifies who Alycia Baumgardner is, ideal? It tells a story about this girl who has come up in a diverse route, became globe champion and now is unifying the division with Mikaela Mayer, who takes place to be, quote-unquote, the finest or 1 of the finest.
“It just tells the story of this underdog, an underdog story. That’s how I really feel [about] this fight.”
The rest of the card
There are numerous bouts that seem to be showcases bouts for up-and-coming fighters, such as 3 2020 Olympians: Lauren Price (1-), who won middleweight gold for Great Britain countrywoman Karriss Artingstall (1-), the featherweight bronze medalist at these Games in Tokyo and Ginny Fuchs (1-), the captain of the United States boxing group in Tokyo, fighting at junior bantamweight.
Lightweight Caroline Dubois (three-, two KO) will fight for the fourth time this year, facing Milena Koleva (ten-14-1, four KO). Junior featherweights Ebonie Jones (two–1) and Sarah Liegmann (four-, 1 KO) will fight in separate bouts. Junior bantamweight Shannon Ryan (two-) is also an intriguing fighter on the card.