First, they say.
The last thing a lady wants to do is open doors for a man unexpected to return the favor. Depending on a view of chivalry, that just might seem chauvinistic. And so it is, the middleweight division's gold standard and reigning WBC champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (37-0-1, 33KOs) figuratively raced ahead of her to unlock a missing key.
“Why thank you, Sir,” offers an imaginary Cecilia Braekhus (32-0, 9KOs), the “First Lady” of women's boxing who looks like the other half of a king. She's not necessarily a “Body Issue” found on newsstands, but a boxing issue standing right in front of you.
In light of yellow maggots in #MAGA# hats extolling the virtues of optional slavery, a special female co-headliner being taxied to the classy red carpet of an HBO women's boxing premiere (HBO Boxing, LIVE from the StubHub Center in Carson, CA @10PM/ET) by arguably the greatest middleweight of all-time is fitting. “We shouldn't spend too much time talking about it,” said Golovkin, regarding a suspended in air rematch with Canelo Alvarez on September 15. There are those, however, who wouldn't want to spend much time discussing the blatant inequality of women in boxing.
When you're writing a book on life called “Art Official” as an over-caffeinated boxing writer, there's a calming effect in knowing that a woman isn't regarded as a mere artificial sweetener in pink and blue packets to be discarded in fancy diners. This Cinco de Mayo won't feature a Mexican brand (unless you're a fan of Tecate), rather, a titan from Kazakhstan who fights like Genghis Khan, and a woman from Norway who fights like a Viking.
Not just any woman… The Best Ever.
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For women, sometimes the best way to forget all of her trouble is to wear tight shoes. For a man, sometimes the best way to forget all of his trouble is for her to wear tight clothes. If the shoe fits… In the case for Braekhus, none of this matters, for the best way for her to forget all of her troubles is to obsess over whatever she's having trouble with as a fighter. In analyzing her style from the perspective of a man, she fights like Bernard Hopkins with the mentality of Mikey Garcia.
Originally from Colombia, Braekhus (32-0, 9KOs) joining forces to train with the legendary Lucia Rijker is like a boxing version of Zoe Saldana's character from “Columbiana” hooking up with Scarlett Johansson's “Lucy”. None of this can be good for Kali Reis (13-6-1, 4KOs), as the glamorous WBC/WBA welterweight champion makes her 22nd defense of the titles she's held with an iron glove since 2009.
For the hell of it, she added the IBF belt in 2016, making her the sport's only female undisputed champion in boxing. In possession of a rare charisma while oozing a can't-miss appeal, Braekhus is a megastar in Norway and all over Europe, routinely filling up stadiums in a sport where the average fan in New York City sees WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder as a New York Knick. After breaking Reis, Braekhus, no where close to a zenith at a spectacular 36 years old, has made no secret that she wants a superfight with legendary MMA badass Cris “Cyborg” Justino, in what would be a women's version of Floyd Mayweather V Conor McGregor. When you're the “Network of Champions” and Peter Nelson is the visionary VP of Sports, you sign Braekhus for fights like that and the potential to open the floodgates for women.
For every Christy Martin that became Heather Hardy and every Holly Holm that became Amanda Serrano, Cecilia Braekhus can become an iteration of Laila Ali with the warrior's spirit of Ann Wolfe. It's not even out of the realm of possibilities that she'd get a call to be in the next installment of Wonder Woman. If her superstar shines bright enough, it would be hard to miss the glare of up and coming stars like Claressa Shields, Katie Taylor and Mikaela Mayer. What's more, is that in the true altruistic grace of universal sportsmanship, Braekhus embraces the opportunity to exalt women's boxing to unseen heights.
“All around the world, women are filling up stadiums, having main fights, and being shown all over,” Braekhus told espnW. “Normally, America is way ahead, and the rest of the world is following U.S. trends, but this is the opposite. Why it's taken so long, I don't have the explanation for that, but it's definitely about time.”
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I whined about this card after the cancellation of Golovkin V Canelo II, leaving Las Vegas like an arrogant teen and petulantly dismissing the affair altogether. This independent media journalist still has too much attachment to fandom, and a random betrayal of the integrity it takes to put these events together. As a lover of history, she's now scolding me for deciding to not be part of a unique new chapter.
Adding Braekhus to this event changes the global dynamics, as does the symbolic unveiling of a gorgeous new blue and green WBC super belt, which seems to almost annex Mexico and Kazakhstan. Initially, this belt was originally created for the winner of Golovkin V Canelo II. But with late sub Vanes Martirosyan (36-3-1, 21KOs) vying for the belt, the only suspense is when Triple G will win. Golovkin, basically David Banner needing to find his inner Incredible Hulk again after a disastrous 2017 by his standards, is going to turn Martirosyan into a burnt marshmallow and launch his ass to Mars in about five rounds. It will mark his 20th successful defense to tie the aforementioned Hopkins, as GGG continues his ascent among the pantheon of the greats.
Still behind Braekhus in more figurative ways than one, Golovkin is likely to repeat a class act that accompanied the opening after the stars make opposers fall. “Ladies first,” said the champ.
“Why thank you, Sir.”