Mikaela Mayer ready for Alycia Baumgardner – I’m the more complete boxer
Much has happened since Mikaela Mayer was last in town.
A month ago, Mayer and the women on this Saturday’s ground-breaking London O2 bill were ready to fight, but when Queen Elizabeth II passed away, boxing came to a temporary standstill and the show was postponed.
Now, Mayer is back and ready to face rival Alycia Baumgardner.
“Everyone’s super excited about the fight, I can definitely feel the energy, there’s lots of media but still lots of training to do, so I’ve been busy,” said Mayer.
Women’s boxing has gone mainstream. The ladies are shaming the men, with the best fighting the best and putting on classic fights. But Mayer always believed the sport could get to this level.
“I’ve been having that discussion a lot lately and I really did,” she explained. “I had to believe that I would be in this position. I had to believe that women’s boxing would get to this level. If you ask the same thing to Katie Taylor and Claressa [Shields]. they would have to say the same thing. You had to believe it, that even though everyone around us probably thought that we were crazy asking us what our back up plan was, we just had to believe.
“There was no time for a back-up plan. I didn’t really know exactly what it would look like, how could you? [But] It’s been so amazing the last couple of years, it’s been so unique and so different from anything I could have imagined but it’s great to finally be in one of these mega fights.”
Mayer shares top-billing alongside Shields and Savannah Marshall and the deep bill is one of the most-anticipated of the year. Mayer has seen the women’s side of the sport not just grow at the highest level, but through the ranks.
“I was just thinking about this,” Mayer continued. “This is the first training camp in a long, long time where I have had all women sparring partners. And the reason I say that and I think that’s so cool is that you used to have mostly men who would give you the push that you needed and I have had quality, high-level sparring for this whole camp and a handful of different ones. That’s really cool to see, and I think it proves how far the skill level of women’s boxing has come along. It’s not just how far we have come but that the skill is out there, so I can rely on women to really push me through an entire camp of this magnitude.”
She works with Al Mitchell, a former US Olympic coach who has nurtured talents including Floyd Mayweather.
“Coach Al is insane and crazy, and he just pushes me so hard all the time,” said Mayer. “He’s such a perfectionist. We were all in the gym sparring this week and the coaches were like “Thank you for sparring and we were like, ‘Can you come back on Saturday?’ And they were like, ‘Huh? You’re still sparring Saturday?’ ‘Yes, I need Saturday and Tuesday!’ People think it’s crazy but that’s the way coach Al is. Our last sparring is Tuesday, we still have sprints and we are working until a few days before the fight and it works. And I’m always grateful he has his system and he has a way that he does things and we don’t steer away from what works. This is my 18th camp. He drives me insane but I just don’t question the process. He always has me ready.”
Is Mayer ready to steal the show on Saturday night?
“I’m not trying to steal anything,” she added. “I was excited about joining forces with Shields-Marshall and sharing the stage with them. I think this is awesome for women’s boxing and I think people are equally excited for both of these fights. I don’t feel any competition with the Shields-Marshall fight at all, I really don’t. I know she’s the main event and I’m technically the co-main event but one of the reasons I wanted to put this fight on is I think the fans get a one-stop shop for two amazing world title fights and it’s just iconic and I think everyone sees if that way; the fans, the networks, the promoters. These are two high-level world class fights so I really don’t see any competition there and I think they’re both going to live up to the hype.”
There is no love lost between Mayer and Baumgardner, but 17-0 Mayer is also speedy to give her opponent her props.
“You will see two very skilled women,” the California-born Mayer said of their fight. “As much as I have said about Bumgardner, she’s obviously champion for a reason. She’s a skilled boxer, but I’ve said it all along, I’m the more complete boxer. I’ve been tested in more ways. I can fight in all areas of the ring and I believe she has a comfort zone that she wants to stay in and I’m going to take her out of her comfort zone. I know at some point in those 10 rounds I’m going to take her into deep waters and we will see if she can adjust to the pressure. But it’s definitely going to be a fight.”
The overall health of women’s boxing is at unprecedented levels. The girls, in many instances, pull for one another, and there doesn’t appear to be the same type of A-side/B-side squabbles that inhibit the men’s sport.
“Maybe to an extent, we probably do a little bit more and it’s setting a tone for boxing that we probably haven’t seen before,” admitted Mayer. “All the networks and promoters had to come together to make these fights and so did the boxers, I thought this was different and awesome and I was willing to hop on board and you also see the women creating these rivalries for the first time in history, these really, really big rivalries that are also helping to grow the sport.”