By: Kirk Jackson
Mikaela Mayer (17-0, 5 KO’s) grew up in Southern California, leaving the golden state and embarking on a journey as a young challenger in pursuit of Olympic aspirations as an amateur, and seeking world champion ambitions as a professional boxer.
The path was a little rocky and there were detours along the way, but the prodigal daughter returned to Southern California this past weekend, glory in hand. After an Olympic berth, nearly five years ago, and currently reigning as an unbeaten pro, coveting two world titles, Mayer was able to bask in the glory of her triumphant, championship homecoming.
Mayer defeated former IBF featherweight world champion Jennifer Han (18-5-1, 1 KO) by unanimous decision to retain her WBO, IBF and The Ring junior lightweight world titles Saturday evening at The Hangar in Costa Mesa, California.
For more on Mayer’s journey, also check out: Undeterred: Mikaela Mayer and Her Mission Towards the Top – RELOADED – The Scope Network
It was the third title defense for Mayer, and her first as a unified world champion. She did everything but force the stoppage, out landing Han 192 punches (Mayer) to 63 punches (Han) according to CompuBox.
Mayer busted open Han’s nose with a right hand early in the fight and utilized a stiff jab to keep Han on the defensive for most of the night. While Han slipped a few shots in as Mayer walked into some punches early, Han’s attack did not have much of an effect on Mayer.
Aside from her technical proficiency, mounting a successful attack lead by her hard jab, Mayer imposed her size and more than likely felt comfortable pressing forward, due to the durability of her chin and ability to walk through Han’s punches.
It was a gutsy performance from Han and as a spectator, it was clear Han was slowly but surely breaking down. If there were additional rounds to the bout, or if the rounds were three minutes as opposed to two minutes, there may have been a stoppage.
“I wanted to get the stoppage I feel like I hurt her in the eighth round, almost finished her. This is another reason why I’m advocating for three-minute rounds,” said Mayer post-fight.
Han landed occasional counters against the ropes and there were opportunities for Han to catch Mayer with counter right crosses and overhands coming in due to positioning and her opponent’s willingness to mix-it up, but Mayer was never threatened.
Mayer said, “I feel like I did a lot of good things in there. Her movement, I think, is what she does best and it throws you off. She gets her spacing in a little bit, so I had to throw her off and stay behind the jab. Coach Al Mitchell reminded me to stay behind the jab, set the right hand up. She would duck sometimes and make me miss. I started to go to the body. All in all, she’s a tough, durable girl. That’s why we chose her for this fight. We knew she would push me, but I feel like I did well.”
Next up for Han:
Former champion at featherweight, challenged the undisputed champion at lightweight Katie Taylor prior to facing Mayer, Han suffered defeats against two of boxing’s best fighters. There is no shame, the risks she takes during her professional campaign.
Han has options of competing at lightweight or junior lightweight and should be competitive against whoever she steps in the ring against.
Next up for Mayer:
The victory over Han catapults Mayer to No. 5 on ESPN.com’s pound-for-pound rankings. The proverbial ball is in her court, as Mayer may press for various options moving forward.
“I’ve been pretty clear that I want to go undisputed at 130. Alycia Baumgardner (11-1, 7 KO’s) and Hyun Mi Choi (18-0-1, 4 KO’s), I’ve been calling them out. I want either fight, but if they’re not going to give me that fight in a timely fashion, I’m game to go up and challenge the winner of Amanda Serrano (42-1-1, 30 KO’s) versus Katie Taylor (20-0, 6 KO’s).”
Potential unification in bouts against Baumgardner and Choi at junior lightweight, or the challenge of dethroning the “Queen” at lightweight once the dust settles between Taylor and Serrano. Boxing fans will have plenty to salivate over, in which ever path Mayer chooses to take.