July is going to be a massive month for the sport of boxing. Before the sport gets to the biggest fights — Errol Spence Jr. vs. Terence Crawford and Stephen Fulton vs. Naoya Inoue — there is some smaller business to be taken care of in the ring. That includes a pair of fights set for Saturday, one of which is a showdown for an undisputed title and the other features a fast-rising lightweight prospect.
Undisputed super featherweight champion Alycia Baumgardner (14-1, 7 KO) is set to face former WBO champion Christina Linardatou (14-2, 6 KO) on Saturday in Detroit (8 p.m. ET, DAZN).
Baumgardner became undisputed in February, beating Elhem Mekhaled to add the WBA title to her WBO, WBC and IBF belts. Despite scoring two knockdowns in the third round, Baumgardner began to tire late in the fight, leading to the bout tightening up a bit down the stretch, though she would ultimately take a safe decision.
Baumgardner immediately made it clear that she was aiming for a rematch with Mikaela Mayer. Baumgardner beat Mayer by split decision in October 2022 and tensions have remained high between the two since.
Before worrying about any potential rematch, Baumgardner first has to get past the only woman to have defeated her in the professional ring.
Linardatou took a split decision over Baumgardner in July 2018. That win is the best on Linardatou’s resume and one she followed up with by defeating Kandi Wyatt to win the WBO junior welterweight title. She dropped that title two fights later, with a unanimous decision loss to Katie Taylor.
Saturday’s other headline bout features rising lightweight prospect Frank Martin (17-0, 12 KO) looking to score a second consecutive win over a fellow undefeated prospect when he takes on former Olympic bronze medalist Artem Harutyunyan (12-0, 7 KO) in Las Vegas (10 p.m. ET, Showtime).
In his most recent outing, Martin trounced Michel Rivera in a WBA title eliminator, making himself one of the mandatory challengers for undisputed champion Devin Haney.
Many were hoping for a big-name opponent for Martin’s next fight. Instead, he was lined up to fight Harutyunyan, an Olympic medalist who has not been a particularly impressive professional.
The fight with Martin will be Harutyunyan’s first outside of his native Germany, where he has won a split or majority decision in two of his five most recent fights against unheralded opponents.
At the press conference ahead of the fight, Martin promised to be a “ghost” and “spook the whole division” while insisting he wouldn’t be overlooking Harutyunyan the way many fans and media members are.
“I’m coming for it,” Martin said. “I just want a dominant performance. I’m ready for whatever he’s got. He’s a come-forward fighter who tries to switch it up and be awkward. If he comes at me too aggressively, then it’s gonna be man down. … Some people don’t respect my opponent because they don’t know who he is, but he’s an Olympic bronze medalist. They try to discredit him because they don’t want to fight me. No matter what, the goal is to dominate.”
Alycia Baumgardner (c) (-1100) vs. Christina Linardatou (+700): Linardatou’s previous win over Baumgardner doesn’t carry much weight heading into this fight. Baumgardner is a better fighter now than she was back then and Linardatou has struggled against top-level fighters like Taylor and Delfine Persoon. There’s a reason why Baumgardner is currently a -1100 favorite. Baumgardner likely learned from stepping on the gas too hard against Mekhaled and should be prepared to take this fight the distance while outworking Linardatou across nearly every round. Pick: Alycia Baumgardner via UD
Frank Martin (-1200) vs. Artem Harutyunyan (+750): This is an unfortunate step back in competition for Martin off his trampling of Rivera. Harutyunyan has never faced anyone near Rivera’s level and has struggled to wins over men far less talented. Add that to Harutyunyan traveling outside of Germany for the first time in his pro career and this has all the makings of one-sided traffic. Pick: Frank Martin via TKO5
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