Mikaela Mayer survives early push from Erica Farias to retain WBO junior lightweight title

LAS VEGAS -- Mikaela Mayer stepped down from the ring, shook some hands and had a now-familiar piece of hardware around her waist -- a championship belt.

Mayer defended her WBO junior lightweight title on Saturday night, defeating Erica Farias by unanimous decision, 97-93; 98-92; 98-92. It's the first time she has walked both into-and-out-of the ring with her belt.

The win now puts the 30-year-old Los Angeles native in a collision course for a unification bout with Maiva Hamadouche, which should happen this fall. To get there, though, she had to beat Farias and it was a bit of a tricky fight early on for Mayer, who appeared to struggle early.

Mayer landed 118 of 439 punches (26.9 percent) and 37.6 percent of her power punches. Farias landed 86 of 400 punches (21.5 percent) and 28.1 percent of her power punches. Both landed 21 jabs. Mayer landed double-digit power punches in four rounds -- including the eighth, where she landed 22 power punches.

In the second round, Farias startled her early -- the only time she appeared unsteady throughout the entire fight. Farias, for a while, looked like she would potentially pull an upset as she hung with the WBO junior lightweight title holder.

Mayer (15-0, 5 KO) started to control the fight in the middle rounds and ran away from there, becoming the aggressor with a combination of body and head shots and moving Farias (26-5, 10 KO) around the ring. Farias, from Buenos Aires, again showed real promise toward the end of the fight, particularly in the ninth and 10th rounds.

Throughout her fight, Mayer showed a level of consistency, though. Rarely rattled, she appeared very business-like throughout it, often pushing the fight forward and moving Farias where she wanted to in the ring. All five of Farias' losses have now come in title fights.