Anything boxing related - just ask Chris
Anything boxing related - just ask Chris
If we’re being completely honest, no one gave the unheralded Alycia Baumgardner much of a chance against Terri Harper. Other than Alycia Baumgardner that is, but that goes without saying. The 27-year-old Michigan native known as ‘The Bomb’ boasted in pre-fight interviews of having visions wherein she saw Harper on the floor and her own hand being raised. Other than the fact that Terri Harper would finish the fight on her feet, this turned out to be quite prophetic rather than mere bombast.
Sure, she came into Sheffield this past Saturday with six of her ten victories ending before the final bell. All of these, incidentally, were first-round stoppages, including a four-KO streak to begin her pro career following a rather nondescript run in the amateurs. However, only three of her ten vanquished foes had winning records, which puts things into a little clearer perspective concerning Baumgardner’s status as something of an unknown quantity.
One time she did step up in competition prior to last weekend had resulted in a loss to future WBO super-lightweight world champion Christina Linardatou, who took Alycia’s secondary 130-pound WBC title by split decision back in 2018. So, to say that Baumgardner upset the apple cart on Saturday evening would be putting it mildly.
Not that she was looking beyond Baumgardner by any means, but Terri Harper did have her sights set on a pair of high-profile opportunities in 2022—namely a long-overdue rematch against Natasha Jonas, and a title unification fight with WBO/IBF champion Mikaela Mayer.
As of what would turn out to be her final ring walk as a world champion, Harper was just one day shy of being made to impatiently sit on the sidelines courtesy of a terribly broken hand suffered in her last outing opposite Katharina Thanderz. After undergoing surgery to have a metal plate screwed in to hold the fractured and disjointed metacarpal in it proper place, Harper accidentally popped the works loose while unscrewing a jar during a family dinner at the holidays, necessitating a second procedure. Amidst fears that the injury would never heal sufficiently to allow her to resume fighting, a highly anticipated unification bout against unbeaten WBA world titleholder Hyun-Mi Choi scheduled for May was scrapped.
Her surgeon’s supreme confidence in her hand’s renewed strength notwithstanding, Terri Harper’s mind was surely weighed down with uncertainty which must have played a factor in her uncharacteristic performance Saturday night. But, we must give credit where credit is due. Alycia Baumgardner came out of her corner hellbent for leather and never relented. It was pretty apparent from the early going that Harper not only had her hands full with a feisty challenger but had a legitimate threat to deal with and was just unable to rise to the occasion as she had so many times before.
Still, it came as a shock when Baumgardner deftly sidestepped a Harper jab twenty seconds into the fourth round and immediately uncorked a right hook that literally stopped the champion in her tracks. With Harper frozen in place and in obvious peril, Baumgardner and referee Mark Lyson simultaneously rushed toward her with Alycia looking to finish the job with a left hook which smashed its way into Harper’s face past the outstretched arm of Lyson, who threw himself between the two combatants to put a stop to the one-sided proceedings.
There has been some speculation that Harper rebroke her right hand which she appeared to be making much more conservative use of than normal. This assumption has yet to be either confirmed or refuted.
With her shocking upset over Harper, and in such aggressive fashion, Baumgardner flew back to the States with not one but two new title belts to care for and defend. Mikaela Mayer, for one, wasted no time taking to social media and issuing an open challenge to her now fellow super-featherweight titleholder. What a war that will hopefully be.
Terri Harper, meanwhile, finds herself at the proverbial crossroads where she is left to pause and ponder her future. What that will look like for the clearly devastated former champion only time will tell.
One thing is for sure, the women’s 130-pound division suddenly got a whole lot more interesting.