Layla McCarter has taken female boxing to the next level. Saturday night, the six time world boxing champion became the first “Big Knockout Boxing” women’s champion, winning the lightweight title with a seventh round stoppage of fellow boxing title holder Diana Prazak in the pay per view events opening contest. It was an impressive performance by the champ, who was fighting for just the second time since a two year layoff.
Training in numerous martial arts since she was a child, McCarter took to pro boxing in 1998. After a shaky start to her career, she teamed up with manager Luis Tapia of Championship, Inc. and has since went on to win world titles in four weight classes for four different sanctioning bodies and had won 13 consecutive bouts (with five world title fights among them) with a record of 36-13-5 (8 KO’s) leading into the BKB event.
Layla was kind enough to speak with us following Saturday night’s victory.
Jim McGrady: You’re a six time world champion, and with BKB you’ve gotten in on the ground floor of something new. How does it feel to be the first women’s BKB champion and to have won the title in such exciting fashion on your home turf?
Layla McCarter: It feels awesome to be the first BKB Champion and to have put on a good show for my local fans as well as those tuning in all over the country. I’m glad I was able to get the stoppage too. That’s what people like.
JM: Did you prepare for the pit any differently than you would for a conventional boxing match?
LM: Mostly the training was the same as for other fights, but as the fight got closer we fine-tuned, focusing on fighting in close and not stepping back too far. We also utilized an actual pit at the BKB facility in Las Vegas during the last week of training.
JM: Did you feel any added pressure, that maybe the women’s future in BKB was dependent on the quality of your performance?
LM: Of course. It is up to me to open the doors for the future of women’s boxing. If I couldn’t do it with my skill or history, I’d find little hope that change was actually possible. There was big pressure to represent, not just for the future in BKB, but in the wider boxing world.
JM: You didn’t seem to have much trouble with Diana Prazak yet, no matter what you threw at her she just kept coming at you, even after you dropped her in the fourth round. Was there a point in this fight where you were thinking “what do I have to do to get her to back off?”
LM: Not really. I’m pretty sure I could’ve stopped the fight earlier if I’d have turned up the heat. I feel that I was too complacent at times.
JM: Would the fight have played out differently had it taken place in a boxing ring?
LM: In a ring, I may not have gone for the stoppage. I often rely too much on my boxing and I’m content just to win; the pit brought out the best in me.
JM: You issued an open call out after the bout. It’s only been a few days, but has anyone shown interest or has there been any word on who your next opponent might be?
LM: Not yet.
JM: You called out UFC champ Ronda Rousey directly, the MMA fans must have gone nuts with that.
LM: Nuts is right! There are some die-hard Rousey fans who want to get in the ring with me for challenging their girl, lol. In fact, Ronda is the one who is talking about boxing someone her weight with a belt. I’m only pointing out the fact that I’d be the right candidate to kick her butt back to UFC.
JM: You have an extensive background in martial arts that predates your involvement in boxing. Have you ever had the urge to become competitive in that area, or make the move to MMA like some other female boxers have done recently?
LM: No, boxing is my area of expertise. I have martial arts and kickboxing experience but it takes a lifetime to master just one aspect of combat. I’m in love with the sweetest science, the art of hitting and not getting hit; boxing is more beautiful than MMA to me.
JM: Women’s boxing looks to be gaining popularity again. Do you think the modified format of BKB can push it to the next level?
LM: I hope so. BKB may be the best launching pad because of the exposure and format if they continue putting the best female fighters on. One bad matchup can also kill women’s boxing.
JM: Do you think you’ll have any trouble balancing careers in BKB and pro boxing?
LM: BKB is boxing at its best so I’ll have no trouble balancing BKB and boxing in the ring. They will complement each other and keep me busy.
JM: As far as boxing goes, is there anyone on your radar right now, or any title shots coming up in the near future?
LM: I’m still awaiting a legitimate offer from promoters of Cecilia Braekhus or Delfine Persoon; maybe BKB could bring them to fight here.
*Braekhus is the undefeated unified world welterweight champion; Persoon is the WBC lightweight champion and former holder of four other world titles.
JM: Are there any past opponents that you’d like to rematch in the pit?
LM: Not that I can think of, but there are plenty of other fighters out there in Argentina, Europe, etc.
JM: Anything you’d like to add?
LM: Thank you for the coverage of our fight, and thanks everyone for recognizing and supporting women’s boxing! Big thanks to Sue Fox of WBAN, who has been a tireless advocate for many years. I hope we are able to bring the dream to reality soon!