“All eyes are on me now, but I always knew that was going to happen” Alycia Baumgardner explains confidently on the phone.
It’s been a whirlwind few weeks for the 27-year-old fighter from Michigan, reflecting on winning the WBC junior lightweight title in Sheffield, England, in just her 12th professional contest.
“Everyone wants my position. But I love that. That keeps me on my toes and keeps me hungry and wanting to continue working hard. Like George Kambosos Jr said last weekend: ‘The hunter has become the hunted.’”
There’s an unmistakable aura of inevitability in the way that Baumgardner (11-1, 7 KO) reflects on her rise to the top. There’s no giddiness in her voice, no sense of being overwhelmed, and nothing close to a feeling of imposter syndrome following her recent achievement.
Obliterating Terri Harper in the fourth round of their Nov. 13 contest was all in her personal script. But gaining the platform to perform it seemed her biggest challenge.
“I’ve needed so much patience throughout my boxing journey,” she continued candidly. “Everyone wants to become a world champion, but I knew I would get my shot eventually if I kept grinding and working hard. The option of Terri as well as the WBC title came up and I wasn’t going to turn it down.
“Sure, we only had a month notice but that wasn’t going to stop me. I wasn’t especially worried about fighting in the UK, but I knew I would need to dominate her and look for the KO, something I have always been confident about in the ring.
“I think Terri and Eddie [Hearn] underestimated me coming into the fight. They must have seen something on my resume that made them think I was a good match. Plus the confidence in fighting on home soil.”
“The Bomb’s” win over the Briton was the seventh stoppage win of her short career and by far the most comprehensive. Harper was left asleep on her feet by a monster right hand underlined the power she carries in the super-featherweight division.
“I’ve had that strength and power since I was a young girl,” she explained.
“I’ve always been a natural athlete and tried every sport when I was a kid – my strength was first evident when I wrestled and I’ve managed to transform that into boxing.”
Baumgardner assures me she had no boxing idols when she was growing up in Michigan, just a dream to better her life and to live with freedom. She had a supportive network of family around her to watch her back and was encouraged by a boxing-mad bloodline. There was no ‘plan B’ – all her eggs were placed in boxing’s unforgiving basket.
So what do the next pages of Alycia Baumgardner’s story have in store?
“I don’t believe Terri [Harper] will want the rematch,” she admits. “But she’s a fighter and fighters don’t quit, they get up when they fall. But I don’t think it would be wise for her. There is no other outcome as the same one the other week.”
Baumgardner’s focus seems solely on the other champions at 130 lbs: Hyun Mi Choi and Mikaela Mayer.
The 27-year-old is no rookie to the boxing business. She understands that Mayer (16-0, 5KO) is the “money fight” of the division, and believes that a unification against Choi is a preferred first port of call.
“I believe Choi is a great option for me first as she has a title, then we can move onto the fight that everyone wants to see against Mayer.
“Everything makes Mikaela Mayer beatable. Her resume is poor, her style of fighting reminds me of amateur boxing and I see so many flaws in her style of fighting. A lot of people don’t know but I have wanted her since the amateur days. I have always thought, ‘Why does everyone think this girl is any good?’
“In my eyes, she’s never been that good. She has a jab, my jab is better. She has combinations, my combinations are better. Everything she does I can do better. That’s just how I see it.
“I could have rushed into the fight with Mayer when I had my bum knee and still won, but we waited, and now we can let it grow again. I’ll give her her biggest payday in the sport and she knows that.”
A planned meeting in the amateurs was scuppered before the 2016 Olympics when Mayer moved up a weight class and out of reach of Baumgardner. Mayer has been on Baumgardner’s radar ever since, so letting the fight grow for another few months is of no concern.
“It would be a dream for an undisputed fight to take place in Detroit, but to be honest, I’ll fight anywhere. Las Vegas, California, or New York City, I don’t mind.”
But for now, Baumgardner will rest, reluctantly, until the start of 2022.
“I don’t like to stay inactive for too long. I am a natural athlete and need to stay sharp,” she concludes. I will prove to people that my win over Harper was no fluke. Alycia is here and she’s here to stay.
“I’m the top dog at 130.”