Tag Archives: Alycia Baumgardner

About last night … women boxing

 

WBA champion Erika Cruz and  WBC, WBA, IBF, champion Amanda Serrano fighting for the undisputed feather (126) title in MSG’s Hulu Theater on February 4, 2023. Photo credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom

MSG’s Little Theater — these days under the moniker of the Hulu Theater is a fun venue for boxing. Back when the Daily News Golden Gloves was a New York fixture every April, the stands would erupt with cheers as this or that young man or woman entered the ring in blue or gold.

The nice thing is there really is no bad seat, whether for an amateur or professional night of boxing, even way up in the back in the “300” sections, one can see, and it’s often where the true partisan cheers and flag waving abounds.

Last night was no exception. The Puerto Rican flags were in abundance waiting for Puerto Rico’s own (by way of Bushwick, Brooklyn), Amanda Serrano, and her main event fight. An undisputed contest for the feather (126 lbs.) championship.

The Amanda Serrano/Erika Cruz fight was at the top of a nine-fight card — made all the more special by the fact that it contained two undisputed women’s bouts and three undercard female “baby-belt” bouts.

France’s Elhem Mekhaled in the fight of her life against Detroit’s own Alycia Baumgardner who prevailed through ten grueling rounds to become undisputed champion at junior lightweight (130) on Feburary 4, 2023 at MSG’s Hulu Theater. Photo credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom

The co-main event featured Alycia Baumgardner contesting for her chance at an undisputed championship against Elhem Mekhaled, who was previously unknown to most fight fans in the United States.

Baumgardner who had defeated Mikaela Mayer on the all-female card in October at London’s O2 arena, came not only to fight and win, but to prove that her family’s deep legacy in the sport of boxing culminates in her as an exemplar of excellence and her and her family’s dreams.

Sitting with Marian “Lady Tyger” Trimiar and boxing writer Chris Benedict, MSG Hulu Theater, February 4, 2023.

Sitting for a time with boxing legend, Marian “Lady Tyger” Trimiar brought home just how far the sport has come. Lady Tyger began boxing as a teenager and first applied for a license in 1974 back when even amateur fighting was denied to women. She was finally able to become a licensed professional in New York State three years later. Boxing in earnest for no money to speak of ($1,500 was a lot) and in places like California which had a modest if growing boxing scene for women in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Trimiar went so far as to stage a hunger strike in 1987 to help garner support for women in the sport.

Still, she never imagined it would come this far, and watching so many fights at such a high standard of excellence brought solace of a sort, knowing that her battles on and off the canvas were important to the growth and acceptance of women inside the squared circle.

Certainly the sold-out theater — which is truly Amanda Serrano’s house, having fought there since her own beginnings in the Golden Gloves — gave truth to not only Serrano’s acceptance, but the notion that the fans came to watch excellent boxing … period.

For Serrano who made the point that she may be in a group of undisputed women champions, but she remains the only champion in seven weight classes; winning was the chance for her to revel in her achievement at the pinnacle of the sport.

Her next step was announced as she stood beaming in the camera’s eye — a second battle with Katie Taylor set for May 20, 2023 in Dublin, Ireland. She went on to say, “Katie Taylor is a true champion. She came over here. She deserves to have [the rematch] in Ireland.”

Befitting of a true champion — Serrano fighting Taylor will mean yet another first for both women, the chance for one undisputed champion to fight another in one or another’s weight class.

Thinking about Lady Tyger as representative of a lot of women who contested in the sport for the love of it, seeing Serrano and Taylor in the ring, the fans, cheering and waving, brought a deep sense of joy to my own heart. And as we exited, the latin beat pulsating, I felt exalted knowing that something really good had happened

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The results:

Amanda Serrano (USA) defeated Erika Cruz (Mexico) by UD, 97-93, 98-92 x 2. Serrano became the undisputed feather (126 lbs.) champion retaining her IBF, IBO, WBC, & WBO titles, and winning the WBA title from Cruz. Some pundits scored the fight more evenly giving a round or two more to Cruz who having sustained a deep cut from a head butt in the third round and was wobbled badly in the 6th round, put on a display nothing short of heroic.

Alycia Baumgardner (USA) defeated Elhem Mekhaled (France) by UD, 99-89, 99-89, 98-90. Baumgarder retained her IBF, IBO, WBC, & WB0 titles and won the vacant WBA title to become undisputed champion as junior lightweight (130 lbs.)  Mekhaled went down twice in the third round but never quit till the last bell tolled. Baumgarder tired in the latter half of the fight in spurts, which may have meant the scoring should have been a bit more balanced.

Shadasia Green (USA) defeated Elin Cederroos (Sweden) by TKO at 1:08 of the 6th Round in their WBA super middle title eliminator. Green also retained her WBC Silver belt at super middle.

Ramla Ali (UK) defeated Avril Mathis (Australia) by UD, 99-91 x 3 (some thought this was overly generous). Ali became the IBF Inter-Continental Super Bantam title holder.

Skye Nicolson (Australia) defeated Tania Alvarez (Spain) by UD, 98-92, 97-93, 100-90. Nicolson became the WBC Silver Feather champion.

On Women’s Boxing-what an October!

I had the honor of introducing the 16 inductees to the International Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022. Held at the Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on October 22nd, the 9th class of inductees celebrated women’s boxing’s past and present in high style.

The brainchild of founder Sue TL Fox, herself an American pioneer from the 1970s when the denizens of women’s boxing went to court to win the right to box professionally, her insistence that women give themselves the accolades they deserve reverberates through the community.

Yes, we love that since 2020, women have been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York. And that in Hall of Fames across the United States and beyond, women are taking their place for the brilliance of their achievements.

There is something; however, to that wonderful notion put forth by Virginia Wolfe, of having a room of one’s own. And whether actual or metaphorical, the sisterhood of brilliant athletes swapping stories is irreplaceable. This year’s class included Tori Nelson and Suzi Kentikian, boxers you may well have heard of, but it also contained Cora Webber who not only boxed in the 1970s, but in the 1990s to great effect. And men too, including Irish promoter Jimmy Finn, who along with 2014 Inductee Barbara Buttrick promoted the actual first all-female card in the UK in 1994; and Tom Gerbasi, who has led the way as a boxing journalist giving space to the stories of women in the ring since the late 1990s.

This year’s event was also held amid women’s boxing’s dazzling October.

The all-female Shields-Marshall card at London’s O2 Arena on October 15th was held in front of a sold-out crowd of 20,000 cheering fans, not to mention the 2,000,000 eyes that caught the broadcast of the card on Sky and ESPN+. The card delivered not only in terms of the number of fans tuning in, but the brilliance of the performances from one end of the card to the other. The Shields-Marshall fight itself, produced a fight of the year contender to rival the Taylor-Serrano bout on April 30th whose main-event battle was held in front of a similarly sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden.

What was notable, is that while Taylor-Serrano had 1.5 million views on DAZN, a full .5 million more viewed Shields-Marshall—to my mind, showing the strength of the Taylor-Serrano card to the women’s boxing “brand.” Afterall, it is highly unlikely that Bob Arum and Top Rank would have pushed to have their fighter Mikaela Mayer contest for the unified Super Featherweight title against Alycia Baumgardner, without the precedent of a sold-out Madison Square Garden.

Nor does it stop there.

Katie Taylor after her win over Karen Elizabeth Carabajal. Photo by James Chance/Getty Images

Consider Katie Taylor’s seemingly effortless retention of her undisputed lightweight crown and undefeated record against the mandatory Argentinian contender Karen Carabajal. Taylor led the card at the Wembley Arena—the very place where she had her pro debut. At that event, a mere six years ago, she walked out to nearly empty stands. At her homecoming of sorts, the cheering crowds floated her to the ring on a wave of love and admiration.

The two female fights on the undercard were also great action bouts showing off the prowess of Ellie Scotney as she pressured Mary Romero to a loss. And then there was the impressive professional debut of Maisey Rose Courtney, frankly one of the best I’ve seen, female or male. But think about that for a minute. She had her debut at Wembley Arena on a Katie Taylor card positioned as the swing bout leading into the main event.

Thinking about it more, Maisey’s entire boxing career has been informed by Katie Taylor.

Taylor’s amateur prowess and trailblazing amateur career provided Maisey with a goal to strive for. While her pro debut was on the undercard of a major fight by an undisputed champion in one of boxing’s more venerable arenas in the United Kingdom. This is Maisey’s world with the likes of Adam Smith stating Sky Sports commitment to putting on good cards as demonstrating “a move towards total parity and total equality in pay.”

The latter in particular remains to be seen. The boxing efforts on Saturday, October 29th across the globe; however, gave truth to the idea that parity and equity are long overdue. Consider Arley Muciño who wrested the IBF World Fly title from the Argentinian champion, Leonela Yudica, in a non-stop action fight at San Diego, CA’s Pechanga Arena and shown on DAZN. It should be noted it was Yudica’s 10th defense of the belt since she first captured it in 2014—a momentous upset by Muciño who had at one time held the WBO World Fly title. Announcing for the Golden Boy Promotions card was none other than current unified champion WBA and WBC World Fly champion Marlen Esparza, who immediately called out Muciño for a unification battle.

Let us also not forget that Yamileth Mercado successfully defended her WBC World Super Bantamweight title against the venerable Mariana “La Barbie” Juarez in her fourth defense of her title, her loss to Amanda Serrano in 2021, notwithstanding.

Those showings, the Taylor card bouts, and the women boxing at venues large and small establishes the sport has the potential for an even more magnificent future.

Let us all hope that actually comes to pass.