Fresh Faces: Alycia Baumgardner
By Felipe Leon
The story of how 23-year-old Alycia Baumgardner (5-0, 4KO) got into boxing is not all that different except for one exception: half African-American and a quarter Korean and a quarter Japanese, the aggressive-in-the-ring Baumgardner of Freemont, Ohio, was raised by a Mexican stepfather who introduced her and four siblings, including her twin, to the sweet science. An older sister and a brother continued with the sport but only she continued as a pro.
“My family is a boxing family itself. After wrestling my dad had asked me if I wanted to continue something else so a boxing gym was my next step,” she said in an exclusive interview via telephone from Florida. “My father, grandfather, cousin, uncle boxed. I am the one that continued on so I am happy that I could be the one that can keep on boxing for the family.”
Despite a family history in boxing, her first love was wrestling which she began at the age of five and continued through elementary school and middle school. When it was time to move on, the boxing ring was an easy transition.
“The competition, I have always been a competitive athlete. Just being in a male dominated sport, I knew I could be just like them or better and compete.”
Baumgardner took to the sport like a fish in the water, winning a series of national tournaments in over 160 amateur fights and making it to the U.S. Olympic Trials for the 2012 London Olympics.
“I didn’t make it. My goal was to make it to the Olympics but it didn’t happen,” she said of that run. “I still wanted to push myself. I have been in this sport for a long time so I had the experience so that wasn’t going to stop me from being a future world champ.”
She then decided not to try for the Rio Olympics in 2016 and after careful deliberation; she went pro in early 2017.
“I looked at my options, I was maybe going to go back and try out for the Olympics but I really sat down and took my time,” she explained of her decision. “I weighed my pros and cons and it was way more beneficial for me to go pro just because of my style. I served my time in the amateurs.”
“I felt like I got great experience, I had over 100 fights. I won some national tournaments. I wanted people to see on a bigger platform and going pro was going to make that happen,” she continued. “Now that I am pro I am happy that I made the transition. At this level you are training harder, this is everything that I wanted. The passion is there; the drive is there. I love it. It has been the best decision I have made in my career.”
The Pro Game
Now fighting at super featherweight, the transition so far in the paid for punches game has been smooth but like many others, she felt liberated without the headgear and with the smaller gloves.
“I felt it was going to be different. When I had my pro debut, it was a reality,” she said of her first round knockout of Britain Hart in March of last year. “I was in the ring with no headgear and the smaller gloves. I was able to see everything. With the smaller gloves my punches just came off so much faster and effectively. I love it. You are able to see what punches are coming and you are able to hurt somebody with the smaller gloves and I like that.”
After scoring first round knockouts in her first four fights, Baumgardner took a decisive step up in her last fight in February of this year when she faced the much more experienced Nydia Feliciano for the vacant WBC International super featherweight title. Baumgardner dominated the eight round fight with scores of 80-72 and 79-73 two times.
“I knew it was going to be my first eight rounder and I knew it was with a well experienced fighter,” she said of Feliciano. “Mentally I had the same as far as going in and doing what I do but being smarter knowing that she wasn’t like these other fighters previously that I fought. Going in, I was well prepared.”
“I was ready to have that experience and I was happy I was able to get that this early in my career because I am able to look back and reflect, work on my mistakes and come back even better,” Baumgardner said. “That fight was perfect, I was ready for that. My first four fights, I wanted something with more experience because I am a competitive fighter and I wanted somebody to come at me. She was the perfect fighter for that. I think I handled the situation pretty well for my fifth fight and dominated each round.”
Before the fight Baumgardner signed with Real Deal Promotions, Evander Holyfield’s outfit.
“My manager was able to make a few phone calls and get in touch and was able to make that happen, to be the first woman signed. I knew it was going to be great opportunity. They are an up coming new promotional company. I think it was a really great move. I know other promoters are signing women, right now is the time for it.”
Baumgardner is known for her aggressiveness and she continually moves forward looking to score the more punishing punches, a style she picked up from her favorite fighters.
“Personally I feel like I have my own style. Growing up I liked watching Mike Tyson, I think, his persona, who he is, when he comes out to the ring, he is there to do one thing and that is to finish you and I like that,” she said with a smile. “Ann Wolfe, she reminds me of myself, just very aggressive and her build is like mine. Evander Holyfield, obviously, his story of how he became world champion was awesome and how he defeated Mike Tyson with all odds against him is very inspiring.”
Despite at only five professional fights Baumgardner is very confident and states the plan is to be a contender from 126 to 147 pounds while for the moment concentrating on the super featherweight division. She expects a world title shot by mid summer if not by the end of the year and has her sights set on the biggest names near her division including a shocking one.
“There is quite a few actually. I definitely would like to say I would like to fight Amanda Serrano, Mikaela Mayer and eventually Katie Taylor,” she said. “I’ve seen her (Serrano) fight and I just know I can beat her. I think it would be a great competitive fight for everybody to see. I don’t think she has fought anybody competitive that I have seen. I feel like as an athlete I like to challenge myself so I think that would be a perfect fight. I think that would be a great fight for everybody to see and I want to fight the best. She is a five time division champ and I think that would be great for me.”
To listen to the whole inedited interview, please visit BlogTalkRadio.com/2MinRound