“And the new!!!”
Those three words are what many young fighters aspire to hear someday when they step into the ring to fight. On Saturday, those words came for someone who has won world titles before, but now it has a lot more meaning to it.
Jessica McCaskill (9-2, 3 KOs) became the first fighter to defeat Cecilia Brækhus (36-1, 9 KOs) by scoring a majority decision win in Tulsa Oklahoma. She ended the streak that Brækhus had of 25 consecutive defenses of the WBC welterweight title which started in 2009. McCaskill was able to move up from super lightweight to capture the undisputed welterweight championship after defending the unified titles at super lightweight against Erica Farias last October.
It was a battle in the trenches from the start as McCaskill wanted to take the fight to Brækhus and she went straight for the long-reigning champion, not giving her time to be at a distance to use her jab. Once McCaskill got to the inside she threw three or four punches at a time before the referee could separate the two fighters. It was like that for the first half of the fight until Brækhus got enough space to use her jab. When Brækhus did get it going, it looked like she had the momentum after the eighth round but then McCaskill went back to getting up close and took the fight to Brækhus for the last two rounds. As a result it got her the nod on two scorecards which was enough to award her the welterweight titles.
McCaskill was nervous as the cards were read until they announced her as the winner. “I was thinking that it takes a lot to take the belts away from the champion,” McCaskill said. “I kept saying, ‘and new, and new, and new’ in my head. When I am back in the gym, that’s all I’m saying and that’s what happened.”
The effort by McCaskill over the course of the fight was the difference as she threw a total of 499 punches while Brækhus threw 269 punches.
“Shout out to CompuBox, women’s boxing never get a punch count.” McCaskill said. “I threw 230 more punches than her, that shows you that I wanted it.”
For Brækhus, her first loss comes after being undefeated for over 13 years. She didn’t talk much about what she did on Saturday, but what her opponent did for the win.
“I want to congratulate Jessica, she really wanted it,” “She fought a great fight. I am proud and happy to pass the torch to her.”
It seemed like a time of reflection for the Norwegian after the loss to McCaskill as she thought about how long she has been a champion and her contribution to the sport of boxing.
“I have to say, I am so proud to be part of women’s boxing right now. If this is my last fight, I am proud that I was part of taking women’s boxing to this level.”
That last sentence hinted that Brækhus would retire after the loss and she feels that she has contributed enough to the sport to walk away if that is on the table.
“I’ve done so much. I miss my friends and family. Women’s boxing is in such a good place right now – they will be fine without me.”