Mikaela Mayer had to wait for her first defense to enjoy the championship experience she sought in winning the title eight months prior.
A complete performance was offered by Colorado Springs’ Mayer, who successfully defended her WBO junior lightweight title with a ten-round unanimous decision win over Argentina’s former two-division titlist Erica Farias. Judges Eric Cheek (97-93), Max DeLuca (98-92) and Lisa Giampa (98-92) all ruled in favor of Mayer in their ESPN2-televised title fight Saturday evening at The Theater at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.
Mayer entered the fight as the heavy betting favorite, exhibiting such dominance in the opening round. The 2016 U.S. Olympian and reigning junior lightweight titlist from Colorado Springs by way of Los Angeles put together crisp combinations while Farias–weighing a career lightest 128.2 pounds after having held titles at junior welterweight and lightweight, in that order—measured up her taller and younger foe.
Patience proved wise for Buenos Aires’ Farias in round two, catching Mayer’s attention with a glancing overhand right followed by a forearm to the face. Mayer pushed past the sequence, firing off a three-punch combination and remain laser focused on taking the fight to her experienced challenger.
Mayer remained in control throughout round three, connecting with jabs and right hands. Farias came forward, though failing to land anything worthy of slowing down the defending titlist.
Farias pumped her jab to begin round four, a weapon urged by her corner to offset Mayer’s long right hand. Mayer continued to be the more effective puncher of the two, though Farias took advantage of moments when her American counterpart failed to move out of punching range after finishing her combinations.
Round five saw Farias take the lead, to which Mayer immediately adjusted. A left hook by Mayer had Farias briefly buzzed before the challenger recovered and landed a left hook to the body. Mayer pumped her jab followed by a right hand over the top, with Farias beginning to bleed from her nose.
Mayer fired off a series of jabs to begin round six. Farias looked to work the body but left herself open for right hands upstairs, her face showing the effect as she sported bruising atop her forehead and outside her right eye.
Farias picked up the pace in round seven, though Mayer quickly adjusted. Arm punching by Farias was countered by a double-jab and body shots from Mayer, who brought it back up top to stop Farias in her tracks with a right hand.
Fatigue clearly set in for Farias in round eight. Mayer took advantage, ripping jabs and right hands upstairs, followed by right hand-left hook combinations to keep her challenger off-rhythm. The same pattern held true in the championship rounds, with Mayer dominating the final four minutes of the contest through clean punching and superb ring spacing in disallowing Farias (26-5, 10KOs) to close the gap.
The win comes eight months after Mayer (15-0, 5KOs) dominated previously unbeaten Ewa Brodnicka to win the title last Halloween at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. The event took place behind closed doors, with COVID protocol disallowing fans or sanctioning body representatives, which denied Mayer the thrill of feeding off of the crowd or even having a title to hoist in the air.
She was able to enjoy all of that in her first title defense, while remaining a major player in the stacked junior lightweight division.
Mayer-Farias served as the chief support of a televised tripleheader topped by WBA/IBF bantamweight titlist Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17KOs) versus Michael Dasmarinas (30-2-1, 20KOs).
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox