If Alycia Baumgardner beats Elhem Mekhaled on Saturday night, she’ll become women’s boxing’s fully unified 130-pound champion.
Baumgardner makes the weight limit for her division comfortably, thus she can continue defending her titles later this year if she emerges victorious versus Mekhaled at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York. The 28-year-old Baumgardner is intrigued, however, by the possibility of becoming an undisputed champion in a second division.
Ireland’s Katie Taylor and Brooklyn’s Amanda Serrano are expected to fight again, this time in Taylor’s home country, if Serrano defeats Mexico’s Erika Cruz in the main event Saturday night at Hulu Theater. Baumgardner, like Taylor, is promoted by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing and would welcome a shot at whoever wins the Taylor-Serrano rematch.
“I make the weight very easy,” Baumgardner told BoxingScene.com. “I would love to defend my titles at 130. But I would also like to move up to ’35 and just challenge the best. You know, we all want Katie Taylor. That’s the fight that I would like next. But I love to stay busy. And again, [fighting the Taylor-Serrano winner] is to make history and to continue building the sport of boxing. So, whoever that winner is, I would love to fight.”
Taylor (22-0, 6 KOs) overcame some troublesome moments to defeat Serrano (43-2-1, 30 KOs) by split decision in one of the best action fights of 2022 last April 30 at Madison Square Garden. The 36-year-old Taylor beat Serrano on two scorecards (97-93, 96-93, 94-96).
Baumgardner isn’t certain who would win assuming they fight again for Taylor’s IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO 135-pound championships.
“That’s tough,” Baumgardner said. “I think the first fight was a draw. I think the second fight will really solidify who is the better fighter. They’re both great fighters, so I can’t even pick a winner.”
After her close loss to Taylor, Serrano moved back down from the 135-pound division to the featherweight maximum of 126 pounds for each of her two subsequent bouts. The seven-division champion unanimously out-pointed previously undefeated Danish contender Sarah Mahfoud (11-1, 3 KOs) in her last fight, a 10-rounder September 24 at AO Arena in Manchester, England.
If Serrano conquers Cruz, too, she’ll become the fully unified featherweight champion. Mexico City’s Cruz (15-1, 3 KOs) holds the only women’s 126-pound championship, the WBA belt, that Serrano doesn’t own.
Baumgardner (13-1, 7 KOs), of Bingham Farms, Michigan, will defend her IBF, IBO, WBC and WBO 130-pound crowns when she faces France’s Mekhaled (15-1, 3 KOs) on the Serrano-Cruz undercard. They will also fight for the vacant WBA title.
Baumgardner added the IBF and WBO belts to her collection by edging rival Mikaela Mayer (17-1, 5 KOs) in her last fight, which she won by split decision October 15 at O2 Arena in London.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.