Mikaela Mayer vs Mexico’s Yareli Larios on Friday

Mikaela Mayer Faces Mexico’s Tough Yareli Larios on Friday on ESPN Card


By David A. Avila

Southern California’s Mikaela Mayer’s hunting for a world title in 2019 and the search party begins with Mexico’s Yareli Larios.

NABF super featherweight titlist Mayer (9-0, 4 KOs) meets Larios (13-1-1, 3 KOs) the daughter of a two-time world champion on Friday Feb. 15, at Grand Casino in Hinckley, Minn. The Top Rank show will be televised by ESPN and streamed on ESPN+.

“She has some sound technique,” said Mayer of Larios. “Well we know she’s out of Mexico. Her dad is a two division world champion. Her only loss was a title fight. It was close and it could have gone her way.”

Mexican fighters, especially female prizefighters, are known worldwide for being among the toughest to crack with their pressure style and nonstop punching. But this is not Mayer’s first foray against opponents from south of the border.

“I had to actually beat Mexico to qualify for the Olympics,” explained Mayer, 28, who participated for Team USA in the 2016 Rio Olympics. “Whenever anyone thinks of Mexican fighters they think of pressure fighters that know how to close that distance.”

Larios, 20, is the daughter of Guadalajara’s Oscar “Cholulo” Larios who held the super bantamweight and featherweight world titles. He was trained by Jose “Chepo” Reynoso who now along with son Eddy Reynoso, trains Saul “Canelo” Alvarez the current middleweight and super middleweight world titlist.

The father was a fierce warrior who engaged in notable battles against the likes of Wayne McCullough, Jorge Linares, Manny Pacquiao and Israel Vazquez. On numerous times he prepared in Riverside, California in preparation for those world title fights. If his daughter fights anything like the dad, one can expect a mixture of boxing movement but a willingness to fight inside. Whatever works best.

Yareli Larios has picked up the nickname “Chololita” in deference to the father. Her sole loss was against the extremely tough Yazmin Rivas the current WBA super bantamweight world titlist. Since that fight Chololita has moved up to the super featherweight division.

It’s a stern test for Mayer but a necessary one.

“That’s standard. I’m going in my second year, we want them to get tougher and we want to go for some world title shots and in other weight classes,” said Mayer who relishes challenges. “My coaches don’t want them to be easy. They know the big fights are coming.”

While in the amateurs Mayer fought numerous Mexican style fighters especially in the US where a number of top females clashed with Mayer to secure a place on the American team.

“It was that style when I fought Jajaira Gonzalez in the amateurs,” said Mayer who fought Gonzalez in numerous amateur US national title challenges. “Those were tough fights.”

But Larios has more of a technical style with less brawling.

“This girl doesn’t seem to have a classic Mexican style, she seems to be a boxer. She does have a high punch count,” said Mayer whose height, speed and reach does give her physical advantages against most. “I can handle both styles. I can handle power and someone coming at me.”

Mayer’s last two fights have gone eight rounds and ended in wins by decision. It doesn’t bother the former Olympian because she knows what’s ahead when she fights for world titles.

Elite fighters such as Melissa St. Vil, Natasha Jones await her and world champions such as Eva Wahlstrom, Maiva Hamadouche, Hyun Mi Choi and Ewa Brodnicka are at the top. It’s lofty company that begins with Larios.

Top Rank’s Bob Arum sees opportunity for Mayer.

“She’s right on line for a world title shot this year,” said Arum. “She’s shown terrific progress. She’s fighting a Mexican girl and you know how tough they can be.”

For Mayer and her team it’s what they expect.


(Photo by JP Yim)