The Queen Layla McCarter Seeks Her Throne
By Felipe Leon
If you’ve followed female boxing for the last 20 years then you know who Layla “Amazing” McCarter is. No introduction needed.
She is considered by many the current best pound for pound female fighter despite of the existence of Cecilia Braekhus, the undefeated unified welterweight champion. The recently turned 38-year-old McCarter holds a record of 38-13-5, 9KOs, but has not lost since 2007.
McCarter (38-13-5, 9 Kos) meets Hungary’s Szilvia Szabados (16-9, 7 Kos) on Saturday April 29, at Sam’s Town Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Fox Sports 2 will televise the female welterweight clash.
Like many female boxers in the last two decades, McCarter has taken fights on short notice and in weight classes higher than hers on small cards in the hometowns of her opponent just to keep calling herself a fighter and thus her loss column in the double digits.
“Pound for pound is very subjective,” she stated to the 2-Min Round, the all-female boxing podcast on the Leave It in the Ring Network. “A lot of people put a lot of stock in the wrong ratings. I think you can’t be the pound for pound greatest if you haven’t proven yourself out of your comfort zone, stepped out of your home to fight the best. For the last two years I have been rated #1 at welterweight consistently and Braekhus has chosen to fight the #3, the #2, sometimes lower on the scale. I get it, she makes the same money whether she fights me or somebody else, and she has the TV in Europe so I understand her decision. Who wants to get beat and embarrassed? At some point you have to step up and prove if you think you are the best that you are. She hasn’t made it to that point yet and I have consistently done that in my career and proven it. I don’t know if she will ever fight me but I will continue to stay #1 at welterweight as long as I can and hope to fight that match with Showtime. They have expressed interest in televising that match on television this year so hopefully that happens.”
Recently, McCarter, 38, announced her signing to Mayweather Promotions and with that as she heads into the twilight of her illustrious career, she expects big fights with bigger purses. Her next fight will be featured on Fox Sports 1 along with Carlos Zambrano vs Claudio Marrero for the interim WBA featherweight title fight from the Sam’s Town Casino Resort in her adoptive hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada.
“A lot of people see signing with a promoter is like winning the lottery, but in my career I have done everything with Luis Tapia, “McCarter mentions her long-time trainer and manager. “He made my career; we did everything on our own all of these years, the hard way. To sign with a promoter makes sense at this point. I hope we can do great things together. I am waiting to see where we go from here. I know I am willing to do my part and I know they are putting in some effort. Good things can come from this partnership. I am really hopeful for that. The main thing is staying busy, I wanted to stay active. I consider this the last couple few years of my career and so I figured I could get some activity and stay busy especially here in my hometown of Las Vegas that would be the best. I am hoping they can get me the bigger money fights with the TV and that is the real factor there. To get those kind of opportunities. They offered me three fights a year, two fights if I am holding a title. That is good enough. At this stage is what I can expect but I am hoping for the big money fights this year and the following year. The Cecilia Braekhus or Erica Farias or any of the champions who want to fight. Looking forward to all that.”
Her first fight under the Mayweather Promotions banner is this Saturday. But although McCarter is happy to be inside a ring again, the choice of opponent leaves much to be desired by her.
Problems with NSAC
“We went through a lot of confusion with the opponent. The fight is set for the 29th of this month and we had some difficulty getting somebody the commission would approve. Searching far and wide we tried with Mary McGee but for some reason they turned her down, she is 23-3, rated #5, I don’t understand why he (Bob Bennett, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission) would turn that down. Mary McGee is a good fighter, she is from Ohio, tough girl, never been stopped and her only losses where to champions in their own countries or towns. She lost to Farias in Argentina, Holly Holm in Albuquerque, so I don’t understand that decision. We kept submitting other opponents and the only one we ended up with, big surprise, is Melissa Hernandez again.”
McCarter is a veteran who has fought nearly everybody in and around her weight division in her twenty years as a pro. Some of the more prominent names she has faced are Laura Serrano, Elena Reid, Alicia Ashley, Ada Velez, Kelsey Jeffries, Chevelle Hallback, Jelena Mrdjenovich, Belinda Laracuente and Cindy Serrano among others. After nearly 60 professional fights, the ones that stick out on her mind is the three against the current WBC and WBA featherweight champion Jelena Mrdjenovich.
“The trilogy with Jelena Mrdjenovich has to be the ones that really stick in my mind because it was such a dramatic trilogy,” she explained. “I beat her when she was undefeated in Edmonton, Canada, came back some months later determined to knock her out and instead I ended up breaking my forearm on her head. I lost the decision. We were one and one and it took me three years to get that final match and I was able to pull that victory defending my WBA lightweight title. That was probably one of my sweetest victories of my career, definitely one of the sweetest.”
BKB, television and Olympians
During her career, McCarter has stepped away from traditional boxing a few times, competing in kickboxing and in the defunct Big Knockout Boxing (BKB) series where she fought and defeated the respected Diana Prazak. “She was the WBC super featherweight champion and we fought in the pit as they call it for the first and only female title fight. That was a great experience and great exposure in my career. We fought on PPV and it was a neat format. It was one of my best performances. I did what Layla McCarter is supposed to do. I displayed some boxing and everything we have been training to do all these years and I feel that we expressed in the pit. It felt good.”
The recent upswing in female boxing since last year has not escaped McCarter’s watchful eye but she is still a bit skeptical of the future since she has seen it all in the sport.
“I am sitting back to see what happens. I see some signs of positive things happening in women’s boxing but it has come to full fruition yet so I would like to see what happens this year,” McCarter stated tactfully. “When the pay gets better, the TV exposure gets better, and then I will believe. Right now I am watching and there are a lot of positive signs. I am hopeful for this year; it might be the year of women’s boxing again.”
Layla is willing to put her part to make the best fights possible so that women’s boxing can get to a level it has never been before and to achieve it the best fights have to happen. “I fight anybody and everybody and I have already fought everybody but any of the top champions that want to come to fight I am happy to fight. If Braekhus wants to keep avoiding me, we can definitely fight Farias at 140 if she is interested, I don’t know who else is in or around my weight but bring them all, bring them on.”
Obviously McCarter is well aware of the new crop of fighters coming up. She has strong opinions about two of the current biggest up and coming fighters in the world.
“I am not super impressed, she is a good fighter, a great amateur fighter but she is just that, an amateur turning pro,” she said regarding two-time Olympian gold medalist and current NABF middleweight champion Claressa Shields. “I don’t care how many amateur fights you have, I still think there is a big difference in being the best of the amateurs and being the best of the professionals. She can take her time and become a great fighter but I think Katie Taylor is way ahead of her. I think Katie Taylor is the better fighter overall, she has over 250 amateur fights. I know Claressa has a bit of experience too but I think she trips on her ego sometimes. You can’t put the cart before the horse. You have to do the work and stay humble. All that bravado gets in her way I think but that is part of growing up. We were all young at one point and then we grow up.”
To listen to the whole interview in its entirety, please visit BlogTalkRadio.com/leaveitinthering