Mikaela Mayer is pound-for-pound one of the top fighters in women’s boxing today, without question, but you might not know that she’s also probably one of the sport’s best interviews pound-for-pound, too.
Mayer spoke with the DAZN Boxing Show in her usual honest, considered style this week, giving her thoughts on Sept. 10 opponent Alycia Baumgardner, Jessica McCaskill (or in her words, “McNoskill”), her dream to fight Katie Taylor, and the Claressa Shields vs Savannah Marshall matchup.
On Jessica McCaskill saying she’s “unimpressed” with Mayer
“I did see some clip of her on another show saying that I haven’t fought anybody and then followed up with a question asking if my belts were vacant. So she’s talking shit about something she doesn’t really even know anything about. I’ve taken my belts from long-reigning champions. She’s got a lot to say for someone who’s had, what, 10 fights in 10 years? McNoskill.”
On the fight with Alycia Baumgardner
“That’s one of the things I love about this era of women’s boxing, we’re changing the narrative and we’re getting the fights made. It’s because women don’t yet have the luxury of sitting back and riding on one big win. We are constantly having to hustle. My life didn’t change after winning my first world title. Any male that wins a world title, their life is immediately changed overnight. That hasn’t happened to me.
“Fortunately for Baumgardner, us women have built the game so much that she was able to come out of nowhere, beat a champion, and then come into the biggest payday of her life. She’s in this position because of the people who have done the groundwork — me, Claressa Shields, Katie Taylor. She hasn’t done any of that. This girl is getting the biggest payday of her life after doing nothing for the sport.”
On why Baumgardner changed her mind and took the fight
“Money. Money talks. And big props to Top Rank, they stepped up. They’ve put four or five years into me now, and I’ve passed every test they have put in front of me. They owed me this fight and it came together, and they made it happen. They offered her money she couldn’t refuse.
“Did Eddie (Hearn) and Matchroom try to get it on DAZN? Of course they did! Top Rank said, ‘Hell no.’ They said, ‘We’ve put five years into Mikaela, you just got Alycia two fights ago, there’s absolutely no way we’re giving you this fight.’ Where are they going to argue? (Top Rank) coughed up the money and made it happen for me.”
On being the co-main to Shields vs Marshall
“I had the choice to be the co-main event for Claressa vs Marshall. If I didn’t want to do this, we wouldn’t have done it, we would have had our own main event. Yes, me vs Baumgardner is definitely main event-worthy, but I was excited when they brought it up to me as a possibility. I thought it was an amazing card for women’s boxing and for the fans, a one-stop shop for two world championship fights, and that doesn’t happen.
“That’s what I’m about. I’m about setting a new standard in boxing, giving the fans fights they want and fights they deserve. This excited me, I was like, ‘Yes, hell yeah, let’s make it happen.’”
On whether she saw Marshall’s amateur win over Shields
“I was there. This was so long ago and I can very vividly remember this. It was the 2012 World Championships — God, I was 22, (Claressa) was 17. No one knew Claressa. Franchon Crews was the No. 1 girl in the U.S. in that division, and when they announced they were going to allow women into the Olympics, Franchon Crews was the girl who was supposed to go. And Claressa Shields comes out of nowhere, really young, and just sort of runs through everyone.
“When we went to the World Championships that year, it was no different, nobody knew who she was. She was going up against girls who were women, much older than her, much more experienced than her. I think she was still learning how to adapt to styles and I think that if it was a more than four-round fight, Claressa Shields would have been able to adjust and overcome, but it was a quick four-round fight, and Savannah just boxed and moved. I just remember her boxing and moving in circles, and Claressa wasn’t able to close that space fast enough.”
“In other fights, Claressa is overwhelming her opponents with punching speed, I think that’s one of her greatest qualities, especially at a higher weight division where the girls aren’t as fast and the punch count isn’t as high. But Claressa has come a long, long, long, long way since those amateur days. She knows how to adapt now, she has all the experience she needs. She’s faced multiple boxers and all kinds of styles. I don’t think you can go off of that fight from so long ago.”
On Marshall constantly referencing the win over Shields
“Of course she’s going to (say that), because she did it. And that’s probably one of her biggest accomplishments to date, saying she beat Claressa Shields, no one’s ever beaten her (otherwise). I think anybody would be bragging about that at this point. So of course she’s going to use that, especially going into this fight and building the hype.
“But a lot changes. That was literally 10 years ago. Any smart fighter, any smart coach, and smart camp and team knows that so much happens (in 10 years), and you cannot solely ride off that one win. And I think she knows what she’s going up against. She’s seen what Claressa Shields has accomplished since then.”
On her Shields vs Marshall prediction
“I think that Claressa Shields is going to overwhelm her with punches and combinations. I do think Savannah’s a good boxer and I think she’s proven herself to be a strong puncher, she has. But I still think there’s some weaknesses there when it comes to speed and her hands being super low, and I just think that she’s never really fought somebody with the pedigree that Claressa has at this level. I do see Claressa Shields coming out on top.”
On where she’ll be on the P4P if she beats Baumgardner
“When I beat Baumgardner, I definitely think I deserve a jump in the pound-for-pound list. It doesn’t make me undisputed, but I think it moves me past (Amanda) Serrano. I think it puts me at least one spot higher at No. 3. Then when I go and beat Choi — if I can get that fight in a timely manner, otherwise fuck it, but if I can get that fight, then I think that bumps me up to No. 1. 130 is a very, very stacked division.”
On what she thinks of Baumgardner as a fighter
“I think that she has some skill, obviously. She does have some skill and she has proven to have power. I just don’t think she’s as well-rounded as I am. I think she needs to fight in her comfort zone, keeping her opponents at bay and trying to land that perfect right, but what happens when she can’t land that perfect right hand?
“I’m not a sucker. I’m not Terri Harper. I’m not gonna lean in there with my jab and get caught by a right hand by her. She has to time that perfectly to land it, and if she wants to underestimate my power, then that’s not gonna be good for her. I’m not a one-punch knockout artist, but I break my opponents down over time; I do, and they feel it.
“If she can’t land that right hand the first two or three rounds, she’s done for. I know she can’t keep up with my pace, I know she doesn’t have the conditioning or the grit or the skills to sit on the inside with me. I’m taking it to her.”
“I’m gonna out-box the mess out of this girl. If she wants to keep me on the outside and box me, I can box better. And then when she starts to get frustrated, I’m gonna take it to her and she’s not gonna know how to handle it. How do I know that? She’s never had to learn how to handle it.
“The one time she’s been tested and taken out of her comfort zone and taken to deep waters was against (Christina) Linardatou, and she looked like a fucking bum. I mean, she looked like an amateur.”
On whether all this trash talk takes away from what it means to beat Baumgardner
“No, you’re right. Coach Al always says, ‘Always talk up your opponents,’ but listen, I don’t have to talk her up because she talks up herself. She thinks she’s God’s gift to this Earth, she thinks she’s super-slick, super-sweet, whatever, and I think a lot of people think she’s going to knock me out. From what I’ve seen, people are thinking maybe this is the girl that’s gonna stop me, but that’s not the case.”
“What do you think I read going into the fight with (Maiva) Hamadouche? It was the same type of thing. Everyone thought this girl was gonna run through me, knock me out, stop me, I was going to get demolished. I don’t care what anyone says about me. These people are not in camp with me, they’re not doing these runs with me, they’re not in my hard sparring sessions, they’re not there doing the work. I know the work we put in, and I trust in my camp and I trust in my team.
“But she’s a good fighter, and she did what she had to do beating Terri Harper. Now she’s in the spotlight. Now she’s getting her shine, but it’s gonna end quick.”
(Editor’s Note: Mayer was a -400 favorite against Hamadouche. At DraftKings Sportsbook, Mayer is currently a -285 favorite against Baumgardner.)
On wanting Katie Taylor or Amanda Serrano
“I do not want any small fights. After I beat Baumgardner, I’m gonna give Choi three months to fight — not three months to accept the fight, three months to fight me. I’m talking you fight me in December, January, or I’m done, I’m vacating these belts and I’m moving up to 135.
“I have always dreamed of having a fight with Katie Taylor, I think I can beat her. I’ve always thought I was the one to beat her. I want to go up to 135 and challenge myself against Katie Taylor.
“Once I do that, I’m moving up to 140, because that’s where I belong. I belong at 140. I know you have Chantelle Cameron right now, Kali Reis, and they’re both great fighters. I know Chantelle from the amateurs, and Kali, I’m a fan of hers, I think they’re great. But I plan on going up and beating them, then going up and taking out McNoskill, then retiring.”
On McCaskill chasing a Taylor rematch
“Nobody wants to see Katie vs McCaskill again! We already saw it! You had your chances, let it go!”
On the Taylor vs Serrano decision
“I’ve been waiting to say this, because I Tweeted after the fight, ‘Serrano got that.’ But I went home and I’m, like, ‘I have to watch it again.’ I was sitting sort of on the corner of the ring and I don’t think I had the best view of that fight, but I got a lot of backlash. I’m, like, ‘Let me go re-watch that fight again.’
“So I did that. It was my initial thought that Serrano won, but with the bird’s eye view of the camera, she wasn’t landing the way I thought she was landing. I thought Serrano was landing more because Katie Taylor was moving and she was up against the ropes, which is one of the reasons they tell you to keep the fight in the center of the ring; the judges can’t see you when you’re up against the ropes, all the judges can’t see you so you might get a bad score.
“That was me. That was me in a position where I saw Katie sort of backed against the ropes and I thought Serrano was landing more. But (on TV), I gave the fight to Katie.”
“It was so great. There were no losers there. It was such a great fight. I respect them both, props to them both. It was awesome.”