Three months after narrowly winning the biggest fight of her career, Alycia Baumgardner wants to emphatically end her bout with Elhem Mekhaled on Saturday night.
Mekhaled has never been knocked out, but Baumgardner is confident she can stop the challenger for her four championships inside the distance. The 10-round, 130-pound title bout between Baumgardner (13-1, 7 KOs), of Bingham Hills, Michigan, and Mekhaled (15-1, 3 KOs), of Paris, France, will be part of the Amanda Serrano-Erika Cruz undercard at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York (DAZN; 8 p.m. ET).
“[Winning by knockout] would send a statement,” Baumgardner told BoxingScene.com. “I got the world title by knockout [against Terri Harper] and we’re ending this fight as the undisputed queen with another knockout. I think it’s just picking up from where we first started. I would love a knockout and I think it’s coming.”
The 28-year-old Baumgardner will defend her IBF, IBO, WBC and WBO belts against Mekhaled. The unclaimed WBA super featherweight title will also be on the line in a bout Baumgardner is regularly listed as at least an 8-1 favorite to win.
Baumgardner beat bitter rival Makaela Mayer (17-1, 5 KOs) by split decision in her last appearance, a 10-round title unification fight October 15 at O2 Arena in London. Mayer wanted an immediate rematch, but Baumgardner will instead attempt to become their division’s fully unified champion.
Mekhaled has lost only a 10-round unanimous decision to Delfine Persoon (47-3, 19 KOs). Belgium’s Persoon, who gave undisputed lightweight champ Katie Taylor one of the two toughest fights of her career, defeated Mekhaled by scores of 97-93, 97-94 and 96-94 on May 21 at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi.
“That was a tough fight,” Baumgardner said. “Delfine is a really great opponent. Again, [Mekhaled is] a tough fighter, but she does get hit a lot. Just with the power and the technical side of me, she’s definitely gonna take a lot of punches.”
The 31-year-old Mekhaled mostly fought a low level of opposition before she opposed Persoon, though she did beat Brazil’s Danila Ramos (then 7-0) by unanimous decision to win the WBC interim super featherweight title in March 2019 in Barcelona.
“I just know that she’s coming to fight,” Baumgardner said. “She has a big opportunity that could change her life in one night. I know that she’s a tough opponent. I know that she’s been waiting to fight for a world title, so I expect nothing less than a fighter who wants to win. I just know I’m well prepared to beat her.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.