Unbeaten Former Olympian Lightweight Mikaela Mayer is a Boxer to Be Reckoned with in the Future
By: Ken Hissner
When I watched unbeaten 2016 Lightweight Olympian Mikaela Mayer in her most recent bout against Edna Kiss, 14-7(8), I knew she was a prospect to keep an eye on when she scored a stoppage at the end of the third round. I noticed Philadelphia’s Al Mitchel in her corner. I later found out that Kay Karoma was the co-trainer along with Mitchel and George Ruiz of Santa Monica, CA, her manager with all three since 2017. Ruiz is the CEO at Intelligent Arts & Artists.
This writer has written articles on women boxers and without a doubt super lightweight Lucia “The Dutch Destroyer” Rijker, 17-0 (14), of Amsterdam, Netherlands was the best I have ever seen. Super Middleweight Ann “Brown Sugar” Wolfe, 24-1 (16), of Waco, Texas, was another top female boxer.
Photo Credit: Mikaela Mayer Twitter Account
In viewing Mayer, now 7-0 (4), she had what seemed like such a long reach and a jab to stop you in your tracks. Earlier in her career she defeated tough and durable Nydia “Dha Phenomenal” Feliciano, then 9-8, out of the Bronx, NY, by a majority decision over 4 rounds at Madison Square Garden, in New York, in Mayer’s third fight. Two judges had it 40-36 and the other 38-38. “Mikaela is a rare combination of talent, determination and marketability. She’s going to be a household name soon,” said Ruiz.
Mayer started boxing at the age of 17 in kick boxing. Northern Michigan University coach Al Mitchel has worked with her for the past 10 years. Born in Woodland Hills, CA, Mayer lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where her co-trainer Kay Karoma. He works with boxers at the Olympic gym in Colorado Springs. The first six of Mayer’s fights have been at 131 ¼ or 131 ½. In her last bout she came in at 129½ against Kiss. She may stay at Super Featherweight having just turned 28 in July and is 5:09.
“I think it’s going to be a great fight and she is getting better and better with each fight. She has the height and can go up from super featherweight. We have a good team with coach Kay and the cut man is coach Manny Robles along with George Ruiz the manager,” said Mitchel.
Mayer will be on the undercard this Saturday on the WBO World Welterweight title defense of champion Terence “Bud” Crawford, 33-0 (24) against Jose Benavidez, Jr., 27-0 (18), at the CHI Health Center, Omaha, Nebraska, over ESPN.
In 2016 she represented the USA Olympic team at lightweight in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She defeated Jennifer Chieng representing the (FSM) Federated States of Micronesia by a score of 3-0. In the second round she lost to eventual Bronze Medalist Anastasia Beliakova, of Russia by a score of 2-0.
KEN HISSNER: Mikaela, did you start boxing or kick boxing when you started at age 17?
MIKAELA MAYER: I first walked into a Muay Thai kickboxing gym when I was 17.
KEN HISSNER: Who was your boxing trainer at the beginning?
MIKAELA MAYER: I competed in Muay Thai the first year and competed in ten smoker shows. After a year my trainer suggested I took some boxing fights to develop my hands. I never went back. My first trainer was Ricardo O’Kane who ran Mejero Gym in Canoga Park, CA. He was a Muay Thai cash so when I became serious about boxing I started looking in the other direction to better my skills. That’s when I ended up taking the boxing scholarship to NMU and meeting Al Mitchel.
KEN HISSNER: What was your record as an amateur?
MIKAELA MAYER: I couldn’t tell you my amateur record but I had about 135 fights.
KEN HISSNER: In order to make the Olympic team who did you fight in the Olympic Trials?
MIKAELA MAYER: Making the Olympic team at 132 in the US was a definite challenge because it has always been a very competitive weight. In the 2016 Olympic Trials I had 5 fights and had to fight against girls such as Amateur World Champion Tiara Brown and Youth World Champion and Youth Olympic Gold Medalist, Jajaira Gonzalez. It was a hell of a tournament and one of my greatest accomplishments. However winning the US Trials wasn’t the last step qualification for the games. I had to qualify internationally as well because only 12 countries per weight can qualify for boxing. I had 2 chances…I either had to win Gold at the 2016 Continental Games or place Top 4 in the World Championships. The Continental Games came first and I and I ended up beating Canada, Puerto Rico and then Mexico in the finals to secure my spot at the Rio Games. It’s funny because I didn’t grow up around boxing and I’m the first one in my family to pursue and show interest in it. Also when I started….this career was non-existent. Women were not allowed to compete in the Olympics yet and promoters didn’t sign women. There wasn’t really a boxer to emulate or a path to follow….what I wanted to do was different and hadn’t been done. But I have always been a fan of Lucia Rijker (who is an amazing human being as well as a fighter) and “Sugar” Ray Leonard.
KEN HISSNER: How did you get involved with Coach Al and Coach Kay?
MIKAELA MAYER: At 19 I had come off a few losses and unhappy with my training. My first trainer was a great guy but just didn’t have all the boxing experience to take me any further, and he knew it too. My dad had seen an ad on the USA Boxing website about a boxing scholarship to NMU where I could go to college and train with a 2x Olympic coach (Al Mitchell). I was still down from my losses so I just told my dad to go ahead and look into it. Two weeks later I was on a plane from L.A. to the frozen tundra of Marquette, Michigan. I had no idea what I was getting into. I showed up in a pink velour juicy suit and Ugg boots, haha. I froze my ass off for 4 years.
The funding for school was cut after just one year but I knew coach Al was going take me where I wanted to go. We just fell short of making the 2012 Olympic team but I continued to fly up and train with him in camps and eventually moved up there and got a place to train full time for 2016 trials. Coach Kay was the assistant coach for the 2016 games and resident coach at the Olympic training center when I turned pro, it all started to unfold so fast and within one month I was having to move out of the training center and get ready to have my first fight in 4 weeks. Kay knew me as a fighter so I asked him if he would help get me ready until coach Al would fly in. Coach Kay and Coach Al work great together. Coach Kay gets me ready for the first 3-4 weeks and then Coach Al flies in for the last 2 weeks to strategize and break down the game plan for our opponent.
I don’t know much about my opponent other than her fighting style. Coach Al is very big on studying tape. He watches my opponent about 150 times (no joke) and we’ll watch her together about 4-5 times. Despite their experience….we always look at what they do best and strategize for that specific strength. That’s how I learn and continue to grow….we don’t look past anyone.
KEN HISSNER: I see the promoter is Top Rank. Are you signed with them?
MIKAELA MAYER: Yes, in August of 2017 I signed a multi-year contract with Top Rank Promotions as their only female fighter. This was such an honor and so huge for women’s boxing. I had a job to represent more than myself in this new journey but it was the challenge I was looking for after the Olympics.
KEN HISSNER: What’s the reason why you still do you’re camps?
MIKAELA MAYER: One of the reasons I continue to do my camps here in Colorado Springs because there is never a lack of sparring partners. USA Boxing still graciously allows me to join their camps and use their facility which has been such a huge help. You also have Triple Threat out here where (Terence) Crawford does his camps as well as a few others so there is always a fighting environment. I truly feel it’s the best place to train. Great facility, trainers, a great team environment, and not to mention the altitude which is a huge advantage that most of my opponents aren’t getting.
KEN HISSNER: I want to wish you nothing but the best in the future in boxing and in life thanking you for taking the time to answer these questions. I also want to thank your manager George Ruiz for helping us get together.
Carlos Balderas: King, Me
Carlos Balderas: King, Me
By: Francisco Martinez
2016 U.S. Olympian Carlos Balderas is set to debut April 9th in Los Angeles, California a few hours away from his hometown of Santa Maria who he has become a poster boy for. On this April 9th which lands on a Sunday not by accident but by design a masterplan crafted by boxing guru, promoter Richard Schaefer as he plans to showcase his young, new talent as he kickstarts his RingStar Sports entity that will feature 3 Olympians in Carlos Balderas, bronze medalist Misael Rodriguez, Lindolfo Delgado along Freddie Roach pupil, Lithuanian, Eimantas Stanionis with the card being headlined by fan favorite, The Riverside Rocky, Josesito Lopez.
BoxingInsider.com had the opportunity to catch up with Carlos Balderas at the famed Wild Card boxing club in Hollywood. Being from Santa Maria which is close to Los Angeles in Southern California Balderas supporters should make the trip which makes his debut that much more significant knowing he will have an all eyes on me type of platform to showcase his skills in front of his friends and family “I’m excited and I’m looking forward to it. The reason I wanted to fight out here is because I wanna grow a bigger fan base here and I don’t feel like New York is really my market, you know. I wouldn’t mind fighting out there later on in the future but as of right now I want to grow a big, big fan base out here in L.A.”
Carlos explains as in a prior interview he said he chose to pass up on a fight date for his pro debut on the Keith Thurman vs Danny Garcia card in New York at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. His uncle and long time trainer David who trains Carlos alongside his father Xenon added this to the conversation “step by step, you know, he’s gonna start with L.A. first cause like he said, Santa Maria is his hometown and now he’s trying to make L.A. his hometown then little by little Chicago, Texas…” all states with a rich boxing history and big Mexican fan base from which Carlos would greatly benefit from.
Father Xenon says L.A. was the starting point for Carlos at a young age of 7yrs old “I’m very proud of him. I’m very happy for what he is doing and I am pretty sure he’s gonna be a world champion, I promise you he’s gonna be a world champion” the Balderas family migrated from Mexico to the United States in what Carlos grandfather calls a “poor” early start in Santa Maria. As family the Balderas are as strong as a family can be and carry a support system that has manage to help guide Carlos to this point of his young and ambitious career as sacrifices after sacrifices is what kept them pushing through when times got really hard and difficult for them.
Carlos Balderas grandfather recalls when he pawned his watch at one point in time to help fuel the amateur part of his career and flash forward a few years later and Carlos did not forget and kept in mind as a young man exactly what his grandfather and family were doing to help keep his dreams as a young fighter alive. Carlos did not forget his grandfather’s unselfish act of loyalty and in return gifted the elder Balderas with his very own exclusive 2016 Olympic watch “well my family has always sacrificed for me, you know, my grandpa had once sold his watch so that I can go to a boxing tournament and I had always told myself that I was gonna pay him back and the day my Olympic watch arrived I just gave it to my grandpa to show him that I appreciated what he had done for me”
Something that didn’t surprise Carlos father, Xenon “those sacrifices, we went through a lot and when I see those things I know he’s grateful, I know he’s grateful and he’s thankful to the family” uncle David was also humbled by this act of maturity beyond his 20 years of age Carlos “you know what, Carlos being the grandson he feels like he needs to work for us, he feels like he has to work for his grandpa even though we tell him many times, all the time, you know what, relax this is your show you don’t have to work for us. You don’t have to carry us on your shoulders, you don’t have to do that but he’s like, no, no, no but one day I would like to pay my dad, my uncle, my grandpa for all the sacrifices. My grandpa sold his watch for me to go to the Olympics and all these types of things you know he remembers them”
Through these sacrifices Carlos Balderas has matured quickly and it has also humbled him. This April 9th at the Novo in downtown Los Angeles his journey as a professional boxer begins. His father Xenon promises Carlos will be a world champion and his uncle David expects for Carlos to shine on this Sunday and display his skills in front of a hometown crowd. Big expectations and ambitions from the Balderas family and what they have overcome to this point as they guided Carlos Balderas to this elusive April 9th debut has already been a victory as a team. Don’t miss it live April 9th at the Novo in Downtown Los Angeles for a actioned packed card that’s sure to entertain.
Follow all coverage leading up to the fight via #RingStarSports
Errol Spence Jr. – The Six Million Viewer Man
Errol Spence Jr. – The Six Million Viewer Man
By: Sean Crose
Not only did undefeated welterweight Errol Spence Jr impress in Sunday’s televised battle against Leonard Bundu, he gave boxing a much needed bolt of adrenaline. For this weekend’s bout, which was aired live from Coney Island in Brooklyn, brought in an estimated six million NBC viewers. Needless to say, that’s a whole lot of eyeballs tuning into a boxing match. Sure enough, the Premiere Boxing Champions broadcast broke PBC records and proved that, when situated properly, the sweet science can bring in an impressive viewership – even late on a Sunday afternoon in the doldrums of August.
Photo Credit: Premier Boxing Champions
If this is all very good news for boxing – and it is – it’s exceptional news for PBC powerhouse Al Haymon, who arranged to have a star up and comer in Spence Jr appear right after an Olympic broadcast. That sort of lead in can prove to be invaluable, as it may have proved to be on Sunday. Maybe even more telling, however, is word that roughly three quarters of Olympic television viewers stuck around to see Spence take Bundu out in ruthless fashion in the sixth round. Had Spence bored his audience, well, that audience clearly would have changed the channel.
Something here obviously worked. The question now is whether or not it can work again. The truth is that it certainly can, but strategic thinking will have to be in place. Those of a certain age will remember first learning of fighters like Marvin Hagler and Mike Tyson by watching weekend afternoon television. They may not have turned on the t.v. looking for those fights, but once they saw them, those viewers stopped changing the channel. Having good fights/fighters on an afternoon broadcast can be a terrific thing. All of the elements, however, have to come together.
And the entertaining Spence Jr coming on after the US Olympic basketball team got its gold medals proved to be dynamite. Indeed, it may well be Spence who is happiest of all in all of this. For while he’s still considered an up and comer, the talented Texan has arguably now been seen by more people than peers Keith Thurman, Kell Brook and Danny Garcia. That’s saying something. It also means that it will be harder for the division’s top players to simply write the former Olympian off. Whether the biggest names like it or not, Spence has arrived – and it appears he doesn’t aim on going anywhere.
Except, of course, up.