Layla McCarter : “I Know Who I Am And What I’ve Done In This Sport”
By Phil Woolever
There could be an appropriately wild scene at a place called the Wildpark Stadium in Karlsruhe, Germany this Saturday night.
A huge outdoor card is scheduled, with 21 (!) pro bouts currently on the agenda. While around half those potential 136 rounds will be filled out by relative newcomers, many of the tilts feature some solid international boxers.
The most talented of them all could be American welterweight Layla McCarter, whose appearance is justifiably being promoted as one of the fights not to miss.
Popular cruiserweight and former champion Firat Arslan is probably the only boxer getting more publicity on the pay per view marquee.
McCarter, (41-13-5, 11 KOs), is considered by many experts to be the top pound for pound female boxer, and that reputation has created extreme caution among other potential ring rivals.
At press time McCarter’s opponent was Hungary’s Eva Bajic (14-12, 9 KOs), after it appears previously listed Ruth Chisale (10-1) is off the card.
Bajic may not have a glossy record, but she has been in with some of the very best, having faced off against Cecilia Braekhus, Delfine Persoon, Verena Kaiser and three fights versus Mikaela Lauren.
Even though Bajic lost each of those contests, the first hand experience she gained against in such tutorials was likely considerable.
ThePrizeFighters.com contacted McCarter while she was training at her home base in Las Vegas to get her take on a few subjects.
PF : How’s training going?
LM: Training is going well here in the Las Vegas heat. We are putting in ten rounds of sparring per day, as well as physically and mentally preparing for the task ahead.
PF: Many people consider you the top pound for pound fighter in women’s boxing. What do you think about that, and pound for pound rankings in general?
LM: I definitely agree with those who rate me as the number one pound for pound, but I believe these ratings can be quite subjective. There are always newer and less informed fans and media that provide a different perspective. I try not to take it to heart. I know who I am and what I’ve done in this sport, and luckily I’m not the only one.
PF: You’re also considered one of the most “avoided” boxers. Is it hard to get fights against highly ranked opponents or champions?
LM: Yes, it’s proved difficult to make the best fights happen. The blame isn’t entirely on the opponents however. The promotion and money must make sense for these types of matchups. The days of fighting exclusively for the glory have passed into a solid career that must be compensated at the top level to some degree. I understand this entirely.
PF: You’ve been fighting as a pro now for almost 20 years. How has women’s boxing changed or advanced since your debut?
LM: Women’s boxing has changed many times throughout my career. Through the late ’90 and early 2000s, it was all on the rise. Christy Martin was fighting for Don King on televised Mike Tyson cards. Laila Ali and other famous daughters made their campaigns. All women cards were happening.
It seemed like women’s boxing was full of opportunity and promise for young, would-be pros. Then it wasn’t. Women were rarely featured on shows and barely compensated for their efforts, as if we should just be grateful for the exposure.
Most women were forced to give up their boxing careers because of the lack of opportunity and compensation. The most recent boom in activity may be attributed to the fact that women began to focus on the amateur program and Olympics since the pros were virtually non-existent. The Olympians may bring the next big growth. I hope that efforts will be made to nurture this new wave.
PF: How have you been able to fight at such a high level for so long?
LM: If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right! Ask my mom. Lol. It’s about dedicating my whole heart to the sport of boxing. The willingness to sacrifice and work hard, especially when it gets tough. That’s what fighters do. I’m a born fighter.
PF: You held WBA titles in divisions above and below welterweight. Why is welterweight your chosen division right now?
LM: I always went where he opportunities were, whether they were at lightweight or super-welterweight, or in someone’s hometown. Over the course of my career, I’ve competed in seven different weight classes.
I’ve remained in the welterweight class mainly to create the opportunity for a big showdown with Braekhus. If this doesn’t happen soon, I’ll seek out the best fights elsewhere. I’m very comfortable at 140.
PF: How has working with Mayweather Promotions and training at that gym been going?
LM: I signed with them in February of last year, in hopes that we’ll make the biggest fights happen. This is still my hope. We just fought for them once last year, so we continue to stay busy on our own and communicate with CEO Leonard Ellerbe. We have a good relationship and I’ve always enjoyed training at the Mayweather Boxing Gym.
PF: Germany will be the seventh country you’ve boxed in. Is there anywhere else you’d really like to fight?
LM: I love fighting in other countries. It brings out the best in me. On June 16th, Germany will feel like home because of my many German friends and fans who will be in attendance. My opponent is also from another country so I won’t be concerned about the judges, but I still want to win by knockout.
I’d like to fight in as many countries as possible. Specifically, it would be an honor to fight in the famous Luna Park in Argentina, where many greats like Carlos Monzon and Nicolino Loche made their marks.
It would also be great to fight in the hometown of my trainer and manager Luis Tapia, who comes from Iquique, Chile, known as Tierra de Campiones (Land of Champions).
PF: There’s been a lot of talk about a fight against Cecilia Braekhus but reportedly negotiations never worked out. Now that she may need a top opponent like you for another HBO fight, do you think anything has changed?
LM: I doubt that she will (ever) be willing to face me in the ring. One can hope.
PF: Have there been any discussions for a fight against Klara Svensson?
LM: Last year my team offered her team the opportunity to face me in Las Vegas, but they had other plans at the moment.
PF: You’ve said you’d be willing to move up or down for a big fight against someone like Katie Taylor or Claressa Shields, what do you think is most likely to happen?
LM: Whichever opportunity proves to be the most equitable will be the one I choose. I’m physically more comfortable at 135-140 so I would lean toward a showdown with Taylor.
Shields cannot make welterweight so I’d have to move up to at least 154 for the fight. Shields is much bigger physically, but I’d be willing to put my skills to the ultimate test if the opportunity presented itself.