Don’t mistake the noise made in the past year as the starting point for Mikaela Mayer targeting the best in her weight division. This was a mood that she carried since her transition from the 2016 Rio Olympics to the pro ranks.
“When Mikaela first came to us at Top Rank, the first thing she told us was that she wants to fight for a world championship,” Bob Arum, Mayer’s Hall of Fame promoter told BoxingScene.com. "It took some time, but she was grounded in the professional ranks. She’s performed tremendously.
“Now, on October 31 she has the opportunity to win a world championship. We believe she has the experience now and to bring home to the United States a world title.”
Mayer will get her opportunity versus a former long-reigning titlist, as she challenges Poland’s Ewa Brodnicka (19-0, 2KOs) for a junior lightweight belt. Their clash takes place this Saturday, live on ESPN+ from The Bubble at MGM Grand in Las Vegas in supporting capacity to a terrific bantamweight matchup between unified titlist Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16KOs) and top contender Jason Moloney (21-1, 18KOs).
Brodnicka landed in the crosshairs of Mayer (13-0, 5KOs) only after it was clear that her previously desired target—unbeaten titlist Terri Harper (10-0-1, 5KOs), whom dethroned Eva Wahlstrom earlier this year—was no longer available.
“I don’t even want to say that one specific fighter was on our radar,” Mayer told BoxingScene.com. “We were going after Eva Wahlstrom, who was the WBC champ. It was about a year ago. We were in negotiations, then I woke up one morning and the fight went to Terri Harper. Terri Harper beat Eva Wahlstrom like I knew that she would because I never considered Eva all that great.
"Now, Terri Harper has the belt. So I kind of came after her for a while. I reminded her, I was the number-one contender, that was my world title. She was number 13 but she skipped the line. This is boxing, that’s how things work out.”
Rather than a title shot, Mayer—a Los Angeles native who now lives and trains in Colorado Springs—would make history. Her July 14 points win over Helen Joseph marked the first-ever female bout to serve as a main event on ESPN’s flagship network (previous occasions having aired on ESPN2).
Still, Top Rank wasn’t completely off the hook. The missed opportunity to face Wahlstrom and then Harper only meant that there was work to be done to find another crown for which to contend.
“Well you know, when Mikaela gives the order we step with intention and try to get it done,” quipped Arum. “We’re very proud of Mikaela. She’s promoted herself tremendously in and out of the ring. She’s gonna be a great world ‘champeen’ and a great credit to women’s boxing.”
Soon thereafter came the call to challenge Brodnicka, who was looking to make the sixth defense of the belt she’s held for more than three years, in addition to making her stateside debut.
But, on Friday Brodnicka failed to make weight and the title will only be at stake for Mayer. Should Brodnicka win, the belt will remain vacant.
“My radar was directed towards [Harper]. But when the WBO named me as their mandatory, I started looking Ewa Brodnicka’s way,” noted Mayer. “I was ready to fight anyone with a belt.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBoxz