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Alycia Baumgardner vs Elhem Mekhaled: Female Splendor at MSG 

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  • Alycia Baumgardner vs Elhem Mekhaled: Female Splendor at MSG 

    Two bouts between women, which will turn the winners into undisputed champions in the featherweight and super featherweight divisions, will create an electrifying atmosphere this Saturday, February 4th at Madison Square Garden.

    In the duel between the two southpaws, Puerto Rican Amanda Serrano (43-2-1, 30 KOs), based in Brooklyn), will defend her 126-pound WBC, IBF and WBO titles, while Mexican Erika Cruz (15-1, 3 KOs) will defend her WBA title.

    Also, of great interest will be the fight between American Baumgardner (13-1, 7 KOs), 130-pound WBC, IBF and WBO champion and her opponent, French challenger Elhem Mekhaled (15-1, 3 KOs), who will try to snatch Baumgardner’s titles and get the vacant WBA title, which belonged to the undefeated Korean Choi Hyun-Mi (20-1, 5 KOs).

    Choi, who was born in Pyongyang, North Korea but left the country with her family at the age of 14 and settled in Seoul, South Korea, was declared "Champion in Recess", as she suffers from a medical condition that prevents her from fighting. Once she fully recovers, she will have the possibility of facing, as a mandatory challenger, the winner between Baumgardner and Mekhaled.

    For Baumgardner, who was born 28 years ago in Ohio, but now lives and trains in Michigan, the fight in New York will once again allow her to showcase her skills in the United States after three consecutive fights in the United Kingdom.

    In her most recent bout, Baumgardner defeated her compatriot Mikaela Mayer (17-1, 5 KOs) in a difficult brawl, from whom she snatched the IBF and WBO belts, while retaining the WBC belt. The bout was October 15th of last year at the O2 Arena in London. Two of the officials, Steve Gray and John Latham, scored the fight 96-95 in favor of Baumgardner, but Terry O'Connor saw it 97-93 for Mayer.

    Four days later, Choi unanimously defeated Canada's Vanessa Bradford (6-4-2, 0 KOs) in Seoul, earning the Asian her ninth successful defense of the WBA super featherweight crown, which she has held since May 2014, when she anesthetized the now retired Thai, Siriwan Thongmanit.

    The following month, in November, the WBA ordered Choi to defend her belt in a mandatory duel against Baumgardner, making the winner the undisputed queen of 130 pounds.


    To fill the vacancy of the South Korean Choi, the IBF Committee awarded the position to Mekhaled who ranks third in the women's 130-pound rankings.

    Former interim WBC titleholder, Mekhaled, 31 years old and born in Paris, has recently lost by unanimous decision to Belgian Delfine Persoon (47-3, 19 KOs) at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi where they disputed the vacant WBC silver belt.

    The duel against Baumgardner not only allows Mekhaled to debut in the United States, but also provides her the opportunity to become the undisputed champion at 130 pounds.

    Mekhaled emphasized that the February 4th event has great significance for women fighters and that this is a sign that the discipline is growing, with more and more fight cards in which women exhibit the leading role.

    The French boxer said that after winning the interim title in 2015, she waited a long time for the opportunity to fight for the regular belt, but unfortunately it never materialized.

    Mekhaled explained that after a long period of focusing on her personal life and not really training, she accepted the duel with Delfine Persoon with only two weeks of preparation, which led to the setback against the Belgian boxer.

    “Since my WBC interim 2019 title, I’ve been waiting for this moment,” said Mekhaled. “Maybe fate has played well; instead of one belt, they’re all on the line. I am super excited to fight on February 4th at the legendary MSG in New York. God knows how determined I am! It’s my time to shine. Thank you to my advisor Sarah Fina."

    Article submitted by Jorge Juan Álvarez in Spanish.

    Please note any adjustments made were for clarification purposes and any errors in translation were unintentional.