It’s on to the next one for Mikaela Mayer—and the next one is perhaps her biggest career opportunity yet.
The unbeaten WBO junior lightweight champ registered her first successful defense in a 10-round unanimous decision victory over former two-division Erica Farias (26-5, 10KOs). Mayer (15-0, 5KOs) won by scores of 98-92, 98-92 and 97-93 in an ESPN2-televised title fight on June 19 at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. While never overlooking her opponent, the sense was always that the fight was part of the bigger picture as a title unification clash with IBF titlist Maiva Hamadouche (22-1, 18KOs) is waiting on the other side of the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
Securing the fight was key for Mayer, who has repeatedly spoken into existence her intention to become undisputed junior lightweight champion. That part will likely come in a showdown with unbeaten divisional rival and reigning WBC/IBO champ Terri Harper (11-0-1, 6KOs), who has a title unification bout in her future as well with a forthcoming showdown versus WBA titlist Hyun Mi Choi (18-0-1, 4KOs).
“I look forward to unifying the 130-pound division,” Mayer told BoxingScene.com. “I do believe all of these fights will happen and we will have one undisputed champion. The division is really on fire right now. Terri Harper was supposed to fight Choi, she got injured but I believe they will still fight.
“Maiva Hamadouche is fighting in the Olympics this year but… we will fight afterward to unify these (WBO and IBF) titles.”
Mayer was hoping to land a title unification clash for her first bout of 2021, but the lingering effects of the pandemic and the delayed Tokyo Olympics put those plans on hold.
Hamadouche will represent her native France in this summer’s Olympics, participating in the lightweight division before returning to her the pros where she has reigned as IBF titlist since scoring a 10-round unanimous decision win over Jennifer Salinas in November 2016. Six title defenses have followed for the 31-year-old from Paris, while Mayer—who represented the U.S. in the 2016 Rio Olympics—has held her WBO belt since a 10-round virtual shutout of unbeaten Ewa Brodnicka last October at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.
Before and after the win, Mayer made a point to go after all of the reigning titlists. There were previous talks of a showdown with Hamadouche, only for the bout to never materialize. The two have since agreed to terms —prior to Saturday’s win over Farias, in fact—for a two-belt unification clash later this year.
The best publicized rivalry in the division is the playful online banter between Mayer and England’s Harper. Mayer has generated plenty of press on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, at times serving as an even greater media attraction in the U.K. than has been the case in her home base.
Whatever verbal lumps came with the territory will be well worth it in the long haul.
“I believe that quite a few fans took offense to my cattiness at first, but people are seeing that it’s working,” notes Mayer, who boasts several endorsement deals along with more than 155,000 followers across social media platforms. “Boxing needs rivalries. We need rivalries just like the men. When me and Terri Harper go head-to-head, it’s going to be a very big fight.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox