Mikaela Mayer never expected to face anyone other than Maiva Hamadouche for her first title unification clash.
It wasn’t out of preference that Mayer anticipated the matchup, though the 2016 U.S. Olympian and current unbeaten WBO junior lightweight titlist didn’t really care about the order in which she faced the other divisional titleholders. Rather, it was an understanding of how the business works and then bracing for what was perceived as the toughest challenge possible that the other side could put in front of her.
“I knew it would happen first only because I think ahead of what Eddie Hearn (Hamadouche’s promoter, and head of Matchroom Boxing) has up his sleeve,” Mayer told BoxingScene.com of the forthcoming WBO/IBF unification bout. “He has all of the other champions and figures Hamadouche is probably the toughest one in the division to face me.
“I honestly have no problem with it. If I want to be undisputed, I have to fight them all anyway—might as well as take out Hamadouche first.”
With that comes the first step towards crowning an undisputed junior lightweight queen. Mayer (15-0, 5KOs)—a Los Angeles native now fighting out of Colorado Springs—puts her WBO title at stake while gunning to end Hamadouche’s near-five year IBF title reign. The bout takes place Friday evening on ESPN+ from Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. The promoters for both boxers will be ringside, Mayer guided by Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum, founder/chairman of Top Rank while Hearn made the trip stateside in support of Paris’ Hamadouche (22-1, 18KOs) along with other business to tend to while in town this weekend.
Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing also promotes WBC/IBO titlist Terri ‘Belter’ Harper (11-0-1, 6KOs) and long-reigning WBA title claimant Hyun Mi Choi (19-0-1, 5KOs). The two were on course for a title unification clash, only for Harper to suffer an injury which required surgery in canceling the previously scheduled May event.
Harper will return to the ring November 13, though not versus Choi for their own unification but in a stiff test versus Michigan-based contender Alycia Baumgardner (10-1, 6KOs) at Sheffield Arena, Harper’s hometown venue where she first claimed the WBC title nearly two years ago. Choi is coming off of a ninth-round knockout of Simone Aparecida da Silva this past September in her homeland of South Korea, with expectations of next facing Harper to unify the WBA/WBC/IBO titles.
With any luck, the fight happens sooner rather than later and with the winner eventually facing whoever prevails in this weekend’s unification bout. Conversely, Mayer will be just content to face Choi and Harper herself. Her expectations remain enduring the toughest road presented by opposing promoters.
“Eddie has all of the champions and he doesn’t want to put Terri Harper up against [Hamadouche] right away,” theorizes Mayer. “So, he can give Terri the weaker one, which is Choi. I figured that was his plan.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox