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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 Thai kickboxing.

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 Northwest and 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 by a four-round unanimous decision over lightweight Deshaun Mohammed of Aurora, 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, Washington, Margaret McGregor 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 (126 lbs) of Bremerton, Washington moved her pro boxing record to 2-0 with a four-round decision over Layla (129 lbs), who was now 1-3.

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 Tampa, Florida to a four-round draw in a featherweight bout. Hudgins was 3-0-2 after this bout.

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) decision over 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 not agree with the shutout that two judges awarded to Serrano in this fight!

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, and the promoter said he was going to give me the money anyway, but he never did."

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 lbs) 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 (122 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 (125 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 belt.

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 throughout, Yard was frequently beaten to the punch and McCarter exhibited surprising skills as she darted in and out, flashing multiple combinations then retreating out of 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 21 years old."

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," she told Molly Brown. "I wanted to quit after the third round. I had a cramp, 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 butter."

"I admire Sandy Yard for everything she’s done," said 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 1996/7 New 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 third round. Salamone 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 123 lbs and defended the IFBA Featherweight title against southpaw challenger JoJo Wyman (5'4", 124 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 rematch between these two top-flight featherweights to clear the air after this oddly-scored result!

On July 7, 2001 at Sky Ute Casino in Ignacio, Colorado, Layla weighed in at 125 lbs and retained the IFBA belt with a 10-round unanimous decision over IFBA Intercontinental Junior Lightweight champion Tracy Byrd (5'4", 125 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).

Jessica Rakoczy vs. Layla McCarterOn 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 here).

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 Emiko 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 (122 lbs) of Japan, whose record fell to 7-3-1 (3 KOs).

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 Velez 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 (125 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 majority (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. "She's 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 fight.

On February 15, 2003 at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada, Layla (131 lbs) won a six-round majority (58-56,58-56,57-57) 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 rounds, apart 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 six-round 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 the WBAN Records Member Site for more fight photos.

Layla rocks Claudia Valenciana!
Copyrighted photo taken by Mary Ann Owen

On June 14, 2003 at Stratosphere Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, Layla moved up in weight to 139 lbs and won a clear six- round unanimous (59-53,60-52,60-52) decision over Claudia Valenciana Duffer of Oxnard, California (143 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 the WBAN Records Member Site for more photos.

On October 4, 2003 at Northern Lights Casino in Anacortes, Washington, Layla (137 lbs) won a clear ten-round unanimous (100-89,98-92,98-92) decision over Lisa Holewyne (5'8", 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 report]

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 (140 lbs).  Sanders improved to 8-0.

vs. Chevelle Hallback in July 2004
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, Chevelle Hallback, 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 KO).  See Photo Gallery #186 on the WBAN Records Member Site for more photos by Tony Duffy.

On February 12, 2005, at the Ramada Inn City Centre in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Layla  (133 lbs) handed home town favorite Jelena Mrdjenovich (132 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).

On 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 (129 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. 

"I 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."

Team 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.

After 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 girls". 

On April 1, 2006 at the Sky Ute Casino in Ignacio, Colorado, Layla returned to the ring at 141 lbs and in an action-packed crowd-pleasing bout won a six-round unanimous (58-55,59-56,60-54) decision over Victoria Cisneros (146 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 fight 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 Photo Gallery #367 on the WBAN Records Member Site for more photos of this bout. Pennybaker fell to 9-6-1 (2 KOs).

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 boxer.  See 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 (133 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 Member Site

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 (133 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.”  After 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 Photo Gallery #407 on the WBAN Records Member Site.  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 (133 lbs) this time taking the GBU Lightweight title away from the home-town favorite by an eight-round majority decision. According to a WBAN report 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 minutes." 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 Angel Martinez (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 reported 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 KO's).

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 fell to 5-1-0 (0 KOs).

On November 10, 2007 at the Sky Ute Casino, in Ignacio, Colorado Layla (134 lbs) TKO'd 35-year-old Tammy Franks (133 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 Cindy Serrano (133 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 the WBAN 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 5-3-1 (0 KOs) .

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

On 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 the WBAN 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 147 lbs to win a six-round unanimous (60-53,60-53,59-54) decision over junior middleweight Cimberly Harris (5'6", 151 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] [Photos]

On August 13, 2011 at the Sky Ute Casino in Ignacio, Colorado,
in the main event of a mixed MMA/boxing card Layla (
138 lbs) won an eight-round unanimous decision over Belinda Laracuente (137 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 148 lbs to take on undefeated local favorite Noni Tenge (148 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.  

On 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 middleweight title.  

"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.

Layla McCarterHer 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, contact:

Luis Tapia, Championship, Inc. DBA,
Johnny Tocco’s Boxing Gym,
4535 W. Sahara Suite 105,
Las Vegas, NV 89102

Cell Phone: (702)-812-1782
Gym: (702)-383-8651
FAX: (702)-369-7480

More Layla McCarter Links

To check out fight reports, complete up-to-date boxing records, with huge digital photos you can go to the WBAN Records Member Site

Page last updated:  Monday October 1. 2012


WBAN Boxer Bio by Dee Williams





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