Alycia Baumgardner (left) takes aim against Terri Harper (right) – Photo by Mark Robinson/ Matchroom Boxing
Alycia Baumgardner liked to hit things growing up. The pint-sized dynamo was a great all-around athlete as a child. She dabbled in gymnastics, wrestling, softball, track and field and especially boxing, which she started at the age of eight. She had many cousins and she hung out with them. The 28-year-old isn’t intimidated.
So when she faced Ring, IBF and WBO junior lightweight titleholder Mikaela Mayer on Tuesday, Baumgardner, the WBC titleholder who is the Ring’s second junior lightweight, felt her bigger foe radiate with fear. The lightweight unification showdown will take place at the O2 Arena, London, England, this Saturday on ESPN (2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT) and on Sky Sports in the UK (7 p.m. GMT ).
Baumgardner’s (12-1, 7 KO) goal is to get within reach of Mayer and punish the 32-year-old to the body. The 5-foot-9 Mayer (17-0, 5 KO) will try to keep the 5-foot-6 Baumgardner on the outside at the end of his jab.
Baumgardner, known as “The Bomb”, feels she has several advantages over Mayer. Trust above all.
“It was a bit intense when we first met (Tuesday) and that told me where I belong,” said Baumgardner, who is trained by former WBC junior middleweight titlist Tony Harrison. , who works with Baumgardner in Detroit, Michigan. “It told me (also) that she’s scared, that she’s threatened, and it tells me that she knows she’s going to lose on Saturday. That’s all I needed to see. I go out of energy. She’s definitely nervous. Her body language told me that. I read people easily.
“She is 5-7 years old. She’s not 5-9. But I don’t care, 5-7, 5-9, 5-11. As a fighter, you adapt and she fights like a great fighter, which suits me better. She fights squarely. It’s perfect. Standing next to her, she wasn’t much taller than me.
Baumgardner is aware that Mayer is considered the “A side”, which doesn’t matter to her either. She has been in title fights before.
“It’s okay, I know what my mission is to beat her,” she said. “My fight against Terri Harper (when Baumgardner won the WBC belt by TKO 4) I was the ‘B-side’. That’s why I say it doesn’t matter. Look what happened to him I had a great camp for this fight. I’ve been fighting for 20 years. I feel like I’ve finished it all (Mayer). My technique, my experience, it’s a way of life for me. I have first wrestled when I was five. Boxing is something that got stuck. We made it a reality. My parents saw something special in me. I was a naturally gifted athlete, and my parents knew how to impose this on me.
Baumgardner feels like she faced and overcame adversity when she lost to Christina Linardatou by split decision in 2018 in an intense fight. She faced a 9-1 fighter, and Baumgardner still feels like she won. She says the loss doesn’t define her. She knows what it’s like to lose and what it’s like to take a two-year layoff (during the COVID-19 pandemic, when she underwent surgery to repair a partially torn ACL in the right knee that she was injured in a fight). She says Mayer is an “entitled” champion, who has never faced adversity.
Baumgardner hopes Mayer will come forward and commit. She says she’s ready for whatever Mayer brings.
“You’re going to see a fight,” she promised. “I know she has an amateur style, so she’s going to be on her bike all the time. For me it will be about cutting the ring and that means throwing my punches in bunches. If she wants to show up, we can make it a dogfight. I’m here to put her on the canvas and make sure she doesn’t get up. With this fight, you’re going to see someone get arrested.
“I gave her three options: her trainer is going to throw me in the towel, the ref is going to stop her or I knock her out. It’s going to be great. Everyone is going to enjoy it. I’m overweight. My weight is good. She looks like a raisin (laughs).
“Mayer’s face tells me she’s scared. My only plan is to keep moving forward and she’s on my way.
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has worked for Ring Magazine/RingTV.com since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on twitter @JSantoliquito [twitter.com].