By Emmanuel Twum-Asante
Mikaela Mayer made a successful debut at 135 pounds by defeating Swedish contender Lucy Wildheart via unanimous decision on Saturday night to win the vacant interim WBC lightweight title at Copper Box Arena in London.
The 32-year-old was originally scheduled to face Christina Linardatou, but the former two-time junior welterweight champion was forced to withdraw after not meeting British Boxing Board of Control requirements.
Wildheart, with only 24 hours’ notice, stepped up to the challenge.
Mayer dictated the pace by mixing sharp jabs to the head and body before unleashing short hooks on the inside. Wildheart, who is over three inches shorter than Mayer, had some success with her overhand right.
By round three, Mayer’s left eye showed signs of swelling. In the fourth and fifth rounds, Mayer stood her ground more and started to exchange on the inside, beginning her combinations with hooks to the body instead of a jab.
According to CompuBox, Mayer set new career highs in terms of body punches, as she landed 18 in the fifth round and 166 throughout the fight.
Mayer captured the WBC interim lightweight title by scores of 100-90, 98-91 and 98-92, and she expressed her desire to become undisputed at her new weight class.
Mayer said, “She stepped in at the last minute, so that was really gutsy of her. It’s definitely a big fight for her to just jump in at 24 hours’ notice. But she was tough and durable. I see why she had the confidence to do that, so props to her.
“I like to fight on the inside, so once I knew that she couldn’t outbox me, I decided to take it to her a little bit and try to break her down to the body.
“I do believe that Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano are supposed to go for their rematch, so assuming that still happens, I will challenge the winner of that. So, it’s definitely really exciting for me.
This is where I belong. I belong in big fights. I belong in world title fights. I’m in my prime. I feel great, and I want the toughest challenges possible, and right now at 135, that’s Katie Taylor.”