She hadn’t fought in more than two years, so many in boxing thought Layla McCarter had retired from the sport in which she had spent 14 years as one of the best female fighters.
Not true. McCarter, who last appeared in the ring Sept. 30, 2012, wasn’t fighting because no promoter in the United States wanted to pay her what she thought she was worth.
“Promoters in the States don’t think female fighters can sell (tickets),” McCarter said. “It was definitely frustrating.”
But one promoter was willing to do business with McCarter. Thell Torrence, who runs Platinum Entertainment, was looking to host a fight card in Las Vegas. He knew McCarter, and tonight she headlines Platinum’s card at The Orleans, facing a familiar foe in Melissa Hernandez in an eight-round super lightweight bout.
The two have fought twice before. In February 2007, McCarter retained her Global Boxing Union Female world lightweight title with an eighth-round technical knockout. Two months later, Hernandez won an eight-round majority decision and McCarter’s belt.
Seven years later, they will look to settle their differences once and for all. And now seems like a good time to do so given McCarter is 35 and Hernandez 34.
“We need to finish this and make sure we have a clear winner,” said McCarter (35-13-5, eight knockouts). “I’ve missed getting up emotionally for a fight, and it was tough. But the energy is back, and I’m excited. But I’m also at the point where I’ve done everything in boxing, and I’m ready to move on. But I want to go out with a bang.”
While she was inactive in the ring, McCarter found another pursuit to satisfy her competitive cravings — poker. She frequents The Mirage and The Venetian but isn’t a tournament player.
“If someone wants to stake me, I think I can do well playing tournaments,” said McCarter, who has been playing for 10 years and says she averages $300 to $400 in winnings in regular games. “But I’m not going to risk my own money.”
McCarter said tonight’s return is no gamble, and she’s not concerned about any ring rust from two years of inactivity against Hernandez (19-5-3, six KOs).
“I’ve fought before with space between my fights,” she said. “I just need to be sharp and use my superior skills. When my head’s in the game, no one can beat me.”
Tickets for the five-bout card, which is being co-promoted by Roy Jones Jr. Boxing, are $25, $35 and $50. The first bell is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.