It was announced Thursday at a news conference to promote Mikaela Mayer’s title defense against Jennifer Han on Saturday that Mayer has signed a multi-year contract extension with her promoter, Top Rank.
That achievement rivals her success in the ring when one considers that the sport has long favored men.
“Ever since I walked into a gym 14 years ago, I’ve been fighting for a place for women in the sport and to prove that we are a powerful force in the sport of boxing. This contract solidifies that,” said Mayer, who faces Han in the 10-round main event in Costa Mesa, California (ESPN, ESPN+).
“I’ve completed that goal to an extent. Obviously, there is a long way to go with creating equality in the sport and closing that gap, but I couldn’t be happier with this contract. It’s a dream contract.”
Another goal is to continue winning big fights, as Mayer (16-0, 5 KOs) has done.
The 2016 U.S. Olympian from California easily outpointed Ewa Brodnicka to win the vacant WBO junior lightweight title in October 2020 and successfully defended against Erica Farias and Maiva Hamadouche, adding the IBF belt in the last victory. All three of those opponents are good fighters.
So is Han, a former featherweight titleholder from Texas. She’s coming off a shutout loss to lightweight champion Katie Taylor last September but had difficulty losing weight for the fight after giving birth to her second child.
The 38-year-old Han (18-4-1, 1 KO) wasn’t Mayer’s first choice. She had hoped for an opportunity to unify three titles against either Alycia Baumgardner (WBC) or Hyun Mi Choi (WBA) but neither wanted the fight.
“[Han] just went 10 rounds against the 135-pound undisputed champion, Katie Taylor, so I have tons of respect for her,” Mayer said. “I know she has experience and has trained hard, and we didn’t look past her at all in preparing for this fight.”
“It’s no secret that I wanted to continue to unify. I wanted Alycia Baumgardner. I wanted Hyun Mi Choi. That was my first choice. They’re not quite ready to step up to that, I guess, so we had to look at another direction.”
“We wanted to fight someone who is strong and proven. We don’t want any easy fights. We want to continue growing and getting better.”
The fight is a homecoming for Mayer, who spent much of her youth in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles. She has fought only twice in the L.A. area as a professional, the last time in 2018
“I haven’t fought in L.A. in a long time,” she said. “It’s kind of come full circle. I started here 14 years ago when I was 17. And I left at 19 years old with a dream: to become an Olympian and become one of the best female fighters in the world.
“Fourteen years later, I’m here fighting in the main event on ESPN. I’ve come a long way.”