Does Mikaela Mayer Stand up to the First Lady?

December 29, 2023
4 months

In mid-January 2024, Mikaela Mayer will face a big test as she challenges for the IBF welterweight championship against Natasha Jonas. Entering this new division, does she have what it takes to emulate the success of, say, the First Lady of Boxing, Cecilia Brækhus?

Mayer’s Changing Goals

After losing the split decision to Alycia Baumgardner in 2022, Mikaela Mayer has been on a varied path. She’s consistently gone up in weight class from that loss at super featherweight, now challenging for the welterweight title while picking up an interim championship at lightweight in the process. This is a stark difference from the earlier phase of her career, where she chased the super featherweight undisputed moniker.

Cecilia Brækhus famously never changed weight division since her debut in 2007, right up until her last fight in 2023, where she bulked up to super middleweight. In a hypothetical fight, this would probably favor the Norwegian, given that she has spent a lot more time carrying that weight and would be able to fight with it more naturally.

Both Fighters Have Fierce Rival

There’s one thing that Mikaela Mayer and Cecilia Brækhus have in common: a fierce rival who has displaced them. Both fighters believed that they would retire undefeated, yet had their rivals quash any hopes of that.

Mayer famously entered a spat with Alycia Baumgardner as their close contest brought out a bitter side from both combatants. A re-match never materialized, and Mayer moved up divisions. Brækhus has a similar beef with Jessica McCaskill, who ended the First Lady’s dominance at welterweight and her undefeated status when she got the majority decision win in 2020. The pair fought again in 2021 where the American boxer again got the victory.

If this is the division that Mayer wants to fight in for the foreseeable future, then she would be wise to welcome the challenge of Jessica McCaskill in what would be a trending boxing news bout, whether she wins or loses against Natasha Jonas in her upcoming fight.

How the Fight Would Play Out

Mikaela Mayer is known for her efficient style of boxing. She makes very little wasted motion while in the ring. Her exceptional footwork has been praised by multiple boxing news sites for evading punches and getting her into the right position to land the next series of combination blows. She may or may not be the aggressor, but she would most certainly be trying to pick up points in every round.

In this fight, Cecilia Brækhus would be able to rely on her superior experience and fight IQ to dictate her game to best suit the fight as it happens. She has also been known to go at opponents in bursts, forcing them to defend. While Mayer has good movement to evade, it could be difficult to do so consistently against Brækhus.

While neither fighter is British, it is likely that if the two were to fight, it would happen in the United Kingdom. Why so? Well, Mikaela Mayer has been fighting exclusively in the UK since October 2022, as she’s formed good relationships with the promoters on that side of the Atlantic. Her next fight against Natasha Jonas will be her fourth straight fight on British soil as she laces up her boots in Liverpool, England.

Brækhus, for all the fights in her career, has fought just one fight in the UK. That was her last match against Terri Harper, which she drew. Given how much women’s boxing is growing in the country, it would only make sense for her to fight there again. Then again, Saudi Arabia is a growing market for boxing…

Do Both Boxers Need a Win?

Looking at both boxers’ career trajectories, it wouldn’t be out of line to suggest that both fighters now need a championship-level victory if they are going to reach new heights. Both have had stellar careers already, but to push on to the next level, they need some more Ws on the board.

Mikaela Mayer has been doing exactly that since that fateful night against Alycia Baumgardner. She has seemingly put that feud to bed with no re-match ever penciled in. Her wins while climbing up the weight classes have been impressive, but it’s now time for her to have gold around her waist again. Then, she will ascend to popularity and fame like Katie Taylor, Chantelle Cameron and Amanda Serrano. If she can’t get the win in January, then this division might not be her calling.

By the same merit, Cecilia Brækhus needs a proper win after losing both fights to Jessica McCaskill. Her draw with Terri Harper put her back in contention, but stalemates don’t win titles, and at her age, she’s not going to get any more chances gifted to her.

Could This Fight Ever Happen?

Even if Cecilia Brækhus is at the tail-end of her career, she’s still a massive name in women’s boxing. There’s no fighter out there who wouldn’t want her name on their resume. Mikaela Mayer won’t get the benefit of fighting an on-form First Lady, but the fight still makes a lot of sense. If she could defeat a woman who defined the welterweight division, holding some of her belts for more than ten years, the American will more than prove herself at welterweight.

Equally, if the Norwegian was able to get the better of Mayer (potentially reclaiming back the IBF title), she would show the world that she is far from finished. Given that Brækhus is already 42 years old, this fight would need to happen sooner rather than later.

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