Alycia Baumgardner has grown accustomed to the underdog role.
The explosive boxer-puncher was a longshot to dethrone then-unbeaten WBC junior lightweight titlist Terri Harper, doing just that with a sensational fourth round knockout last November 13 on the road in Sheffield, England. The oddsmakers once again heavily favor a Baumgardner opponent, as IBF/WBO/Ring champ Mikaela Mayer steadily remains a -280 favorite to prevail in their multi-belt unification bout this Saturday at The O2 in London.
“No matter how much I achieve, I still feel like the underdog,” Baumgardner told BoxingScene.com. “That’s fine, because I’m even hungrier. I still have so much more to prove. I’m here to stay and keep proving who I am, as an athlete, as a woman and just being in the sport.”
Baumgardner (12-1, 7KOs) has won her last six starts, none more significant than her aforementioned victory over Harper who has since captured a title at junior middleweight.
The road win came under extreme circumstances, as the 28-year-old from the greater Detrt area already endured the loss of her trainer Ali Salaam as well as the passing of her grandmother heading into her first title fight last fall. Her perseverance paid off, parlaying the win into a lucrative multi-fight co-promotional deal with Matchroom Boxing.
It also marked her first of what is now three straight fights to take place in the United Kingdom. The highly anticipated showdown with Mayer (17-0, 5KOs) is the by far the biggest of the lot, with the two set to carry out their grudge match more than a month after their originally scheduled September 10 date. The show as a whole was canceled due to the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, which prompted a period of national mourning.
Five weeks later, Baumgardner is hungrier than ever to add more belts to her collection and prove the oddsmakers wrong in the process.
“I still feel like a lot of people think my win over Terri Harper was luck,” stated Baumgardner. It wasn’t; it was hard work and I had to overcome a lot just to get there. Even my grandma passing, those moments had to happen.
“Through the obstacles and setbacks, it was just preparing me for this moment.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox