Olympian Mayer sets pro debut on ESPN card


Lightweight Mikaela Mayer, a 2016 U.S. Olympian, has signed a promotional agreement and will turn pro with Top Rank, the company announced Friday.

Mayer’s pro debut, a scheduled four-rounder at a contract weight of 132 pounds, will take place on Aug. 5 on the undercard of the ESPN card headlined by Vasyl Lomachenko’s junior lightweight world title defense against Miguel Marriaga at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, which is Mayer’s hometown.

“Mikaela’s talent and personality translates to unique marketability,” Top Rank president Todd duBoef said. “Not only are we confident she will succeed as a professional fighter, but she will elevate the women’s boxing category. Fighting at an elite level as an amateur has prepared her for transitioning to the professional ranks.”

As an amateur, Mayer, 27, won the 2016 USA Boxing Elite Nationals, the America Olympic Qualifiers and the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. She also won U.S. national championships in 2015, 2014 and 2012.

At the Rio de Janeiro Games, she advanced to the women’s lightweight quarterfinals before being ousted by majority decision against Russia’s Anastasiia Beliakova.

“As much as I loved competing for Team USA, I am incredibly excited for this next step in my career,” said Mayer, who is 5-foot-9. “When I sat down with Top Rank, they were the first promotion company that truly made me feel like they shared my vision for how I could help grow the sport. Having the best promoter in the world supporting and believing in not just me but in women’s boxing is the fulfillment of a dream that began when I first put on boxing gloves. I am thrilled about our new partnership and the possibilities of what we can accomplish on this journey together.”

Mayer, who began boxing at age 17, said she is focused now on making a smooth switch from amateur boxing to professional boxing.

“I can’t wait for my debut and look forward to the challenges of this transition,” she said. “I’ve been very focused on the differences between fighting pro versus amateur, and I’m eager to get in there, test myself on this new stage and showcase my skills. I haven’t fought much in the United States in the last three years, let alone in my hometown. In fact, I don’t think I have competed in L.A. since my first handful of fights back in ’08. It’s going to feel great to be back in my hometown, where family and friends can watch me fight in person.”

Mayer is managed by George Ruiz and co-trained by Al Mitchell and Kay Karoma. Mitchell, the head coach of the 1996 U.S. Olympic team, is vastly experienced in training men but had never coached a female boxer until he began working with Mayer.

“I had never trained a female boxer before I decided to train Mikaela, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my coaching career,” Mitchell said. “Mikaela came to me pretty green, and I immediately saw her determination, dedication and attitude that doesn’t come along all that often in a young person. She had a goal in mind, a sense for how to manage her time, and dedicated herself to the plans she made to achieve those goals.

“She was always working hard and listening to how she could make herself a better athlete and a champion boxer. I truly believe that Mikaela is ready to become a professional boxer. She is greatly respected in her sport, not only in the U.S but by boxers, coaches, fans and the press as well. I believe that she can help grow the sport of women’s boxing tremendously because of her popularity in the sport and her superior talent.”

Ruiz met her after the 2012 Olympic trials and was immediately impressed.

“I knew she was a star within five minutes of meeting her,” he said. “She promised me then she’d get to the top of her sport. We’ve worked closely all throughout her brilliant amateur career and the Rio Olympics, so when Mikaela decided to turn pro, I knew signing with Top Rank was the best way to showcase her skills and elevate the sport of women’s boxing. She’s a dazzling technical boxer, works harder than anyone I know and is going to be a world champion.”


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