Alycia Baumgardner was saying for months she would dominate Mikaela Mayer. While that didn’t happen, Baumgardner did do enough on Saturday in London to become the unified junior lightweight champion.
In a fight that could have gone either way after months of trash talking between the two, Baumgardner won on two of the cards, 96-95, with Mayer taking the third card, 97-93, giving Baumgardner the WBC, IBF and WBO titles.
It started off slowly for Mayer, who had held the IBF and WBO titles, with Baumgardner (13-1, 7 KO) taking clear control in the early rounds of the fight. Mayer settled down in the fourth round and rebounded, but almost every round in the back half of the fight was incredibly close.
“I worked my ass off to get here,” Baumgardner said on the broadcast following the fight.
It capped a life-changing 12 months for Baumgardner, who stepped into the high-level scene by knocking out Terri Harper on Nov. 13, 2021, to win the WBC title. It also started the back-and-forth with Mayer. After a win over Edith Soledad Matthysse in April, Baumgardner agreed to fight Mayer in May.
And on Saturday, she put herself into the conversation of the best fighters in the sport.
After the scorecards were announced, Mayer threw down her hands and walked off, clearly unhappy with the decision in a fight that was incredibly close.
The bout was the co-main event of an all-women card at O2 Arena headlined by a bout between Claressa Shields and Savannah Marshall for the undisputed middleweight championship.
Mayer (17-1, 5 KO) won the middle rounds of her fight, with each of the final rounds being difficult to score.
“I think I landed the cleaner shots,” Baumgardner said. “The harder shots.”
In one of the more pivotal moments of the fight, Baumgardner cut Mayer over the right eye in the seventh round after what felt like three straight rounds of Mayer being the aggressor to come back into the fight.
Baumgardner landed 116 of 335 punches (34.6 percent) with Mayer landing 104 of 361 (28.8 percent). Mayer landed a higher percentage of jabs (26.6 percent to 26 percent) while also throwing 98 more jabs than Baumgardner (229 to 131). Mayer landed 61 jabs, Baumgardner 34.
Baumgardner, a power puncher, tried more power shots — 40.2 percent to Mayer’s 32.6 percent — landing 82 of 204 power punches. Mayer landed 43 of 132 power punches. The power punches thrown and landed were career highs for Baumgardner. Mayer’s 43 power punches landed, and the eight landed in the sixth round, are the most landed against Baumgardner in her career.
After the fight, Baumgardner said she would not entertain an immediate rematch but instead will go after the undisputed title. WBA champion Hyun-Mi Choi holds the other belt in the division.
Mayer believed she won and would like to fight Baumgardner a second time — and thinks fans want it as well.
“I’m really confident that I won that fight,” Mayer said in a quote provided by Top Rank. “She was defeated. I saw it in her eyes. She was tired. She knows she lost the fight. She was shocked by the decision. She got lucky. I think the crowd believes that I won that fight.
“I took control of the fight from the second round on, for sure. At the very least, I won seven rounds clearly. I felt like I had it. I hope that she gives me a rematch. I think I deserve it, and I feel that the fans want to see it.”
Mayer-Baumgardner round-by-round analysis:
Round 1: Baumgardner was a bit more aggressive this round — a slow one for both fighters — and landed probably the best punch of the round. Baumgardner 10-9.
Round 2: Baumgardner again landed more and better shots than Mayer, timing what Mayer is trying to do. Baumgardner 10-9, Baumgardner 20-18.
Round 3: By far Mayer’s best round thus far, but Baumgardner countered well. A close round, but another round for Baumgardner. Baumgardner 10-9. Baumgardner 30-27.
Round 4: Mayer was pushing forward for really the first time in the fight and landed a couple of strong punches, enough to win the round. A late right hand sealed it for Mayer. Mayer 10-9. Baumgardner 39-38.
Round 5: Another aggressive round with more punches landed for Mikaela Mayer, who appears to have shifted what her initial strategy was. Smart round for Mayer. Mayer 10-9. Baumgardner 48-47.
Round 6: A much closer round but Mikaela Mayer was still the more aggressive fighter who had the stronger round. Mayer 10-9. 57-57.
Round 7: Alycia Baumgardner with her best round since Round 3, creating a cut over Mikaela Mayer’s eye and landing way more punches this round. Baumgardner 10-9. Baumgardner 67-66.
Round 8: Another close round, but Baumgardner a bit more aggressive and had more moments of control in the round. Baumgardner 10-9. Baumgardner 77-75.
Round 9: Surprise, a close round. Mikaela Mayer worked the jab well to set up a couple of stronger punches, enough to win the round. Mayer 10-9. Baumgardner 86-85.
Round 10: Mikaela Mayer a little bit stronger again in this round, the last round. A close round in what has been a close fight, but goes to Mayer, who seemed to connect a bit more and was a bit more aggressive. Mayer 10-9. Draw 95-95.