5'4" Layla McCarter
was born on April 19, 1979 in Alameda, California.
Always athletic and active,
Layla began martial arts training at age eight. Her initial training
was at Ed
Parker’s American Kenpo Karate Center in Abilene, Kansas. During the
next nine years of martial arts training, she also
studied various other methods including: Tae Kwon Do, Kung Fu Judo,
Ninjitsu, Shaolin Chuan ‘Fa, kickboxing and Muay
When she moved to Spokane,
Washington in 1995 she began kickboxing and boxing, first through
Northwest Kenpo Karate
center, then at the Spokane Karate Center, later at Lilac City Boxing,
and finally with the Spokane Boxing Club.
She posted a 3-1 record as an
amateur kickboxer. Her only professional kickboxing match was a loss to
Intercontinental Champion Luraina Undershute of Canada.
She defeated future
professional foe Lisa Lewis by a 4-1 margin in the 132-lb final of the
Blue and Gold amateur Tournament in Baldwin Park, California on
September 6, 1998.
Layla's overall record as an amateur boxer was 10-1.
On September 23, 1998 at the
Coeur d'Alene Tribal Bingo and Casino in Worley, Idaho,
Layla showed good movement and a good jab while winning her pro debut
four-round unanimous decision over lightweight Deshaun Mohammed of
Colorado who fell to 1-1.
On February 4, 1999 at the
Coeur d'Alene Tribal Bingo and Casino in Worley, Idaho,
Sandra Yard (129
lbs) of Palm Desert, California defeated
Layla (123 lbs) by four-round unanimous (40-36) decision. The win moved
Yard to 4-2-2.
On April 3, 1999 in Bremerton,
of Bremerton won her pro debut with a
four-round split decision over Layla in junior lightweight action.
On April 24, 1999 at the Art
Museum Masonic Temple Annex in Portland, Oregon,
Margaret McGregor (126½ lbs) of Bremerton, Washington moved her pro
to 2-0 with a four-round decision over Layla (129 lbs), who was now
On June 17, 1999 at the Coeur
d'Alene Tribal Bingo and Casino in Worley, Idaho,
Layla moved her record to 1-3-1 when she fought Tamerah Hudgins of
to a four-round draw in a featherweight bout. Hudgins was 3-0-2 after
On July 26, 1999 at the Great
Western Forum in Inglewood, California,
Mexico City southpaw Laura Serrano
had her hands full
while winning a hard-fought four-round split (40-36, 40-36, 38-39)
Layla in junior lightweight action.
Serrano moved to 6-0-1 while McCarter fell to 1-4-1 ... but Layla gave
the undefeated veteran a close fight.
The decision was greeted by boos from the crowd, and most observers did
agree with the shutout that two judges awarded to Serrano in this
Layla drove to Las Vegas in
February 2000, the day
after she received her first driver's license. She had $200 in her
pocket and no real place to go. What she did have, at
age 20, was a burning desire to make it big in boxing. She spent a few
months struggling with a car
that constantly broke down, doing odd jobs like washing cars.
"I was not ready to
fight yet," McCarter told
Las Vegas Weekly writer Molly Brown. "Working
took too much out of me. I took fights early on because I needed money.
One day, I was going to get tags for my car, and I got into a car
accident the day of the weigh-in. When they stopped me I had a
Washington driver's license, my insurance had expired, tags expired. I
was like, 'I gotta get money from this fight...'
I took that one for $1,500 for four rounds. The girl didn't show up,
promoter said he was going to give me the money anyway, but he never
Layla hit the boxing gyms
whenever she could
and one of her male sparring partners made an appointment for her to
meet his manager, Luis Tapia of Championship, Inc. at the legendary
Johnny Tocco’s Boxing
Gym. Luis, knowing about her 1-4-1 pro record wasn't eager to meet with
her. "The only thing I really liked about her was her age",
he says. But Tapia had her spar with two male fighters, and then
sparred with her himself.
Tapia not only recognized
Layla's natural skills, but also noted she had great
shoulders for boxing and a hunger for the sport.
"I’ve only personally trained two other fighters,"
he stated, "I have to see the
potential, before I dedicate my time."
Since then, Tapia
has managed and trained Layla into an outstanding professional fighter.
On April 29, 2000 at
Peppermill Hotel Casino in Reno, Nevada,
Layla (133 lbs) earned her second pro win by TKO'ing Shelley Lay (129
of Salt Lake City, Utah at 1:29 of the third round.
McCarter moved to 2-4-1, Lay fell to 1-3.
McCarter vs. Reid in Las Vegas, July 2000
© Copyrighted photo taken by Mary Ann Owen
On July 16, 2000 at Arizona
Charlie's in Las Vegas, Nevada, Layla (126 lbs) improved her record to
3-4-1 with a four round unanimous decision over Elena
Reid (122½ lbs)
from Phoenix, Arizona, who fell to 1-1 as a pro boxer.
On July 22, 2000 in Maywood,
California, she moved to 4-4-1 with a four-round decision over Jessica
Treat of Los Angeles, who fell to 2-2. McCarter knocked Treat down in
the third round and went on to
dominate the bout.
On August 4, 2000 at the Ben
Hur Shrine Temple in Austin, Texas, Layla (125½ lbs) improved her
record to 5-4-1 with a six-round unanimous decision over over Linda Tenberg (124 lbs) of
Austin in a defensive
battle. Linda Tenberg fell to 4-2 with the loss.
On August 24, 2000 at Coeur
d'Alene Tribal Bingo and Casino in Worley, Idaho, Layla moved to 6-4-1
with a first-round TKO over Jamie Day of Odgen, Utah in a featherweight
bout. McCarter made
short work of Day by landing punishing body blows, then when Day tried
to cover up, Layla finished the
job by bloodying Day's nose. Day fell to 0-3.
On October 7, 2000 at Sky Ute
Casino in Ignacio, Colorado, Layla defeated reigning champion Sandra Yard of Coachella,
California by a clear (100-90,99-91,97-93) unanimous decision
to win the IFBA Featherweight title. The taller Yard was the aggressor
initially, but McCarter took
control by countering Yard's left leads and landing big right hands.
Yard was frequently beaten to the
punch as McCarter darted in and out landing quick combinations.
McCarter sent Yard reeling into the
ropes in the fourth round and dominated the later part of the ten-round
fight. Yard fell to 11-4-2. At
21, Layla became the youngest boxer to win an IFBA world championship
Women's Boxing Page
correspondent Rod Mahaffey wrote "In the main event, McCarter
took early control by countering Yard's left
leads with pinpoint accuracy, landing big right hands repeatedly. Yard,
perhaps showing signs of age, was unable to cope with McCarter's foot
speed and quick combinations. Despite applying constant pressure
Yard was frequently
beaten to the punch and McCarter exhibited surprising skills as she
darted in and out, flashing multiple combinations then retreating out
harms way, avoiding Yard's responses. Not enough can be said about the
incredible improvement that McCarter displayed under the tutelage of
trainer Luis Tapia and not enough can be said of the courageous
performance of Yard, a gallant battler in defeat who never stopped
trying to the final bell. At the conclusion, Yard announced her
retirement from the women's fistic wars. She won her title over veteran
Chris Kreuz and was a fighting champion but youth must be served. Yard
just passed her 40th birthday while McCarter is a budding star a mere
McCarter had taken the title
fight at two weeks' notice after Yard's original opponent pulled out.
McCarter said that since she had faced Yard in their first
fight, Luis Tapia had taught her mental toughness
as well as boxing skills. "He really made me fight for that,"
"I wanted to quit after the third round. I had a
this awful pain. And he was like, 'Do I have to
pick you up and drag you out there? We came all this way.' I went back
out for seven rounds. The pain was still there, but I didn't focus on
it any more. The rounds started getting easier. The last six went like
"I admire Sandy Yard
for everything she’s done,"
McCarter after the decision, "but she’s the old wave and I’m
the new wave."
McCarter was nominated by WBAN as the Most Improved
Fighter for the year 2000.
On January 17, 2001 at Yonkers
Raceway in Yonkers, New York, a sold-out house of 1200 saw undefeated
York Golden Gloves 132-lb champ Melissa
Salamone (5'5", 131 lbs) win a
unanimous six-round decision over Layla (127 lbs). Salamone (now
19-0-1, 7 KO's) was more aggressive and
landed the harder punches, especially with her straight right in the
had been scheduled to fight Shakurah Witherspoon, who she had already
defeated twice, but Layla stepped in as a replacement close to the date
of this fight.
On March 9, 2001 at the Hilton
in Reno, Nevada, Layla moved her pro record to 8-5-1 (2 KO's) with a
dominant performance over Marilyn Salcido of Fontana, California in a
four-round bout. Salcido fell to
2-2 (1 KO).
McCarter was named WBAN's
Fighter of the Month in March 2001.
On May 19, 2001 at Sky Ute
Casino in Ignacio, Colorado. Layla weighed in at 123½ lbs and
defended the IFBA Featherweight title against southpaw challenger JoJo Wyman
(5'4", 124½ lbs) of Los Angeles. McCarter, who had broken her right
hand two weeks earlier and
whose trainer Luis Tapia wasn't allowed in her corner because of an
infraction in California, had
problems solving Wyman's style and the fight ended up as a hard-fought
but controversial draw ... one
judge gave Wyman the decision 98-92, another saw it for McCarter 97-93
and the third saw it as a 95-95
draw. Wyman had found a home for her left to McCarter's head throughout
the bout and apparently had the
crowd on her side after being cut over her right eye from a clash of
heads in the fourth. Wyman also
finished strongly in the ninth and tenth. McCarter herself seemed
disappointed by her performance as
she told local reporters "I didn't give it my all. I lost my heart",
adding "they took my trainer from
me... that was the biggest factor." Wyman fell to 7-3-1 (no KO's).
Women's Boxing Page hopes we'll see a
between these two top-flight featherweights to clear the air after this
On July 7, 2001 at Sky Ute
Casino in Ignacio, Colorado, Layla weighed in at 125 lbs and retained
IFBA belt with a 10-round unanimous decision over IFBA Intercontinental
Junior Lightweight champion Tracy Byrd
(5'4", 125½ lbs) of Flint, Michigan. McCarter did, in her own
words, "just enough to win", and knocked Byrd down
with an uppercut and a jab in the fifth round of
their Main Event. McCarter was again fighting without trainer Luis
Tapia in her corner because of a
suspension, and at times looked tentative against the more aggressive
Byrd. Byrd expressed her
disappointment at the decision, saying that she thought she had pressed
the fight and landed the more
solid blows. Byrd slipped to 12-3-0 (4 KO's) with the loss.
On January 13, 2002 at the
Venetian Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada, Layla and
Alicia Ashley fought to a six-round majority draw (59-55
Ashley,57-57,57-57). There were no
knockdowns in a fight in which Ashley was busier than McCarter but
neither landed a lot that was solid.
Both seemed happy to tie each other up in the later rounds. McCarter
landed well to Ashley's body near
the end of the third and Ashley tagged McCarter with two good shots to
the jaw in the final stanza.
Ashley's record moved to 6-3-1 (0 KO).
February 17, 2002 at Stardust Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada,
undefeated lightweight Jessica
Rakoczy of Las Vegas pounded out a
clear six-round unanimous decision over McCarter in a 135-lb bout.
There were many fast-paced exchanges and both landed solidly at times,
but Rakoczy looked sharper and controlled the action better on her
way to a 59-55,59-55,60-54 decision. The Canadian-born Rakoczy moved to
9-0 (2 KO's). (Mary Ann Owen who covered the fight or WBAN at
ringside said that McCarter kept her distance from Rakoczy, and that
the exchanges of punches were fast and furious. Owen said, "Rakoczy
controlled the pace of the fight, she threw some of the harder blows to
McCarter's head." For more fight
photos by Mary Ann Owen, please go
On April 13, 2002 at Sky Ute
Casino, Ignacio, Colorado, Sandra Yard
of Coachella, California
came out of retirement to win the IFBA Junior Lightweight title with a
clear (97-94,97-94,97-93) decision over Layla. Yard
advanced to 12-4-2 (2 KO) with an impressive win.
On April 29, 2002 in Tokyo, Japan, Layla defeated
Japanese Women's Boxing Association Featherweight Champion
Raika of Tokyo by a unanimous decision. Layla's
manager Luis Tapia told WBAN, "Layla took Raika to school and
showed outstanding boxing ability to a country which had never seen
women boxing like that before." Raika fell to 6-1-0
with the loss.
Layla (left) vs. Miki Kikukawa
On July 13, 2002 at Aladdin
Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, McCarter (126 lbs) won a four-round
unanimous (40-36) decision
over Miki Kikukawa (122½ lbs) of Japan, whose record fell to 7-3-1 (3
On July 18, 2002 at the Rose
Garden in Portland, Oregon, McCarter
fought IBA Bantamweight champion Ada
Velez of Puerto Rico to a six-round majority draw (58-56
Velez,57-57,57-57) in a non-title bout.
McCarter moved to 11-7-4 (2 KOs) with her second bout in a week, while
reached 10-1-1 (5 KO).
On November 7, 2002 at
Centennial Gardens in Bakersfield, California, Layla (125 lbs) took on
Bakersfield native Kelsey Jeffries
(125½ lbs) of Gilroy, California in a defense of the IFBA featherweight
title. Jeffries won the title with a ten-round unanimous (100-90,97-
93,98-92) decision in a bout that many saw as being
much closer than the scorecard indicated. Jeffries, then ranked #5 at
featherweight, was the aggressor in the early going
and tried to work on McCarter's body at close quarters. McCarter
replied with good movement, hand speed and nifty
counterpunching with her left hook. After a close opening round in
which both tried to establish their jabs, Jeffries kept
the heat on McCarter enough to convince the judges but McCarter boxed
effectively in the later rounds and appeared to have
Jeffries in some trouble in the final stanza.
Layla and trainer Luis Tapia
were upset by the lop-sided scoring of the Jeffries fight. McCarter
shook her head in
disbelief when the decision was announced and later stated "I
feel that I fought the best fight that I know how to fight. I
boxed well and I countered well and I wasn't getting hit...She landed a
few shots but I think that I landed more and I feel
that I won the fight, honestly. Even in her hometown. I was surprised
at the decision; I'm outraged. I'm upset that they took
everything that meant anything to me. The politics of boxing...it gets
you. I don't know it might be time for a change. I'm
tired of the politics. Boxing is making me sick to my stomach."
Trainer Luis Tapia added:
"We won the fight. She gave her a
boxing lesson. One scorecard had it 100-90! No way."
Jeffries, who has been one of the busiest female boxers this year,
called McCarter "good and tough" and said she would fight her again.
Jeffries advanced to 17-7-0 (1 KO)
with the win.
On December 6, 2002 at
Edgewater Hotel and Casino in Laughlin, Nevada, Layla won a four-round
(38-38,40-36,40-36) decision over unranked Blanca Luna of Las Vegas.
Luna fell to 2-1 with the loss.
On December 28, 2002 at Johnny
Mercer Theater in Savannah, Georgia, a crowd estimated at 1200 saw Chevelle Hallback of Tampa,
Florida win a unanimous (98-91,97-95,100-90) ten-round decision over
Layla. Hallback knocked McCarter down in the second
round and dominated the early going with her aggressive style but
McCarter rallied as the fight went on. McCarter could
not match Hallback's punching power, however, and the outcome was never
in any doubt according to my correspondent.
a great boxer and gave me some problems with her movement, but I'm
still the champion," said Hallback, who improved to
13-3-1 (7 KO) with the win. The bout had been billed as an IBA title
defense by Hallback but McCarter reported a hand
injury before the bout took place and it was not sanctioned as a title
On February 15, 2003 at
Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada, Layla (131 lbs) won a six-round
decision over Tracy Byrd
(131 lbs) of Flint, Michigan. Both boxed
cautiously at first but the bout turned into a clinch-fest in the later
from a rousing finish as Byrd tried to outslug McCarter to tip the
scales on the scorecards. McCarter, who took the fight on three days'
notice, advanced to 13-9-4 (2 KO) while Byrd fell
to 12-6-0 (4 KO) with her second loss to McCarter.
On March 7, 2003 at City
Center Pavilion in Reno, Nevada, Layla (132 lbs) won a six-round split
decision in a quick
rematch with Tracy Byrd
(132 lbs), who fell to 12-7-0 (4 KO) with this third loss to McCarter.
vs. Lisa Lewis in April 2003
© Copyrighted photo taken by Sue TL Fox
On April 18, 2003 at Palace
Indian Gaming Center in Lemoore, California, Layla (134 lbs) won a
unanimous (59-55,59-55,59-55) decision over Lisa
Lewis (133 lbs) of Fresno, California. McCarter used superior movement
and accurate counterpunching to frustrate the more
aggressively stalking Lewis, but Lewis got the better of some
hard-fought exchanges when she had McCarter against the
ropes. The fight saw several exciting toe-to-toe exchanges,
particularly in an action-packed final round.
Lewis fell to 5-7-0 (2 KO). See
Photo Gallery #63 on
Records Member Site for more fight photos.
Layla rocks Claudia Valenciana!
© Copyrighted photo taken by Mary Ann Owen
June 14, 2003 at Stratosphere Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, Layla moved up
in weight to 139½ lbs and won a clear six-
round unanimous (59-53,60-52,60-52) decision over Claudia Valenciana
Duffer of Oxnard, California (143½ lbs). McCarter easily outboxed the
bigger, slower and less
experienced Valenciana, and knocked her down in the first and fifth
rounds with jabs to her chin. McCarter improved to
16-9-4 (2 KO) while Valenciana suffered her first pro loss in five
fights, falling to 4-1-0 (2 KO). See
Photo Gallery #69 on
Records Member Site for more photos.
On October 4, 2003 at Northern
Lights Casino in Anacortes, Washington,
Layla (137½ lbs) won a clear ten-round unanimous (100-89,98-92,98-92)
decision over Lisa Holewyne
(5'8½", 140 lbs) of Houston, Texas for the GBU
Junior Welterweight title. McCarter's counterpunching skills and
quickness allowed her to thoroughly outbox the taller Holewyne, cheered
on by a partisan crowd. Holewyne tried to come
forward throughout the fight but only caught up to McCarter in the
fourth. McCarter finished the fight with a flurry of
combinations that brought the crowd to its feet. Holewyne fell to
18-10-1 (5 KO). [Fight
On April 16, 2004 at the Gund
Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, Layla (137 lbs) lost a six-round unanimous
decision to unbeaten Mary Jo
Sanders (140½ lbs). Sanders improved to 8-0.
Layla trades with Chevelle Hallback for the IBA title
© Copyrighted photo take by Tony Duffy
On July 2, 2004 at Pala Casino
in San Diego, California,
now resident in Temecula, California, defended her IBA Junior
Lightweight title with a 10-round unanimous (98-92,97-93,99-91)
decision over Layla in a well-fought bout that was featured as the
co-main event on a card carried live on ESPN2's Friday Night
Fights. Hallback's aggression won her a clear edge on the
judges' scorecards, but McCarter had counter-punched effectively
throughout the entire bout, especially when Hallback came after her
with looping shots. Teddy Atlas of
ESPN2 scored the fight 96-95 for McCarter. After
the fight, McCarter said that she felt the decision was fair, because "I
was playing too much defense and letting her get off too many shots
without return." Hallback complimented McCarter, saying: "I
had the harder punches, but she had a beautiful jab. She can be a
champion." Hallback improved to 22-4-1 (10
Photo Gallery #186 on
Records Member Site for more photos by
On February 12, 2005, at the
Ramada Inn City Centre in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Layla
(133 lbs) handed home town favorite Jelena
Mrdjenovich (132½ lbs) her first loss with a one-sided
(59-55,59-55,59-56) six round unanimous decision. McCarter dominated
this bout from the opening bell and right through the sixth round. "My
trainer told me to come out, fake the jab and throw a right. I did and
it landed perfectly," said McCarter, "that set the
pace and I think I earned a bit of respect from Jelena." McCarter
proceeded to dominate the bout with her combinations. Mrdjenovich
landed her best shot of the night in the final round, but it was too
little too late. Asked if she had some advice for the home town
fighter, Layla said "I would tell her not to take another
fight against someone with 30-some fights when she's only had nine." Mrdjenovich
fell to 9-1 (5 KOs).
June 18, 2005 at Shaw Convention Centre in Edmonton, Jelena Mrdjenovich (134
lbs) won an eight-round unanimous (78-75,79-74, 79-73)
decision over Layla (129½ lbs). McCarter tried to use her
speed and movement to control Mrdjenovich in the early rounds but
Mrdjenovich used her jab more effectively than in their first encounter
and also landed left hooks to the body and head. McCarter caught
Mrdjenovich with a hard left to start the third, but Mrdjenovich also
landed some good flurries. McCarter came on in the fourth but
Mrdjenovich took over the fight after McCarter suffered a broken radial
bone in her forearm in the fifth, and dominated the later rounds as
McCarter gamely fought on essentially one-handed from a southpaw
stance. McCarter landed several hard rights in the eighth but could not
recover from Mrdjenovich's control of the middle of the fight. On
several occasions the ring doctor asked McCarter if she wanted to
continue, but the Las Vegas fighter toughed it out and survived the
last three rounds. The bout was the main event of Canada's
first all-female pro boxing card in the "A Ring of Their Own" series.
Mrdjenovich improved to 12-1 (7 KOs) with this win.
refused to get knocked out or lose by a knockout, that would devastate
me," said McCarter, while nursing an obviously swollen left
hand. "My arm was in a lot of pain so I had to adjust. Every
time Jelena punched the arm it kind of made me cringe, folded me. I
think I would have won the fight if I had both arms intact."
McCarter told WBAN "Layla broke her forearm in two pieces.
She will need surgery as soon we get back to Las Vegas, she probably be
out for three months." McCarter had been set to
fight Holly Holm as a challenger for Holm's IBA World Junior
Welterweight belt the following week in Isleta, New Mexico.
recovering from this injury, McCarter told WBAN that she was
tired of the female boxers in her weight class not wanting to fight
her, and would move up in weight class to fight the "big
On April 1, 2006 at the Sky Ute Casino in Ignacio,
Colorado, Layla returned to the ring at 141½ lbs and in an
action-packed crowd-pleasing bout won a six-round unanimous
(58-55,59-56,60-54) decision over Victoria Cisneros (146½ lbs) of
Albuquerque, New Mexico. According
to ringside reporter Chris Cozzone, "The far larger
Cisneros was like a charging bull, but the ringwise McCarter, the
diminutive matador, made it look easy, avoiding the slap-happy punches
of Cisneros and making her pay every time she had the inclination to do
so." Cisneros fell to 3-4-2 (0 KOs).
Shadina Pennybaker vs. Layla McCarter in June 2006
Photo courtesy Luis Tapia
On June 24, 2006 at the Sky
Ute Casino in Ignacio, Colorado, Layla (142 lbs) won by a fifth round
stoppage (TKO) when Shadina
Pennybaker (147 lbs) of Pittsburgh failed to come out for the
sixth round, retiring at the end of the fifth. According to a
report by Chris Cozzone, McCarter was too fast and
skillful for the larger Pennybaker after the first round. As
the fight progressed McCarter picked her spots, landing fast
combinations on Pennybaker who could not land anything solid. In the
fifth, McCarter brawled with Pennybaker, driving her back at the end of
the round. Pennybaker attributed her retiring to the several accidental
head-butts that damaged the inside of her mouth. “We
were clashing heads a lot,” McCarter admitted. “But
I think my punches and my experience was getting to her.” See
Gallery #367 on the WBAN Records
Member Site for
more photos of this bout. Pennybaker fell to 9-6-1 (2
Layla takes a right from Dakota Stone
© Copyrighted photo taken by Mike Blair
On October 7, 2006 at the
Lucky Eagle Casino in Rochester, Washington,
Layla moved up to fight at junior middleweight, weighing in at 149 lbs
for an eight-round NorthWest Boxing Association title bout with Dakota
Stone (5'10", 154 lbs) of Seattle, Washington. According to a
WBAN ringside report
from photojournalist Mike Blair, "Stone controlled the
early rounds because she was able to use her height advantage to keep
McCarter moving backwards. Stone also threw more punches early, and
though she was able to catch McCarter, she never seemed to connect
flush enough to stagger her. McCarter settled down in the middle rounds
when she began ducking just out of reach of Stone's jab, and when
trouble approached, McCarter tied Stone up. The middle rounds were
quite close. It appeared that McCarter threw the more accurate, and
probably the heavier punches, but Stone remained the busier fighter.
The fight turned in McCarter's favor in the later rounds. She was able
to catch Stone cleanly, sneaking her jab inside and underneath Stone's
long reach. When the bell sounded to end the fight McCarter's corner
man hoisted her as she raised her arms. Stone too took a bit of a
victory lap, arm raised to the cheering crowd. The championship belt
was in the ring, and the crowd waited to hear the decision. After four
rounds all three judges had Stone ahead 39-37. McCarter won rounds 7
and 8 on all three judges' cards. There was little doubt that she was
the stronger and more accurate fighter as the end neared. One judge
scored the fight 77-75 for Dakota Stone, the other two had the fight
even at 76. But after eight rounds of warfare, there would be no
clear-cut winner, the fight ended in a majority draw." Layla
moved her record to 20-12-5 (3 KOs) while 37-year-old Dakota Stone, a
former US national amateur champion, moved to 7-4-5 (1 KO) as a pro
Photo Gallery #393 on the WBAN Records
Member Site for
more of Mike Blair's photos of this bout.
On November 17, 2006 at the Orleans Hotel and
Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, Layla (133½ lbs) won a clear
(100-90,99-91,97-93) 10-round unanimous decision over Belinda Laracuente (132
lbs) of Puerto Rico. for the vacant GBU Lightweight world
title. The bout fulfilled a long-standing wish of McCarter's
to fight a title fight with -minute rounds. Belinda's
record fell to 22-15-3 (9 KOs).
Layla hammers Donna Biggers in January 2007
© Copyrighted photo taken by Mary Ann Owen
On January 5, 2007 at the Orleans Casino and Hotel,
in Las Vegas, Nevada, Layla TKO'd Donna
Biggers of Boiling Springs, South Carolina, 2:28 in the
second round of a scheduled twelve-3min-round bout for the GBU and WBA
Lightweight titles. According to a ringside report
from Victor Pera in FightNews.com, "McCarter started working
right away, finding a home for strong double jab-right hand
combination. It was sadly apparent after the first thirty seconds that
the tough fight on paper was going to be another dismissal of a fighter
with a padded record. Shooting every one of her punches short, Biggers
looked nervous at first but soon showed it wasn't nerves but lack of
foot work that was her downfall. McCarter easily dodged and countered
everything her opponent threw and was landing virtually every punch she
sent bringing the sell-out crowd to a roar early on when she had
Biggers on the ropes and in trouble. Amazingly Biggers was able to
survive the first heavy onslaught from McCarter, but not for very long.
Just seconds before the first round was to end McCarter unleashed a
rabid flurry that ended with a big left hook sending Biggers to the
canvas. After beating the count and answering the bell for the second
round, Biggers' lack of ability to put up a fight or even get out of
the way was becoming brutally apparent as her face was peppered and
bloodied by every punch McCarter landed. With several members of the
audience calling for the red corner to throw in the towel referee Kenny
Bayless kept a very close eye as McCarter continued to land at will.
Two pinpoint solid left hooks landed on target in succession prompting
Bayless to finally save Biggers from any further punishment."
Layla moved her record to 22-12-5
(4 KOs) while Biggers dropped to 18-4-1 (15 KOs). For more fight photos by Mary
Ann Owen, see
Photo Gallery #403 on the WBAN Records
Layla vs. Melissa Hernandez in Las Vegas
© Copyrighted photo taken by Mary Ann Owen
On February 14, 2007 at the Orleans Hotel and Casino in
Las Vegas, Nevada, Layla (132 lbs) won by an eighth
round TKO over Melissa
“Hurracan” Hernandez (133½ lbs) of the Bronx, New York City.
The fight was scheduled for twelve three-minute rounds, with McCarter
defending her GBU lightweight title. Photographer Mary Ann
Owen of BILV, said of the fight, “Hernandez
fought very well against the experienced McCarter. Hernandez displayed
courage and heart, McCarter’s experienced prevailed.”
the fight, McCarter said, “Hernandez
has a fighter’s heart. I respect her for stepping up, she will learn
from this and will use the experience for improvement. It took a lot of
guts to fight someone of my experience. We all pay our dues this
way. Her time will come and she will be a champion.”
For more fight photos by Mary Ann Owen, see
Gallery #407 on the WBAN Records
McCarter improved her record to 23-12-5 (5 KOs), while dropping
Hernandez to 6-1-1 (2 KOs).
Layla McCarter vs Melissa Hernandez rematch, April 2007
© Copyrighted photo taken by Mary Ann Owen
On April 27, 2007, Melissa
Hernandez (130 lbs) returned to the Orleans Hotel and Casino
in Las Vegas for a rematch with Layla
(133½ lbs) this time taking the GBU Lightweight
title away from the home-town favorite by an eight-round majority
decision. According to a WBAN
by Lori Steinhorst, "Melissa 'Huracan' Hernandez approached
the ring with an air of confidence and a playful nature, dancing and
smiling all they way. That playful nature was carried into every round
and it was apparent early on that she was well prepared for this fight.
Although Layla McCarter was able to catch Hernandez with some well
placed right hands and jabs, they appeared to have no effect on
Hernandez, who continued to press the action aggressively. This was a
different Melissa Hernandez. Her timing was precise and her right hand
accurate. Her legs were strong. She had a game plan and it was clear
she was sticking to it. Hernandez won by a majority decision with one
judge seeing the fight as a draw. This bout was eight rounds, at three
Hernandez improved her record to 7-1-1 (2 KOs)
with the win.
On May 25, 2007 at the Orleans
Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Layla (144 lbs) won a six-round
unanimous (60-54,60-54,60-54) decision over
(146 lbs) of Dallas, Texas, who fell to 6-3-1 (1 KO).
On June 8, 2007 at the Sky Ute Casino in Ignacio,
Colorado, Layla squeaked out an eight-round majority decision over Dominga Olivo of New York. As
by Chris Cozzone of New Mexico Boxing, "Olivo, with just one
weapon in her arsenal, a Ricardo Mayorga-style overhand right, took the
fight to the ringwise McCarter, missing as often as connecting, but
winning rounds by sheer aggression and determination. Meanwhile,
McCarter, not quite as active as usual, waited too long, pocketing her
ring savvy and multi-dimensionality to allow Olivo too many
opportunities to land her single weapon. It was McCarter’s ring
generalship that won her the first, but, after a minute-and-a-half of
jabbing one another, Olivo took the second by brute force, via her big
right. In the third, Olivo’s sloppy rights struck pockets of wind
resistance or went wide, exploding on McCarter’s back. McCarter showed
total control, but obliged Olivo to slug it out in the fourth, weighing
her pinpoint-accurate punches against Olivo’s bombs in a close round.
The fifth was Olivo’s first decisive round while McCarter took the
round off. The New Yorker mixed up her rights upstairs with an
occasional body attack. The sixth was another close round, McCarter
making Olivo miss—but those that did land, landed hard. It was more of
the same in the seventh, but with McCarter doing even less against
Olivo’s attacks. In the final stanza, McCarter picked up the pace and
took back control of the fight—but, at least on one card, it wasn’t
enough for a win. Judges were mixed, 76-76 even and 78-75, 77-75,
giving McCarter the win by majority decision." McCarter
improved her record to 25-13-5 (5 KO's) while Olivo fell to 4-2 (0
On November 2, 2007 at SkyCity, in
Auckland, New Zealand
Layla (141 lbs) won a six-round unanimous (60-54 x 3) decision over New
Zealand's undefeated Daniella
Smith (147 lbs). McCarter stepped up to
welterweight in order to fight Smith, and delivered the New Zealander
her first loss as a pro in what the 35-year-old Smith had stated would
he her last pro bout. McCarter improved to 26-13-5
(5 KOs) while Smith
5-1-0 (0 KOs).
On November 10, 2007 at
the Sky Ute Casino, in Ignacio, Colorado Layla (134¼ lbs) TKO'd
35-year-old Tammy Franks (133½ lbs) of San Antonio, Texas at 0:44 in
the third round of a scheduled six-rounder. Franks fell to
2-3-0 (0 KOs).
Cindy Serrano trades with Layla in January 2008
© Copyrighted photo by Lori Steinhorst
On January 11, 2008 at the Orleans
Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Layla (133 lbs) won a six round
unanimous decision over
(133½ lbs) of Queen's, New York. According
to WBAN contributor Lori Steinhorst, "Delivering on the
promise to make it a great fight, McCarter made easy work of Serrano,
who, by the way, is no slouch. This just happened to be a ballroom
dance and McCarter took the lead. With some fancy footwork and a dance
that Serrano wasn't familiar with McCarter took Serrano to school. It
was obvious early in the 4th round that Serrano lacked the experience
to keep up with McCarter. While Serrano was no match for the much more
experienced McCarter, there was no lack of heart or skill. Serrano is a
warrior who came in focused and determined to put every ounce of energy
she could muster. McCarter was well-prepared and equally as focused."
Serrano fell to 15-2-1 (7 KO's) with her
second straight pro loss while McCarter improved to 28-13-5 (6 KO's). For more fight and weighin
photos by Lori Steinhorst, see Photo Gallery #464 on
Records Member Site.
On March 7, 2008 at the Orleans
Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Layla (135 lbs) TKO'd Dominga
Olivo (134 lbs) of New York in the sixth round
of a scheduled ten-rounder (3-min rounds) for the GBU Lightweight
title. Olivo was down twice in the second
round, once in the third, and the fight was stopped in the sixth round.
McCarter improved to 29-13-5 (7 KO's) while
Olivo fell to
On March 28, 2008 at the Shaw Conference Centre in
Edmonton, Layla (132.6 lbs) won a 10-round split decision over Jelena Mrdjenovich (134.8
lbs) of Edmonton. McCarter was defending her WBA Lightweight
title. Final judges' scores were 96-94, 96-94, and 94-96. Mrdjenovich was cut on the lip, then the nose and
then a large gash on the right side of her face. While McCarter
appeared to be in control -- especially in the early rounds -- she
could feel the momentum shifting. "I thought I dominated the
first five rounds." she said, "but then I let the
tide turn. The second half of the fight was so close. It was hard to
call. I was nervous." Once again, home-standing
Team Mrdjenovich complained about the officiating. Seems that,
according to them, Mrdjenovich, who has rarely fought away from home,
simply can't get a break there against good opponents. Mrdjenovich's
trainer Milan Lubovac blamed the loss on "lousy refereeing.
You can't get a good decision in this city." Asked about the
decision, Mrdjenovich said "I'm disappointed. But I'm not
surprised in Edmonton." (Before the fight, WBAN had ranked
McCarter #3 at lightweight, and Mrdjenovich #4.)
On August 15, 2008 at
the Orleans Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, Layla (133
lbs) won a 10-round (3min) unanimous decision over Loly Munoz (133 lbs)
of Barcelona, Spain. The judges' scores were 100-90, 97-93, and
98-92. Munoz fell to 8-5-1 (5 KO's),
Emiko Raika vs Layla McCarter in July 2009
© Copyrighted photograph by Mary Ann Owen
July 3, 2009 at South Point Hotel Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada
Layla McCarter (135 lbs) won a hard-fought but clear 10-round unanimous
(100-90 x 3) decision in a rematch with Emiko "Fujin" Raika (134 lbs)
of Japan for the WBA lightweight title. For more fight photos by Lori
Steinhorst and Mary Ann Owen, see Photo Gallery #505 on
Records Member Site. while Raika fell to 18-6-1 (6 KO's).
On February 12, 2011, at Sky Ute
Casino in Ignacio, Colorado Layla returned
to action and moved up in weight to 147½ lbs to
six-round unanimous (60-53,60-53,59-54) decision over junior
middleweight Cimberly Harris (5'6", 151½ lbs) of Tampa,
Florida, who fell to 5-16 (0 KO's) with the loss. Layla
used her superior punching speed and ring savvy against a
bigger but slower-handed opponent.
Gerardo Martinez reported
that "McCarter showed her skill and
speed from the beginning and never allowed the rugged Harris a chance
to get into the fight. McCarter was able to move away from the rushes
of punches that Harris came at her with and connect with precise
counter punches from all angles throughout the contest." The
action was interrupted when McCarter was cut over her right eye in the
final round but fought even more aggressively when the bout
resumed after a timeout while the injury was checked by the ring
doctor. [Fight Video]
August 13, 2011 at the Sky Ute Casino in Ignacio, Colorado,
in the main event of a mixed MMA/boxing card Layla (138¾ lbs) won an eight-round
unanimous decision over Belinda
Laracuente (137¾ lbs) of New York City.
Referee Stephen Blea from Denver said of the fight
"Those two women gave
fight fans in Ignacio one of the best matches I've ever personally
experienced. Not one of the best women's matches, but one of the best
matches PERIOD I've ever witnessed. A solid performance that should
have fight fans that were in atttendance appreciative of what boxing is
all about." Laracuente fell to 25-26-3 (9 KO's).
On September 30, 2012 at the
Orient Theatre in East London, Eastern Cape, South Africa, Layla
McCarter bulked up to 148¼ lbs to take on undefeated local
favorite Noni Tenge (148¼ lbs) of Mdantsane, Eastern Cape, South Africa
in a ten-rounder for the vacant WBA Junior Middleweight title.
McCarter TKO'd the less experienced Tenge in the eighth round to take a
world title in her fourth different weight class. Layla
improved her record to 35-13-5
(8 KO's) as Tenge, a former IBF Welterweight champion, fell to 11-1-1 (9 KO's). Prior to the
fight, McCarter stated that “I
can’t get a fight in my own country so I’ll go somewhere
else. It doesn’t bother me.” Neither,
apparently did fighting for a world title in another hemisphere as much
as 12 lbs over her walking around weight.
October 1 2012 WBAN named Layla McCarter its Fighter of the Month for
traveling to South Africa to take on Tenge for the WBA junior
"Two of my early losses were split
decisions on someone else's home turf, and the
two more were because I lacked
motivation and had no peace of mind," Layla recounted when she first became a world champion. "When
I moved to Vegas to put my career back on track I felt pretty down,
but I knew in my heart I could succeed. Now, thanks to Luis (Tapia)’s
training and management, and my own hard work, I’m a motivated
and confident fighter."
Layla summed up her approach to making fights as: "A
lot of women just pick the easy
route. Why not just fight if you're gonna fight? ... I'm ready to go. I
don't duck anybody,
just the punches."
Layla lived in many places - including Corvallis,
Oregon, Englewood, Colorado, Clay Center, Kansas, Solomon, Kansas,
Boise, Idaho, Mission Viejo, California, and Spokane, Washington -
before moving to to Las Vegas. She lived with her
mother, her older sister and her brother until age 17.
Her mother Melinda is one of
her biggest supporters, but she told me that she was very
concerned when Layla first moved from kickboxing to boxing. "It's
not something you tell your 17 year old baby girl ... go
ahead, honey, get punched around", she says. But she
eventually began to understand that this was Layla's passion and to
realize that her daughter was exceptionally good at it!
"I no longer worry that she can't make a
living at this sport, and
she seems to be tough enough to take the punches, or better still quick
enough to duck them. I can't tell you now how
proud I am of her, and the spirit it took for her to accomplish this."
Wherever Layla goes, spectators not only recognize
her talent, but her winning smile and personality shine through as
well. Humble and child-like by nature, she is still pleased when the
crowd starts chanting, "Layla, Layla, Layla!" As her
manager states, "Wherever we go, everybody loves Layla
(except maybe her opponents, of course). She is one in a million!"
To reach Layla,
Luis Tapia, Championship, Inc. DBA,
Johnny Tocco’s Boxing Gym,
4535 W. Sahara Suite 105,
Las Vegas, NV 89102
Cell Phone: (702)-812-1782
Layla McCarter Links
out fight reports, complete up-to-date boxing records, with huge
digital photos you can go to
the WBAN Records
Page last updated:
Monday October 1. 2012