MIKAELA MAYER prevailed in a tremendous battle with France’s Maiva Hamadouche at the Virgin Hotels in Las Vegas on Friday night (November 5).

Both are former Olympians. Mayer followed the traditional route, competing at Rio 2016 before becoming the leading woman of Top Rank’s promotional stable. Hamadouche was a well-established professional and an IBF belt-holder when she took advantage of the rule change that allows pros back into Olympic boxing. She qualified for the Tokyo Games but was not successful in Japan. The blueprint to beat her seemed clear – use footwork to outwit the rough, physically strong Hamadouche with movement and technical boxing, elements that Mayer has in her skillset.

But the American took a different approach. At the opening bell Mayer rushed out to meet Hamadouche head on. She landed the first punches, but having made her point she still didn’t move off. She planted herself on the inside and traded fire Hamadouche right there.

If Hamadouche was surprised at that approach she didn’t show it. She welcomed it. The Frenchwoman drove herself forward, greeting Mayer with a great volume of punches. Mayer was fighting Hamadouche at her own game and winning rounds, but it was high energy, high intensity work. Mikaela held her ground and lashed hooks into Hamadouche’s head. Maiva absorbed the punishment and continued to press forward, banging solid rights in.

Mayer did prove she was tough enough to take those punches and fire back. In brief moments, when she stepped back and let go her lead left, she showed how she could have made the fight easier on herself. But largely she neglected her jab. Where Mayer did show extra variety was attacking the body with hooks before swinging a hard, clean shot to the chin. She slammed good uppercuts through too and deservedly triumphed on a unanimous decision after a frenetic 10 two-minute rounds.

Lisa Giampa’s 100-90 card for Mayer was harsh on Hamadouche’s efforts. Boxing News had the Frenchwoman winning three rounds but had Mayer shading a lot of rounds that were close and furiously contested. The American winning a close fight widely on the scorecards is forgivable in that sense. Max DeLuca scored 99-91 for Mayer and Tim Cheatham was closer to the mark with 98-92. Mike Ortega refereed.

Mayer added Hamadouche’s super-featherweight IBF belt to the WBO strap she already held.

“I could bang it out on the inside. That wasn’t really the entire game plan,” Mayer said. “The game plan was to use my jab, but in the back of my head, I knew she was going to keep it close, keep me on the inside. Even though we trained for that, just being able to do that for 10 straight rounds taught me a lot.

“This is everything I trained for. It really hasn’t even sunk in, but I’m proud of what I did. I’m proud of my team. We’re going to celebrate this one, for sure.”

Promoter Bob Arum said, “This was a sensational fight, one of the best fights of the year, male or female. These two ladies are a credit to the sport, and they left it all in the ring. It was a close fight, but I felt Mikaela did more than enough to have her hand raised.”

There are appealing opponents for Mayer from the UK, including WBC super-featherweight belt-holder Terri Harper. “I really wanted to show everyone in the division and the naysayers that I didn’t have the power and the grit to stay in there for 10 rounds with Hamadouche. That I am the best in the division,” Mikaela said. “I want the big fights. I’m definitely a threat.”