Alycia Baumgardner was saying for months she would dominate Mikaela Mayer. While that didn't happen, Baumgardner did do enough on Saturday in London to become the unified junior lightweight champion.
In a fight that could have gone either way after months of trash talking between the two, Baumgardner won on two of the cards, 96-95, with Mayer taking the third card, 97-93, giving Baumgardner the WBC, IBF and WBO titles.
It started off slowly for Mayer, who had held the IBF and WBO titles, with Baumgardner (13-1, 7 KO) taking clear control in the early rounds of the fight. Mayer settled down in the fourth round and rebounded, but almost every round in the back half of the fight was incredibly close.
"I worked my ass off to get here," Baumgardner said on the broadcast following the fight.
It capped a life-changing 12 months for Baumgardner, who stepped into the high-level scene by knocking out Terri Harper on Nov. 13, 2021, to win the WBC title. It also started the back-and-forth with Mayer. After a win over Edith Soledad Matthysse in April, Baumgardner agreed to fight Mayer in May.
And on Saturday, she put herself into the conversation of the best fighters in the sport.
After the scorecards were announced, Mayer threw down her hands and walked off, clearly unhappy with the decision in a fight that was incredibly close.
The bout was the co-main event of an all-women card at O2 Arena headlined by a bout between Claressa Shields and Savannah Marshall for the undisputed middleweight championship.
Mayer (17-1, 5 KO) won the middle rounds of her fight, with each of the final rounds being difficult to score.
"I think I landed the cleaner shots," Baumgardner said. "The harder shots."
In one of the more pivotal moments of the fight, Baumgardner cut Mayer over the right eye in the seventh round after what felt like three straight rounds of Mayer being the aggressor to come back into the fight.
Baumgardner landed 116 of 335 punches (34.6 percent) with Mayer landing 104 of 361 (28.8 percent). Mayer landed a higher percentage of jabs (26.6 percent to 26 percent) while also throwing 98 more jabs than Baumgardner (229 to 131). Mayer landed 61 jabs, Baumgardner 34.
Baumgardner, a power puncher, tried more power shots -- 40.2 percent to Mayer's 32.6 percent -- landing 82 of 204 power punches. Mayer landed 43 of 132 power punches. The power punches thrown and landed were career highs for Baumgardner. Mayer's 43 power punches landed, and the eight landed in the sixth round, are the most landed against Baumgardner in her career.
After the fight, Baumgardner said she would not entertain an immediate rematch but instead will go after the undisputed title. WBA champion Hyun-Mi Choi holds the other belt in the division.
Mayer believed she won and would like to fight Baumgardner a second time -- and thinks fans want it as well.
"I'm really confident that I won that fight," Mayer said in a quote provided by Top Rank. "She was defeated. I saw it in her eyes. She was tired. She knows she lost the fight. She was shocked by the decision. She got lucky. I think the crowd believes that I won that fight.
"I took control of the fight from the second round on, for sure. At the very least, I won seven rounds clearly. I felt like I had it. I hope that she gives me a rematch. I think I deserve it, and I feel that the fans want to see it."
Mayer-Baumgardner round-by-round analysis:
On her way to becoming the undisputed champ, Claressa Shields unleashes a flurry of punches in Round 1.
Round 1: Baumgardner was a bit more aggressive this round -- a slow one for both fighters -- and landed probably the best punch of the round. Baumgardner 10-9.
Round 2: Baumgardner again landed more and better shots than Mayer, timing what Mayer is trying to do. Baumgardner 10-9, Baumgardner 20-18.
Round 3: By far Mayer's best round thus far, but Baumgardner countered well. A close round, but another round for Baumgardner. Baumgardner 10-9. Baumgardner 30-27.
Round 4: Mayer was pushing forward for really the first time in the fight and landed a couple of strong punches, enough to win the round. A late right hand sealed it for Mayer. Mayer 10-9. Baumgardner 39-38.
Round 5: Another aggressive round with more punches landed for Mikaela Mayer, who appears to have shifted what her initial strategy was. Smart round for Mayer. Mayer 10-9. Baumgardner 48-47.
Round 6: A much closer round but Mikaela Mayer was still the more aggressive fighter who had the stronger round. Mayer 10-9. 57-57.
Round 7: Alycia Baumgardner with her best round since Round 3, creating a cut over Mikaela Mayer's eye and landing way more punches this round. Baumgardner 10-9. Baumgardner 67-66.
Round 8: Another close round, but Baumgardner a bit more aggressive and had more moments of control in the round. Baumgardner 10-9. Baumgardner 77-75.
Round 9: Surprise, a close round. Mikaela Mayer worked the jab well to set up a couple of stronger punches, enough to win the round. Mayer 10-9. Baumgardner 86-85.
Round 10: Mikaela Mayer a little bit stronger again in this round, the last round. A close round in what has been a close fight, but goes to Mayer, who seemed to connect a bit more and was a bit more aggressive. Mayer 10-9. Draw 95-95.
Shields finally avenges loss to Marshall 10 years later
Claressa Shields is once again the undisputed middleweight champion of the world.
Shields defeated Savannah Marshall by unanimous decision, 96-94, 97-93, 97-93, to retain the WBC, IBF and WBA belts and win the WBO belt in a high-action, close fight.
For Shields, it avenges her only loss in a boxing ring -- a decade ago as an amateur. Shields outlasted Marshall, 174-132 and landed a higher percentage of punches, 37 to 34.
Shields-Marshall round-by-round analysis:
Round 1: Excellent round for Shields. Smart defense and aggressive offense as well. Marshall had a good end to the round but not enough. Shields 10-9.
Round 2: Marshall landed a strong right hand early in the round, seeming to stun Shields for a second. Shields handled the first few seconds well to respond and have a better overall round. Shields 10-9. Shields 20-18.
Round 3: Shields' counter punching and aggressiveness continues to show. Her game plan has been clear and solid so far. Marshall landed a few, but Shields once again wins the round -- perhaps fairly clearly here. Shields 10-9. Shields 30-27.
Round 4: Maybe the closest round so far. Marshall had some good offensive moments, but Shields' ability to handle it might have given her a close round. Shields 10-9. Shields 40-36.
Round 5: Marshall had her best 30 seconds of the fight to open the round. The body work from Shields helped her rebound a bit as did a strong hook at the end of the round, but it felt like Marshall's best round. Marshall 10-9. Shields 49-46.
Round 6: Close round, but Marshall landed perhaps the biggest punch of the round. This round could go either way. But Marshall might have edged this round here. Marshall 10-9. Shields 58-56.
Round 7: Another close round and while Marshall looked like she threw a lot, it didn't look like any of those landed clearly. Shields, meanwhile, landed some body work as she's done all fight. Shields 10-9. Shields 68-65.
Round 8: Shields was the clear aggressor in the round and landed what looked like the two best punches of the round as well. Shields 10-9. Shields 78-74.
Round 9: Marshall was more aggressive this round, and while she didn't put Shields in trouble at all, she appeared to handle the round well. Marshall 10-9. Shields 87-84.
Round 10: Marshall appeared to land a little more and be a little more aggressive in the final round. Very, very close round but have to give it to Marshall. Marshall 10-9. Shields 96-94.
Price shines, stops Belik inside four rounds
Lauren Price didn't knock Timea Belik down. But she continued to hit her with enough consistency for referee Mark Bates to stop the welterweight fight.
In what felt like an early end to the fight, Price (2-0, 1 KO) got the first win by stoppage of her career in the fourth round after a multitude of shots that kept Belik (6-7, 2 KO) moving backward.
Price and Belik traded blows throughout the second round, the most back-and-forth action of any of the televised undercard fights. Price landed a good combination to the head of Belik at the start of the third round -- Price connected often, but Belik wasn't moving all that much to be a difficult target. By the end of the round, Price had started chasing Belik around the ring, pummeling her.
Belik has lost three of her last four fights. The 28-year-old Price, the gold medalist at middleweight in the 2020 Olympic Games, continues to be one of the more promising prospects in a welterweight division that could use an infusion of talent.
Dubois stops Koleva in Round 5
The end started in the fourth round, when Caroline Dubois landed a right hook that knocked Milena Koleva to the ground.
The real end came a round later, when Dubois landed a body shot to stun Koleva again and then put her half-down, on the ropes, with Dubois landing more shots to Koleva's head as referee Sean McAvoy stepped in to stop the fight and give Dubois the win in the lightweight fight.
It was constant pressure for Dubois (4-0, 3 KO) over the last three rounds, leading to the knockout with seven seconds to go in the fifth. The 21-year-old sister of heavyweight Daniel Dubois continued her fast rise with the dominance of the 34-year-old Koleva (10-15-1, 4 KO), who hasn't won a fight since 2019 and has lost nine of her last 10.
Most of that, though, has come against high-quality competition, including Katie Taylor and Maiva Hamadouche twice.
This fight, and how she handled it, signified that Dubois, one of more intriguing young fighters in the sport, should be ready for a step up in competition in her next fight.
Artingstall dominates Sakharov, stays unbeaten
For the last four rounds, it was a barrage. If we're being honest, it was an impressive performance by Karriss Artingstall and a great effort by Marina Sakharov to stay up the entire fight.
Artingstall, featherweight prospect, was excellent overall in her second pro fight, scoring a 60-54 decision over Sakharov, who has now lost 10 fights in a row.
Artingstall (2-0) took control of the fight in the third round, landing a flurry of combinations, and from there the bout never really looked in doubt. By the end of the third, Sakharov (5-17-2, 3 KO) looked exhausted but continued to hang in throughout the six-round fight.
Sakharov has not won a fight since 2018, when she knocked out Branka Arambasic.