Mikaela Mayer unified the WBO and IBF junior lightweight titles tonight, beating Maiva Hamadouche in an outstanding, thrilling fight in Las Vegas.
The lone concern in the fight comes from — guess who! — the judges, who scored the bout 98-92, 99-91, and 100-90 for Mayer, with the latter two in particular seeming like ridiculous cards. Most observers seemed to have it closer to 96-94 or 97-93 for Mayer, with the latter being the unofficial score Bad Left Hook had.
Mayer (16-0, 5 KO) knew from the opening bell she was in the fight of her life here, as the always-relentless Hamadouche (22-2, 18 KO) brought the same fury and fire she always does, proving for certain that it has nothing to do with the level of her opposition, she just fights the way she fights and the opponent has to do something about it.
Mayer proved capable, though, where most fall short. Mikaela found her rhythm by the middle rounds, and started bossing the fight, thanks to a sincere body attack slowing Hamadouche down. Mayer ate plenty of shots, and she didn’t get to cruise like she has in most fights, but she definitely deserved the win here.
CompuBox saw Mayer landing 239 of 594 total punches to Hamadouche’s 233 of 872. The body shots tell what was probably the biggest story of the fight, as Mayer out-landed Hamadouche 78-13 to the body.
“I can bang it out on the inside. That wasn’t really the entire game plan, the game plan was to use my boxing, too,” Mayer said. “But in the back of the head I knew she was going to keep that gap closed and that she was going to keep me on the inside. Even though we trained for that, like, just being able to do it for 10 straight rounds definitely taught me a lot.”
She continued, “I was very cool, calm, and collected, and seeing more. Usually I’m a lot of reaction, but I was really able to slow things down and see things. You guys might have seen it close because she was the busier fighter, but the game plan wasn’t to match her punches, I was digging the harder shots.”
Mayer said once again that she believes she is the best in the 130 lb division, and that she wants to go undisputed, which would mean targeting fights with WBC titleholder Terri Harper and WBA titleholder Hyun Mi Choi, both Matchroom fighters, as is Hamadouche.
And while Mayer felt the scoring was fair enough, she also had real respect for her opponent.
“I’ve been looking for a test like Hamadouche my entire (career). She definitely pushed me, I had to train extra hard. I respected her enough to go into camp and train harder than I’ve ever trained,” she said. “Big props to her, she’s been a long-time champion, I know she still has a lot of fight in her, we’ll see her again. But this is my time.”
“This is what boxing needs more of, the men and women fighting like these young ladies did tonight,” Mayer’s trainer Al Mitchell said, and I’m sure all of us agree.
Luis Melendez UD-8 Thomas Mattice
A questionable decision and if I had to pick a winner I would have gone with Mattice, but I scored the fight even at 76-76, and all three judges had it 77-75 for Melendez. I will say this: I thought I possibly undervalued the work of Mattice in rounds two through four even after I put in my own scores that mean nothing, and I could change that and be outraged, but it is what it is or whatever.
Melendez (17-1, 13 KO) started well in the fight but Mattice (17-3-1, 13 KO) came alive nicely as the rounds wore on, digging some good body work and also handily out-jabbing Melendez. Unfortunately for Mattice, even if you take away any potential theories that the hugely valuable (??) Melendez had corruption on his side, judges quite often do not give much attention to body work especially, nor to an effective jab.
I thought Melendez had good control of the tempo early on, but yeah, the second half of the fight saw Mattice really find a solid rhythm. Neither of these guys are headed for pay-per-view main events unless one of them gets a fight with Gervonta Davis, maybe, so flaws on both sides were apparent, but again, if I really had to pick who I think fought the better fight, it would be Mattice. The best thing we can get from this on the Melendez side is having it be a learning experience for him; he’s 23, so he has time to get better.
As for Mattice, the result won’t change his status in the sport, really. People and promoters know what he brings to the table at this point. He’s inconsistent, yes, but when he gets it going, he’s a really solid fighter who will test your guy. If you want the test, Mattice can be signed up.
- Andres Cortes TKO-3 Mark Bernaldez: Good little fight while it lasted, Cortes (16-0, 9 KO) forced a stoppage on a pressure attack at 2:12 of the third round, which seemed a little early but Bernaldez (23-5, 17 KO) did not seem to be too upset about it, maybe more relieved than anything. A lot of respect shown by Cortes after the fight, too, he clearly respected Bernaldez’s power, but he was able to bully the bully and Bernaldez didn’t handle the pressure terribly well. The 24-year-old Cortes is becoming someone to keep a real eye on at 130 lbs, especially with Top Rank having a huge stake in that division.
- Abdullah Mason TKO-2 Jaylan Phillips: A really fun debut for the 17-year-old Mason, an amateur standout turning pro as a lightweight, who worked with Shakur Stevenson in camp ahead of Stevenson’s win over Jamel Herring. Everyone’s had a lot of great things to say about Abdullah — Shakur, Bob Arum, Andre Ward — and he pretty much lived up to the hype, and that was helped in part by the fact that the 22-year-old Phillips (1-1, 1 KO) also didn’t look like any compete scrub or anything, he also looked like a young fighter you might could make something of with some investment. But Mason is definitely the guy to watch, this is a real new prospect in the Top Rank stable.
- Ian Green UD-8 Tyler Howard: Howard takes his first loss here, and it comes wide on the cards, with the judges score it 79-72, 79-72, and 80-71 in favor of Green, who goes to 15-2 (11 KO). Howard (19-1, 11 KO) has been on a number of Top Rank cards now, and he’s always looked like a guy who would either be carefully guided to a title fight that ended poorly, or lose in a fight like this. He lost in a fight like this, just didn’t have the skills to match Green. Howard is also 27, it’s not like he’s a 20-year-old. I think we’ve now clearly seen Howard’s ceiling, and it just is what it is.
- Rowdy Legend Montgomery KO-3 Martez McGregor: This was a club-level matchup, a FloCombat-level matchup, and unlike similar sort of fights we’ve seen on recent Top Rank cards, I can’t imagine this was any big local draw in, you know, Las Vegas. Plus it went on first instead of a bit further into the card with the hope that people would have stuck around after coming to see this. So we just saw this fight for whatever reason, and the 35-year-old Montgomery (7-3-1, 5 KO) was the one to land the loaded up shot clean first, knocking out the 31-year-old McGregor (8-6, 6 KO) under halfway into round three.