Alycia Baumgardner wins split decision over Mikaela Mayer, unifies super featherweight titles

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 15: Alycia Baumgardner celebrates with the IBF, IBO, WBC and WBO Super Featherweight World Title Belts after victory in the IBF, IBO, WBC and WBO Super Featherweight World Title fight between Mikaela Mayer and Alycia Baumgardner on the Shields vs Marshall Boxxer fight night which is the first women's only boxing card in the UK at The O2 Arena on October 15, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)
Alycia Baumgardner celebrates with her belts after beating Mikaela Mayer on Saturday at The O2 Arena in London. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)

The bitterness that existed between Alycia Baumgardner and Mikaela Mayer throughout the buildup to their super featherweight title fight Saturday at the O2 Arena in London led to a intense, high-contact battle.

It was a back-and-forth fight, with Baumgardner racing out to an early lead by surprisingly using lateral movement and boxing ability. Mikaela got back into the fight in the middle rounds, but Baumgardner changed the momentum down the stretch.

It was a coin toss, and the coin landed in favor of Baumgardner. She won a split decision. Judges Steve Gray and John Latham had Baumgardner, each by 96-95. Terry O’Connor had it 97-93 for Mayer. Yahoo Sports had it 96-94 for Baumgardner.

Baumgardner won the IBF and WBO belts and retained the WBC championship, raising her record to 13-1 with the win.

“I worked my ass off to get here,” Baumgardner said. “All you doubters, I told all the haters. I did that and I’m the unified champion of the world. I’m thankful and I’m blessed.”

Baumgardner entered the fight with the reputation as the harder puncher, and Mayer as the better boxer. But Baumgardner was brilliant early, moving around and taking away Mayer’s offense while landing hard shots of her own.

Mayer adjusted by getting inside and pressuring Baumgardner. She seemed to hurt Baumgardner with an overhand right to the head at the end of the fourth, and was opening up by popping Baumgardner with a job and landing that right.

But Baumgardner managed to change the distance over the final three rounds and eked out a win on a historic day for women’s boxing in which seven titles were on the line in the final two bouts on the card.

Baumgardner, though, had little doubt she’d won. And she said instead of giving Mayer a rematch, she would seek a bout with WBA champion Hyun Mi Choi in an attempt to unify the titles.

“I landed the cleaner shots and the harder shots,” Baumgardner said. “I cut her above the forehead. I was the harder puncher.”

Mayer acquitted herself well and the fight could have gone either way, but she dug herself a hole early and that proved too difficult for her to overcome.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 15: Mikaela Mayer (R) punches  Alycia Baumgardner (L) during the IBF, IBO, WBC and WBO Super Featherweight World Title fight between Mikaela Mayer and Alycia Baumgardner on the Shields vs Marshall Boxxer fight night which is the first women's only boxing card in the UK at The O2 Arena on October 15, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)
The first women's-only boxing card in the UK featured a back-and-forth battle between Alycia Baumgardner and Mikaela Mayer in the co-main event. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)