There was never a moment for as long as she has been a boxer where Mikaela Mayer couldn’t envision herself one day becoming world champion.

The only thing that didn’t go according to plan on the night she brought that to fruition were the surrounding parts. Her one-sided ten-round unanimous decision victory over previously unbeaten Ewa Brodnicka was a performance befitting a title-winning effort last Halloween at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. Only, it came without fans in attendance due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the post-fight celebration lacked an actual title to hoist in the air due to botched communication between the Nevada State Athletic Commission and the WBO.

“It was horrible,” Mayer confessed to of what should have been the most memorable night of her career to date. “I didn’t mind it the first time when I fought Helen Joseph (last July, in the same venue). But there was something about winning a world title with no fans—and no belt—that just didn’t feel right.”

With that comes a makeup call of sorts. Mayer (14-0, 5KOs)—who represented the U.S. in the 2016 Rio Olympics—will make the first defense of her WBO junior lightweight title this Saturday, facing rugged former junior lightweight and lightweight titlist Erica Farias, who drops down from junior welterweight in hopes of becoming a three-division champ. The fight takes place this Saturday, live on ESPN from The Theater at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas and with the venue available to the public at full capacity.

“We did what he had to do but it’s great for fans to be back and I’m definitely looking forward to that element for my first title defense,” notes Mayer.

The bout will serve as the televised co-feature to WBA/IBF bantamweight titlist Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17KOs), the unbeaten three-division champ and pound-for-pound entrant from Japan who faces Philippines’ Michael Dasmarinas (30-2-1, 20KOs) in a mandatory title defense. The same formula applied last Halloween, when Mayer—originally from the greater Los Angeles area and now fights out of Colorado Springs—soundly outpointed Poland’s Brodnicka while Inoue dismantled Australia’s Jason Moloney (21-2, 18KOs) inside of seven rounds.

Both have vowed far superior performances this time around, of the belief they will be energized by the backdrop of a packed house. Not just in her fight, Mayer looks forward to the challenge of being the talk of the town by the end of the night.

“[Inoue is] a great fighter; I have no problem stealing the show from great fighters,” notes Mayer. “I love putting on exciting fights for the people. I want to be known as an exciting fighter and that I can put on a great show.”

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox