When Top Rank signed Mikaela Mayer in 2017—the first female ever signed to the legendary promotional company—they did so with the hope that the California native would transform boxing as Ronda Rousey did for MMA. Mayer certainly had the credentials.
Three-time National Champion. A 2016 Olympian. The first woman sponsored by Everlast. She also had the marketing potential. Blond and ripped with fashion magazine looks, Mayer is poised to attract the younger, mainstream crowd that boxing has desperately sought.
“At this point in women’s boxing it’s not enough to just be a good fighter,” says Mayer. “If you’re going to create a market you need full package.”
On October 31, Mayer (13-0 5 KO’s) will take her biggest step yet towards that “full package” when she fights for her first world title on ESPN+. Yet the 30 year-old will not have it easy.
Her opponent Ewa Brodnicka, the reigning WBO Junior Lightweight Champion, is a perfect 19-0 (2 KO’s). Like Mayer, she’s tall, rangy and confident, assuring fans that she will once again be taking the WBO belt back to her native Poland.
Mayer, however, is no stranger to uphill battles. She’s been dealing with adversity—and doubters—her entire life. Growing up in California’s San Fernando Valley, Mayer was drinking and smoking by the age of 13, then expelled from high school.
After discovering a love for boxing, she had to convince venerable trainer Al Mitchell to take her on as a fighter— something he admittedly thought he’d never do (he now has several female fighters).
Earning the respect of fans and boxing cognoscenti hasn’t been easy either. “I’ve heard ‘She’s too pretty to fight’ for years,” says Mayer, who was named one of the ‘Hottest Athletes of the 2016 Olympics’. “I still do.”
People assume she hasn’t struggled, hasn’t put in the effort, doesn’t have the dedication. Critics claim she’s more marketing prop than the real deal.
The answer, Mayer knows, is simple. Put on a fight that fans won’t soon forget. And the challenger plans to do just that. “This fight will not go the distance,” Mayer promised in a recent interview. “Ewa Brodnicka is not on my level and her time is up.”