Alycia Baumgardner doesn’t mince her words. The 28-year-old is one fight away from becoming the undisputed queen of the super featherweight (130 lbs) division, taking on France’s Elhem Mekhaled this Saturday live on DAZN, and she is out to prove, once again, that her bite is as loud as her bark.
“You might see a smile on a pretty girl, but don’t get it twisted, I got the dog in me and the same hunger I had when I was eight,” said Baumgardner this week. “And you cannot take anything away from me. I hustled to get here.”
Baumgardner (13-1, 7 KO) has collected the IBF, WBC, and WBO straps over three big wins since breaking out at the back end of 2021, and the vacant WBA title gives her the opportunity to clean out the 130 lbs division inside Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. Baumgardner vs Mekhaled acts as chief support to another undisputed fight at featherweight between Amanda Serrano and Erika Cruz.
“Undisputed is one of those things that’s easy to say but hard to achieve,” Baumgardner continued. “With hard work and dedication, you can do it, but it’s tough. You are facing the best of the best back-to-back, and that’s the journey that I am on. I am making my mark, leaving my footprint on the sport.
“I don’t care how [Mekhaled] got the opportunity, but she’s in with a dog and I hope she knows that. I am ready to knock this girl out. I’m going to really hurt her. I have a lot of pent-up aggression and she’s going to know what it’s like to fight the best. It’s not personal, it’s my mentality and she will feel the power in both hands, and she’ll think, ‘Damn, I am in with a beast.’ If you fight me, you think you can beat me and are better than me. You don’t know me.
“Elhem is hungry. She’s wanted the world title fight for a long time, and that’s great. I know my assignment, though, and I will put her down. Nothing changes that it’s her, it’s a challenge, she wants it, I want it.
“We only have two minutes, don’t give anything away and make a statement every round. I believe Elhem will come forward and I will be the sharper fighter and showing my experience, setting her up. She’s wild, her defense is a bit sloppy, so she’s going to take a punch, but can she take my punch? I don’t know, I have a different type of power, but we’ll see. It’s a KO, for sure, I can feel it. I visualize a lot and I am in the ring, I KO her, and my hand is raised, and I’ve got all the belts.”
Baumgardner is making her first appearance in the ring since a disputed decision victory over Mikaela Mayer last October. The two shared a hostile run-up to their unified title clash and things seemingly haven’t simmered down since the result.
“It was awesome,” said Baumgardner. “A great build-up, I loved the animosity we had, I was fighting someone that I had been watching for a long time in the amateurs, and now as a pro I was in a unification with her. I know I won that fight, you don’t like it? Argue with the judges, they got it right.
“She is delusional and so salty. When you have everything and you are the star, and you lose it all in one night, and lose it to little ol’ AB, it hurts, stings. I just believe she got beat by one of the best fighters in the world.
“I’m the best in the world. No one stops me but me. I took an early loss, brushed it off, learned from it and grew. I went to England as an underdog against [Terri] Harper and Mayer and proved everyone wrong. I am here for a reason, I speak truth to power, and I know I will go down as one of the greatest female fighters of all time.
“The belts are cool but why am I really here? It’s because I like to fight. I like the battle. I like it when someone thinks that they can beat me. You can hit harder than me? OK take this. You hit me with a shot? Cool — boom, boom, here’s my shots. I like that. I love to prove to myself that ‘you can do anything AB, no-one can beat you but you’.
“I have a loss, too. Who cares? I picked myself up, moved forward and now look. I became world champion and beat ‘the best’ in Mayer and made it easy work. If we run it back again, I would really dog her, know that now. Now I know I have you, next time, your career might be finished, because you keep playing with me, and I don’t like that.”
Lewis Watson is a sports writer from London, UK, and a member of the BWAA. Follow or contact him on Twitter @lewroyscribbles