Top Rank Signs US Olympian Mikaela Mayer; Is Shannon O’Connell Next?
By David A. Avila
Female prizefighting returns to one of the top boxing promotion companies in the world after a lengthy darkness.
Mikaela Mayer the 2016 US Olympian will be making her pro debut on Aug. 5, at Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles said Top Rank officials. It marks the return of female boxing on a televised Top Rank card after an eight year absence. ESPN will televise.
“I don’t know anything about her but apparently our guys think she’s terrific and we’re going to use her as soon as we can,” said Top Rank’s Bob Arum. “We did sign her to a contract and then we’re going to start doing some female boxing.”
No female has appeared on a televised Top Rank card since May 2009 when Melissa Hernandez fought Jeri Sitzes on a Showtime card.
Mayer, 27, is a tall leggy blonde with superior speed and athleticism who lives in Southern California and fought in the lightweight division as an amateur. She is expected to fight in the same division as a professional. She is currently training in Colorado Springs.
Top Rank’s ace matchmaker Bruce Trampler saw star potential in Mayer who performed admirably in the Rio Olympics though she did not win a medal. Many felt she deserved to at least move into the medal bracket but was tripped by shifty judging.
“I see somebody who is very good in and out of the ring. Very charismatic and a good personality and she can fight,” said Trampler. “She’s not a finished product but she’s got a chance to be and that’s all you can ask.”
Top Rank also plans to promote Australia’s Shannon O’Connell a super bantamweight from the Brisbane vicinity. She’s a former titleholder and has shown to be fearless. O’Connell, who goes by the nickname “Shotgun,” recently fought Argentina’s legendary Marcela Acuna and lost a spirited battle in Argentina this past June.
“She’s an Australian girl, she is terrific and she is a beautiful girl and a terrific fighter,” said Arum, adding that Top Rank plans to televise the female fights. “We’re definitely going to show women’s fights.”
Arum said Top Rank is changing its stance mainly because the market for female prizefighting has opened up.
“There had not been a market as I saw it for women’s boxing. Women didn’t want to see it. Men considered it a joke,” said Arum while at the press conference for the upcoming Top Rank fight card on Aug. 5. “Now with Ronda Rousey and the UFC it looks like its becoming a market and around the world they have this Katie Taylor and they have some good fighters. There’s this Claressa Shields too so people are talking about it. If there’s a market we want to satisfy the market.”
Mayer will be fighting at Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 5. No opponent has been named. The main event on the Top Rank boxing card will be WBO super featherweight titlist Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Miguel Marriaga. On the semi-main event will be Raymundo Beltran versus Bryan Vasquez.
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