The same boxing weekend in Las Vegas not only produced the final leg of Canelo Alvarez’s Fighter of the Year campaign but also perhaps the best action fight in women’s boxing history.
Mikaela Mayer and Maiva Hamadouche vowed to put on a performance for the ages, going well above and beyond the call of duty in their WBO/IBF junior lightweight title unification clash. The November 5 ESPN+ headliner came on the eve of Alvarez making boxing history, becoming the sport’s first-ever undisputed super middleweight champion following an eleventh-round knockout of unbeaten IBF titlist Caleb Plant at MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Barely a mile away at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, Mayer (16-0, 5KOs) jumped out of her comfort zone to engage in a hellacious slugfest with France’s Hamadouche (22-2, 18KOs) who initiated an action fight early in the night. It was a change of pace for Mayer, a 2016 U.S. Olympian from Colorado Springs by way of Los Angeles who normally uses her height and reach advantage to soundly outbox opponents.
It was clear from the opening bell that boxing alone was not going to slow down Hamadouche, who entered the fight with a 13-fight win streak and four straight knockouts along with the reputation of boasting a high motor. Hamadouche lived up to that billing, throwing an absurdly high 873 punches in just 20 minutes of ring action.
Mayer established career-best marks with punches thrown (594) and landed (239), having to do so in a fight where she was pushed to the limit for the first time as a pro. Hamadouche adjusted to an early rush from Mayer, taking control of a championship clash largely fought on the inside. A fiercely-paced round one saw Hamadouche push past Mayer’s jab to land the more telling blows, then stunning Mayer with a right hand in round two.
Mayer took the lead in round three, boxing when necessary and also making Hamadouche pay whenever the French boxer tried to close the gap. Hamadouche never stopped trying to press the action, though Mayer not only adapted to the strategy but managed to beat her heavier-handed rival at her own game.
The all-action fight saw Mayer become frighteningly more accurate as the rounds progressed, the perfect complement to Hamadouche’s non-stop attack even if some of the steam was coming off her punches.
Mayer landed 20 or more punches in all but two rounds, while Hamadouche did so in every frame but round nine—where she landed 19 punches. The 872 punches thrown by Hamadouche was the third most ever in a women’s fight, behind only Delfine Persoon (962) and Amanda Serrano (927) yet somehow not enough to win more than two rounds on any of the three judges’ scorecards (100-90, 99-91, 98-92).
Two things were clear by the end of the night—judges Lisa Giampa and Max DeLuca missed out on one hell of a fight; and Mayer and Hamadouche delivered ten rounds of action worthy of recognition as BoxingScene.com’s 2021 Female Fight of the Year.
The runners-up for BoxingScene.com’s 2021 “Female Fight of the Year” award are listed below.
Kali Reis SD10 Jessica Camara: The November 19 all-action WBA/IBO/WBO junior welterweight title unification on DAZN fight saw Providence’s Reis dig deep in the closing rounds to fend off a determined Camara who forced a frenetic pace from the opening bell. The Toronto native appeared to jump out to an early lead, only for the 38-year-old Reis—fighting at the lowest weight of a career spanning four weight divisions—put her championship experience to proper use in the second half to preserve the win in their junior welterweight tournament semifinal.
Katie Taylor UD10 Natasha Jonas: The pro rematch to their 2012 London Olympics quarterfinals saw Taylor—a two-time Olympian who won a Gold medal in 2012—was a far more competitive affair, as properly reflected in the final scores (96-94, 96-94, 95-94). Taylor (20-0, 6KOs) began and closed the fight strong, with Jonas (10-2-1, 7KOs) landing the far more telling blows for much of the second half of their memorably May 1 DAZN clash in Manchester, England.
Monsterrat Alarcon MD10 Silvia Torres: The lone fight of the bunch without a major belt at stake, Alarcon and Torres delivered an Azteca TV-aired slugfest to remember in boxing’s smallest weight division (atomweight) in Leon, Mexico. The December 4 clash saw Nezahualcóyotl’s Torres (20-3-2, 7KOs) return for the first time in two years, not showing any signs of ring rust in outworking Mexico City’s Alarcon (17-4-2, 0KOs) for much of the night. Alarcon’s more telling blows proved to be the difference in earning a majority decision (99-91, 98-92, 95-95) for her seventh straight win.
Shannon Courtenay UD10 Ebanie Bridges: Far more attention was paid to Bridges’ barely clothed weigh-in appearance than the actual matchup, though the April 10 WBA bantamweight title fight itself forced the sport to respect the incredible in-ring effort from both participants. Courtenay was forced to overcome a cut on her scalp in round two, while Bridges fought through a swollen shut left eye for much of the second half of the fight. Both fighters earned their stripes, though with Courtenay prevailing by scores of 97-94. 97-93 and 96-94 to defend her title.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox