It feels churlish to even specify “women’s boxing” these days when talking about the female half of the sport. Such is the excitement and drawing power of the women’s divisions, their place as the equal of their male counterparts is more than secure. Names like Katie Taylor, Amanda Serrano, Claressa Shields and Savannah Marshall are among the very biggest in the sport. But there is another boxer who is mentioned less than that quartet, yet is synonymous with the sport’s biggest occasions: Alycia Baumgardner.
The historic all-female O2 Arena card? Baumgardner was there. This weekend’s big Madison Square Garden Theater showcase, headlined by Amanda Serrano? Baumgardner will be there. Whenever women’s boxing enjoys a big occasion, ‘The Bomb’ is right at the heart of proceedings. Her participation is no coincidence either. Baumgardner deserves her place among the elite.
The Fremont, Ohio native first came to international attention in 2021. Baumgardner was brought to Sheffield as the challenger for unbeaten WBC super featherweight champion Terri Harper. Having been beaten by Christina Linardatou previously, few expected the American to put a dent in ‘Belter’. But Baumgardner did more than that, shocking the world with a brutal fourth-round TKO of the Yorkshire boxer.
From there, the magnificent American has made the UK a bit of a home away from home. Signing with Matchroom, Baumgardner has been one of the crown jewels in the company’s women’s boxing drive. She followed the stunning Harper result with a unanimous nod over Edith Soledad Matthysse in Manchester. That victory earned Baumgardner a place on the greatest stage on which her skills have been displayed to date.
A unification fight with WBO, IBF and The Ring super featherweight champion Mikaela Mayer was the biggest fight of Baumgardner’s journey so far. The fight was positioned as the co-main event of the huge 02 Arena show that also gave us Claressa Shields’ thrilling win over Savannah Marshall. The first all-women’s arena boxing card in history would play host to Alycia’s career highlight.
The split decision in Baumgardner’s favour has been hotly-debated. It was a nip and tuck affair that Baumgardner bookended with her best work, while Mayer enjoyed the bulk of the success in the middle rounds. It was a war of attrition and a finely contested one at that. The sort of fight that lends itself to a rematch. Unfortunately at this stage, it’s a rematch that Baumgardner insists the fight will not have. We’ll see. Money talks and there is serious bank to be made from putting these two in a ring again.
For now though, ‘The Bomb’ is focused on making history. The WBA have put their vacant super featherweight championship on the line this weekend for Baumgardner’s bout with Elhem Mekhaled. This means the winner will walk out as the undisputed champion of the division. Former European champion Mekhaled is a solid fighter, but the pick here is for Baumgardner to continue her meteoric rise.
If Baumgardner wins, one thing won’t change. The 28-year-old will remain a central part of women’s boxing and a fixture in the biggest fights. Whether she continues to ply her trade on UK shores or uses this NYC sojourn to take her talents further afield, Baumgardner is likely to play a major part in elite level boxing over the course of 2023 and beyond.
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