Layla McCarter: Undefeated Last 13 Years

Layla McCarter: Seeks Katie Taylor or Jessica McCaskill Fight


By Felipe Leon


Besides 2020 being the year of Covid-19, many can say the year has also been of the female boxer.  One might argue the best fights for the majority of the year have been between women.  In mid-August we had a changing of the guard at welterweight when Jessica McCaskill dethroned long-reigning undisputed champion Cecilia Braekhus.  Later the same month Katie Taylor cemented her place as the lightweight queen with a more convincing win over Delfine Persoon.


One that has not missed any of the action is veteran Layla McCarter (43-13-5, 11KO) of Las Vegas, Nevada.  A pro for over 22 years, McCarter is hoping with the recent changes she can get a shot against one or both of the winners of the fights mentioned.


“I think the ladies are really lighting up lately with Katie Taylor and Persoon, they put on another good show, another good performance,” she said recently in an exclusive interview with the 2-Min Round, the all-female boxing podcast.  “Katie showed she is the better fighter this time.  I think she is improving a lot, every time out.  I look forward to seeing what she has going on next.”


As far as Braekhus, a fighter McCarter has been chasing for years as the #1 ranked welterweight by the IBF, the “Sin City” native was not so complimentary.


“She lost, I am not really surprised,” she said matter-of-factly.  “She has been running from me for years so to see her get beat by somebody that is supposed to be a safer bet, fighting a natural lightweight who is 8-2, I don’t think she saw the threat there.”


“McCaskill is a dangerous fighter,” McCarter continued.  “She makes anybody look bad and kudos to her for always being prepared, taking on the best.”


Although the majority of the boxing world say the McCaskill win over Braekhus was an upset, McCarter doesn’t see it as so.  “I don’t want to be disrespectful but I never held Braekhus that high in my opinion.  I just never saw her as the great fighter as they had her to be.  I wanted to prove it myself, I would have liked to deliver the first loss to her but unfortunately, we were never able to get her in the ring.  I am happy for McCaskill, she is a real fighter, she takes on all challenges but I think Braekhus just got exposed.”


“She looked really flat; she could have had an off night,” she stated.  “I really think she could beat McCaskill if she fought the right way.  She is bigger, she is very athletic, she can use her range, her height, on a different night I think Braekhus could have pulled it off but McCaskill is rough fighter. If she gets you in a dog fight, made her look pretty bad, it happens.”


One of the biggest criticisms of female boxing throughout the years has been the depth of the talent pool with not that many skilled fighters making their way into the pros.  McCarter believes the new wave of fighters might still need some seasoning.


“I think it depends on the individuals,” she explained.  “Katie Taylor is one of my favorite fighters coming out of the amateurs but she still has a lot to learn.  She is getting better every time out but she still gets hit a lot.  That transition from amateur to pro is a big one.  Sometimes when they stay in the amateurs too long, they get accustomed to that style.”


“I think she can improve,” she said.  “I think in general I just think it depends on the individual. There were great fighters then, there are great fighters now.”


Taylor or McCaskill


Even though the welterweight titles are no longer, for the time being, under the grasp of Braekhus, surprisingly McCarter would like to take a different route first.


“I would like to fight McCaskill but I would like me against Katie Taylor better,” McCarter said.  “I think because we are both boxers and it would make for a heck of an exhibition of skill.  I believe it would be a very skillful fight and I would love to test my reflexes against somebody that is a little bit younger, that comes straight from the amateurs, that is the rising thing.  I would love to fight Katie Taylor.”


The seasoned McCarter is considered a warrior willing to fight anybody at any weight class.  In a 61-bout career, she has fought as light as 124 ½ pounds all the way to 149.  She owns wins over Elena Reid, Lisa Holewyne, Jelena Mrdjenovich twice, Belinda Laracuente twice, Melissa Hernandez thrice, and Cindy Serrano among others. She has also dropped her fair share of decisions, 13 to be exact, at a time when women fought anybody at any time and at any weight.  Her losses have come to the likes of Laura Serrano, Melissa Del Valle, Kelsey Jeffries, Chevelle Hallback, Mary Jo Sanders, Mrdjenovich, Hernandez and a few others.


One fact is McCarter has not lost in the last 13 years.  Undefeated in her last 20 fights.


Despite going up and down the weight classes looking for action, now at 41 years of age, there is a limit of what she is willing to lose at the scales.


“I walk around 142 and I fight in the welterweight class because that is where the opportunities were,” she explained.  “I can easily make 135 for a good fight with a good training camp and the right diet. 135 is no problem.  Beyond that it would be tough.  I won the WBA title at 154 pounds but that is definitely not my weight class.  If there was an opportunity to face Claressa Shields or another big fight that made sense and dollars, then I would be happy to fight at 154.”


That fight in September of 2012 for the vacant WBA super welterweight strap in South Africa against local Noni Tenge ranks as her favorite fight of her extensive career.  “I won by knockout and not by decision.  Having my power at that weight was not a problem.  Everybody taught I was going to go the distance and lose.  I was lucky enough I caught her with a left hook in the eighth round and finished up.”


“I love that fight, that was my absolute favorite,” she reminisced.  “I was the lightweight WBA champ at the time and I went up three weight classes to take on the undefeated Noni Tenge and I knocked her out.  It was great moment.  I always feel good to be in somebody else’s territory and rise up to the occasion and conquer what is in front of me.  It brings out the best of me.”


With McCarter’s willingness to take on all comers, it was a bit of a shock a couple of years ago when in talks to possibly finally face Cecilia Braekhus on HBO, the narrative, by Team Braekhus, was that McCarter priced herself out.


“I was never offered six figures for any of those fights,” McCarter said clearing the air of the rumors.  “When we were talking with Braekhus, of course I want the money to make sense, I want to make the right money but I wasn’t being unreasonable in any kind of sense.  When we were going to fight on the GGG-Canelo II, there was a chance we could have fought there.  Tom (Loeffler, Braekhus’ promoter) was looking for an opponent for Cecilia, I told him let’s make it easy, I am ready to do this, just give me $100,000 and the fight is done.”


McCarter shared that Loeffler informed her that amount was not possible.


“I feel that it was disrespectful,” she explained.  “We have to fight to make one hundred grand while the main event is making so much money.  There was plenty of money to go around.”


McCarter also stated she wouldn’t accept $100,000 to face one of the biggest names in the sport today, Claressa Shields.


“It would have to be fair and I wouldn’t be unreasonable but it has to make sense,” McCarter said without stating a specific number.  “It would have to make sense.”


McCarter has carried the stigma of being unreasonable when it comes to purse amount, a mark perhaps unfairly set by Team Braekhus after that negotiation, which McCarter feels it has cost her in the long run in her career.


“it has put me on a shelf a little bit,” she said of the stigma.  “I do think we do have to stand up and ask for closer to what we deserve.  I am never unreasonable but women have to ask for more.  We will never get more if we don’t demand more.  If I don’t do it, then somebody else is willing to do it for cheaper and that is where I am stuck.  I feel that we have to try to do the right thing otherwise things will never change.”




To listen to the full, unedited interview, please visit