Boxing is an easy sport to get annoyed with but it's also one that's easy to embrace, when you watch a fight featuring a tough cookie like Jessica McCaskill, who battled through hard hurdles as a kid, persevered, and got rewarded with a considerable upset win on Saturday night in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
McCaskill, who has a youthful face, is 35 years old, but still remembers searingly well the feeling of falling in between the cracks at age 8. Her great aunt, who she called “Mom,” got evicted and so the fourth grader was living for a spell in the back of a church.
On Saturday, Jessica gave fight fans a lesson on keeping at it, and praise be, the judges played it straight, after twelve rounds against Cecilia Braekhus.
The 38 year old Braekhus spoke after of maybe leaving the sport, but she came in 36-0, and liking the feature slot on DAZN. Born in Colombia, raised and living in Norway, Braekhus got ink for getting to Joe Louis territory for number of title defenses, but McCaskill wasn't overly impressed.
Here is the release DAZN sent out:
TULSA (August 15, 2020) – Jessica McCaskill put the boxing world on notice as she claimed the undisputed crown from Cecilia Brækhus in a thrilling upset from the streets of downtown Tulsa and live on DAZN. At stake for Brækhus was shattering boxing’s most prestigious record – 25 consecutive world title defenses – one that she now holds with heavyweight legend Joe Louis.
The former unified super lightweight champion McCaskill (9-2, 3 KOs) edged out a majority decision victory over Brækhus (36-1, 9 KOs) in one of the biggest upsets in boxing this year. McCaskill was the far busier fighter throughout the 10-round title tilt, throwing 230 more punches than the decade-long welterweight ruler.
In the evening’s co-feature, Uzbekistan’s Israil Madrimov (6-0, 5 KOs) went the distance for the first time in his professional career, earning a unanimous decision victory against a game Eric Walker (20-3, 8 KOs). Madrimov landed nearly 40% of his punches and scored a stunning knockdown in the 9th round, which was ultimately ruled a slip by referee Gary Ritter. His fellow countryman Shakhram Giyasov (10-0, 8 KOs) scored a rousing knockout over Wiston Campos (31-8-6,19 KOs) with a devastating left hand to the body at the end of the 3rd round.
Matchroom’s standout prospects – Nikita Ababiy (9-0, 6 KOs), and Raymond Ford (6-0 2 KOs) – extended their undefeated records with unanimous decision victories. Ababiy bested a tough Jarvis Williams (8-3-1, 5 KOs) while Ford routed veteran Eric Manriquez (7-11-1, 3 KOs).
On the scorecards: “I was thinking that it takes a lot to take the belts away from the champion. 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.”
On this moment in her life: “Well my coach said to me a couple of days ago, ‘Hey, this fight – fight for you.’ So this is for the fourth grader, homeless Jessica. This is for the little girl who just didn’t care what people thought about her and just learned to love herself even though she was really weird. This is for the me now, the one who sacrifices everything to put this sport first and to make a difference. That’s what that fight was about.”
On what she’s going to do to celebrate: “I’m going to take a Covid test. Then celebrate with the team and the gym that has been with me through quarantine and before. Those gals and guys hold me together. A few people drove from Chicago to Oklahoma to be here, how crazy is that? So we are going to have a nice dinner, real chill. I can’t wait to go see my dogs and my mom back at home. Mom, I love you. Thank you.”
On what the difference was tonight: “I just didn’t stop. I didn’t expect her to be as rough as she was but I was ready to be as rough as I had to be. It was a lot like McCaskill-Taylor I, looking for that McCaskill-Taylor II now. It’s just throwing when she’s holding, moving when you have to. Shout out to CompuBox, women’s never get a punch count. I threw 230 more punches than her, that shows you that I wanted it.”
Taylor-Persoon II prediction: “I don’t know. I think Katie really underestimated her last time. I was looking back at some of the pictures that DAZN posted and gosh, she was bloody everywhere. I hope she’s more disciplined in her skills this time and comes out with the win because I want to be the one who beats her.”
On snapping Cecilia’s defense streak: “I’m not surprised. I am the one who likes to upset the party. A lot of times when they call out the card, I am very chill, and when I win, I celebrate. I am not worried, I am not iffy. I am just waiting for that ‘and new!’”
On her performance: “I don’t want to talk about that right now. I want to congratulate Jessica, she really wanted it. She did a great match. I am proud and happy to pass the torch to her. 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 will be my biggest achievement.”
On why she lost tonight: “Jessica just threw more punches and really, really wanted it. I am not going to say anything more. I am just going to congratulate her. Take good care of those belts.”
On if she’ll retire: “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.”
On his performance: “The fight was tougher than I expected to be honest. I think that there was a knockout in the 9th round. I landed that punch clean but unfortunately it didn’t count. The fight was tough. I knew that he was a very experienced and tough opponent but we took this fight on too short notice. But that’s a learning experience. I needed this fight, it was my first time every going 12 rounds. I will be honest, I felt great at moments. If I would have boxed from earlier on instead of looking for the knockout, it would have been an easier fight.”
On his fatigue: “I will be honest, I was a little bit tired in the middle rounds but I felt I landed good shots on him and he was taking them. I decided to wait a little bit to get my strength back, I knew it would come back in a round. It was fatigue but it was also a plan. I felt that I needed to keep my stamina because it seemed like we were going the distance.”
On his performance: “He was definitely tough. The last time I was in the ring was like eight months ago so I had some rust. This Coronavirus and the training, I was actually 20 lbs. over three weeks ago so I had a quick training camp. But I give Jarvis a lot of credit, I was hitting him with some shots and he wasn’t falling. He’s a strong veteran.”
On his weight cut: “I went on a strict, strict diet. I never skipped sugar a day in my life but for this training camp, it’s been like three weeks! It was hell. I also went through a ton of other stuff besides the Coronavirus but there’s no excuses.”
On fighting at 154: “Of course. I am still growing. I feel like I don’t have my ‘man power’ yet. I feel like I get stronger every single week. But definitely, if it’s for a world title, I will be at 154.”
On the knockout: “I’ll be honest, I felt his liver by my knuckles and I didn’t expect him to get up. The expression on his face after landing clean, I didn’t think he would get up”
On his title aspirations: “It is really hard to be away from my family and friends but I know what I am doing. I have a dream, I have big goals. I want all the belts in the super lightweight division. Whoever has the belts, I am coming in your direction. I am always ready (for a title shot). I will talk to management and my promoter, and when they say it’s time to fight for a title, I will do it. I am like a soldier, give me an order and I will go for it.”
On getting the victory: “It feels good to be back again but it took me a while to warm up. It wasn’t my best performance. I know I can do way better. He was falling back trying to counter me so I had to be cautious. I had to be smart and not get hit with any clean, dumb shots.”
On his performance: “I rate my performance a B-. I know when I watch the fight, I will be pissed off at myself. This was about getting my feet wet though, it’s been eight months since I have been in the ring. I had to get used to being back in the ring again with 8 oz. gloves and no headgear. It was ring rust. As the fight went on, I started picking it up in the 6th round and started letting my hands go a little bit more. I did drop him with that one punch but I didn’t think he was hurt. I would have most definitely broke him if I had more rounds. He was breaking down. I touched him to the body a few times and he wasn’t punching back. I knew I was winning the fight though so I had to be smart.”
On learning from Canelo: “I love the way he places his punches and his shot selection. He knows how to throw every punch and sits down so well on his punches.”
10-Round Undisputed Welterweight Title Bout @ 147 lbs.
Jessica McCaskill (9-2, 3 KOs) defeats Cecilia Brækhus (36-1, 9 KOs) by majority decision (95-95, 97-93, 97-94).
12-Round WBA World Super Welterweight Title Bout @ 154 lbs.
Israil Madrimov (6-0, 5 KOs) defeats Eric Walker (20-3, 8 KOs) by unanimous decision (116-110 x2, 116-111).
6-Round Middleweight Bout @ 160 lbs.
Nikita Ababiy (9-0, 6 KOs) defeats Jarvis Williams (8-3-1, 5 KOs) by unanimous decision (59-55 x2, 58-56).
10-Round Super Lightweight Bout @ 142 lbs. (Catchweight)
Shakhram Giyasov (10-0, 8 KOs) defeats Wiston Campos (31-8-6,19 KOs) by KO at the end of Round 3.
6-Round Featherweight Bout @ 126 lbs.
Raymond Ford (6-0, 2 KOs) defeats Eric Manriquez (7-11-1, 3 KOs) by unanimous decision (60-53 x2, 59-54).
Boxing on DAZN returns next Saturday, August 22, live from Matchroom’s HQ in Essex, England, with the conclusion of Fight Camp. In the main event, two top 10 heavyweights – Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin – will battle for the chance to become the mandatory challenger for the WBC world title strap held by Tyson Fury. In the co-main event, undefeated and undisputed world lightweight champion Katie Taylor will meet Delfine Persoon in a rematch of their June 2019 all-action battle. Action begins on DAZN at 2 p.m. ET.