NEW YORK – Alycia Baumgardner left no doubt whatsoever about the outcome of this 130-pound title fight.
Baumgardner dropped Elhem Mekhaled twice during the fourth round, hurt her badly during the seventh round and won their 10-round title unification bout by unanimous decision at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater. The 28-year-old Baumgardner became women’s boxing’s fully unified junior lightweight champion by defeating France’s Mekhaled, whose toughness made what was a one-sided fight on the scorecards entertaining.
Judges Robin Taylor (99-89), Eric Marlinski (99-89) and Ron Paolillo (98-90) all scored the bout for Baumgardner by big margins.
Baumgardner (14-1, 7 KOs), of Bingham Farms, Michigan, retained her IBF, IBO, WBC and WBO 130-pound championships and won the WBA belt that was vacant before she defeated Mekhaled. In her previous appearance, Baumgardner edged rival Mikaela Mayer (17-1, 5 KOs) by split decision in their 10-round championship unification fight October 15 at O2 Arena in London.
Mayer, who watched Baumgardner beat Mekhaled from a ringside seat, wants a rematch as soon as possible.
Paris’ Mekhaled (15-2, 3 KOs) has lost back-to-back bouts. Belgium’s Delfine Persoon (47-3, 19 KOs, 1 NC) beat her unanimous decision in the 10-round bout before she boxed Baumgardner.
While way down on the cards, Mekhaled never stopped trying to win in the later rounds.
Mekhaled caught Baumgardner with a right hand that made Baumgardner reset her feet less than 40 seconds into the 10th round.
After taking a lot of punishment in the first eight rounds, Mekhaled had a strong showing in the ninth round, when she was the busier, more accurate fighter. She out-landed Baumgardner in that round, but she didn’t have the power to affect the champion.
Mekhaled landed a right to Baumgardner’s head that made Baumgardner go after her body with just under 30 seconds remaining in the eighth round. Baumgardner bullied Mekhaled into Baumgardner’s corner with those body blows.
Baumgardner battered Mekhaled all around the ring in the opening minute of the seventh round. A vicious, crisp combination by Baumgardner knocked Mekhaled into the ropes less than 30 seconds into the seventh round.
Mekhaled weathered that trouble, though, and made it to the eighth round.
Baumgardner rocked Mekhaled with a left hook that connected with just over 1:05 to go in the fifth round.
Baumgardner blasted Mekhaled with a right hand with just under 1:15 on the clock in the fourth round, but Mekhaled took that shot well.
Baumgardner dropped Mekhaled twice during the third round.
She wobbled the challenger with a right hand and then landed another right as she was falling to the canvas with just under 1:40 to go in the third round. Mekhaled answered Dali’s count and tried to fight out of the trouble, but Baumgardner landed several power punches and she went down again, this time with 1:11 on the clock in the third round.
Makhaled connected with a right hand with just over 20 seconds remaining in the second round. Baumgardner landed three right hands and moved out of Makhaled’s punching range each time with just over a minute to go in the second round.
Mekhaled landed a right hand with just over 10 seconds to go in the first round. Baumgardner switched between orthodox and southpaw stances throughout the first round, yet she didn’t land many punches.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.