Mikaela Mayer Sizzles in Pro Debut in Hometown L.A.
By David A. Avila
LOS ANGELES-Mikaela Mayer blitzed to her first pro win with an emphatic knockout victory over Widnelly Figueroa in front of her native hometown on Saturday. It has been years since she fought in Los Angeles.
“I’m from here but I rarely have been home,” said Mayer, 27.
A year ago the tall and slender lightweight Mayer (1-0, 1 KO) was training for the Olympics. On Saturday, she turned in her 12-ounce gloves and head gear for lighter gloves and no head protection to make a professional debut at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles.
She won convincingly.
Figueroa had previously fought her pro debut near her home state of Wisconsin and lost by majority decision. When she entered the ring she seemed several inches shorter than the former Olympian.
The opening bell saw Mayer circle and fire a jab. It was Figueroa’s signal to begin an attack and the fight was in motion. As the shorter fighter closed the distance the long quick jab of Mayer pierced her guard. And then she suddenly dropped body shots. It didn’t take long for Mayer to find the soft spot for a left to the abdomen and down went Figueroa.
Referee Lou Moret did not bother to count and waved the fight over.
“I felt a little out of place without the head gear but I really felt kind of calm,” said Mayer after the knockout win. “I feel great. I’m ready to fight again. I’m used to fighting five times in one week.”
Mayer had fought her way to the Olympic team in 2016 after previously failing in 2012. It was a long process that she set as a goal in 2012. She could be seen throughout Southern California sparring against professionals including world champions like Lissette Medel.
Recently, the 27-year-old Mayer was one of Ronda Rousey’s sparring partners when she was preparing to face Amanda Nunes in the UFC 207 bantamweight title fight that took place last December.
Rousey and Mayer became friends and the MMA star gave her advice regarding accepting a professional boxing contract.
“Ronda said I should do it if I want to do it,” said Mayer. “Do it because it’s something you want to do.”
It was a mere month ago that Top Rank offered the Southern California native a contract to fight professionally. The Las Vegas-based boxing promotional giant had not had a female fighter on its roster since Christy Martin for a brief moment in 2005. And the last time a female bout was televised on a Top Rank card took place in 2009 when Jeri Sitzes and Melissa Hernandez fought.
“It’s definitely taking some getting used to,” said Mayer.
Mayer enters the lightweight division that does not have a lot of Americans. Most are located in Argentina or in Europe. But the sight of Mayer fighting professionally could spark major interest and perhaps take back some of the women now fighting in MMA.
“This is a new era. I think most of these big promoters are picking up females. And with Ronda Rousey and all these women in MMA showing that women can be competitive in combat sports that’s what we needed,” said Mayer.
Being an Olympian was an incredible feat but in the down years there is little recognition from fans.
“It was hard to leave that world,” said Mayer. “But I’m excited for this opportunity.
With Top Rank behind her how far can Mayer go?
(Photo by Al Applerose)