Can there be any argument about who is the best female prizefighter in the world?
Layla McCarter flew thousands of miles to South Africa where the Las Vegas female prizefighter handed that country’s Noni Tenge her first pro defeat by knockout to win the vacant WBA junior middleweight world title.
While other female world titleholders refuse to fight outside of their home state or country, McCarter has willingly fought and vanquished a number of opponents in Japan, New Zealand, Canada and now South Africa. Wherever she goes, the spunky McCarter confidently trusts in her boxing skills to overcome prejudiced judges and biased referees.
“I'm well known for taking fights out of the country and winning. I have faith in my ability to win against all odds,” said McCarter, 33, a former featherweight, lightweight and junior welterweight world titleholder. “The bigger the challenge, the better I perform because I see it as an opportunity to prove that I am the best.”
Among boxing brethren in Las Vegas, it’s common knowledge that McCarter is the best female prizefighter. Even pound for pound king Floyd Mayweather considers her the best as proved when he called her to fight another female to settle a bet with his father during a 24/7 HBO telecast.
McCarter’s pro boxing career began in 1998 when she entered with no amateur experience to win her first pro bout against Deshawn Mohammed. She won by decision in Iowa and has never stopped. At first there were a lot of bumps in the road as she learned her craft slowly and methodically. Many losses were incurred as she adapted to the different styles.
In 2001, she won her first world title by unanimous decision against Tracy Byrd in a featherweight battle. She won the junior welterweight world title in 2003 against Lisa Holewyne by decision. She beat Belinda Laracuente for the lightweight world title in 2006. After losing the title in 2007, McCarter has not lost a fight.
“She’s the most skilled female boxer today,” said James Pena, who trains Melinda Cooper, who is considered among the top female prizefighters in the world.
The journey toward becoming the best female prizefighter pound for pound has been an extremely long and arduous adventure. Along the way McCarter has suffered setbacks and lack of tutelage that should have road blocked her career but she continued to climb over the failures and defeats.
McCarter credits trainer Luis Tapia as the person who gave her the guidance and attention to succeed. The Las Vegas trainer says that McCarter has a knack for continually learning the nuances of boxing.
“She has the quick ability to learn,” says Tapia, who also trains men. “And she has an exceptional work ethic.”
A few years back McCarter was in the Mayweather boxing gym when a man entered to check out the surroundings. Upon seeing some females working out he loudly proclaimed that no woman could survive one round with him, adding that he was a martial arts expert and former military man. A couple of boxers inside bet that McCarter could do it and she willingly laced up her gloves and entered the boxing ring against the much larger man who out-weighed her by probably 100 pounds. The bell sounded and McCarter promptly decked the man with a quick left hook. The fight was ended.
It’s taken time for McCarter to reach this point. Along the way there have been defeats with a number of them coming against fighters considered the best of all time in women’s boxing.
Perhaps the most impressive fight came against Chevelle Hallback in 2004. She was a strong and super fast female prizefighter with knockout power. Both had fought earlier and were not shy about fighting each other. At the Pala Casino in a televised bout, the two female warriors slugged it out and showed the world their impressive boxing skills and determination. Many consider that fight the greatest female contest ever seen. Both fighters proved that female boxing had progressed greatly.
Since that fight, McCarter has steadily added even more weapons to her arsenal including knockout power.
When McCarter was offered a fight with Tenge in South Africa it didn’t faze her a bit. Previous experience abroad had taught her what to expect and how to circumvent the problems of fighting in someone else’s backyard.
“We had no video footage of Noni Tenge so could only evaluate her based on her record. We did work more on moving to my right to neutralize her powerful right hand,” McCarter said.
Tenge had never lost and was much taller than McCarter who normally fights at 135 pounds but has been unable to find anyone willing to fight her for decent money at that weight.
“My game plan going in was to feel Noni out the first round to see how she fights and observe her mistakes,” McCarter said.
According to the local publication, Tenge was winning the fight on the score cards as McCarter slowly began tracking her prey.
“She didn't really do anything unexpected. She was very aggressive,” said McCarter who enjoyed the raucous crowd. “It took a couple rounds to figure her out but longer to find my rhythm. It seemed that something was missing and I couldn't get my form or timing throughout the first 6 rounds.”
Once the cobwebs of air travel and acclimation were eliminated the Las Vegas prizefighter stepped up her work.
“In the seventh round, I broke her nose with a right uppercut and she was bleeding profusely. Luis (Tapia her trainer) told me in between rounds to get inside and land hard punches,” McCarter said.
Round eight saw McCarter immediately heed her trainer’s advice.
“At the end of the 8th round, I slipped to my left and landed a hard left hook to her chin. When she wobbled and her eyes rolled, I knew I had her so I quickly took advantage landing a short left and a right that floored her,” she said.
McCarter added the WBA junior middleweight world title in front of a stunned crowd in East London, South Africa.
“It was easy for me to fight at super-welterweight because every time I move up in weight, I bring my speed and footwork with me,” said McCarter who spent another week in that country.
During the past three years McCarter has been claimed by some publications to be the best female prizefighter on the planet. After yet another win against a bigger opponent in another country, can there be any doubt?
McCarter is the best at any weight.