A relentless Jessica McCaskill retained her undisputed world welterweight title with a unanimous points victory in her rematch with former champion Cecilia Braekhus in Dallas on Saturday night.
McCaskill had dethroned Braekhus last August via a debatable majority decision in Tulsa, but on this occasion the verdict was more clearcut. Indeed, the judges saw it as almost one-way traffic, one making it a 100-89 shutout, and the others scored it 99-90 and 98-91. Boxing Social went 96-93 to McCaskill.
From the opening round, the Chicago-based fighter was on the attack, having repeated success with overhand rights and consistently pushing Braekhus backwards and thwarting the Norwegian’s attempts to box and move.
McCaskill seemed to hurt Braekhus in rounds one and two with big rights and opened up an early lead, clearly winning the first four rounds as the former champion struggled to gain a foothold and was bullied around the ring.
Gradually, Braekhus found her rhythm, got her jab working and began to time her counters, shading the fifth and the sixth with the cleaner work.
However, just as Braekhus was beginning to rally, the referee deducted a point from her for holding in the seventh, a decision which seemed harsh, and which stalled her momentum in a round she otherwise appeared to be edging.
Although Braekhus by now was scoring with some clean shots, McCaskill never stopped moving forward and acting as the aggressor, and when the two women exchanged up close, she always looked the stronger and more composed.
“It’s not working on the inside,” Braekhus’s trainer Abel Sanchez told her ahead of the ninth round, and that was the story of the fight.
The eighth, ninth and tenth were tight rounds and, before the final stanza, McCaskill’s trainer Rick Ramos told his charge: “You want to change your life? Now’s the time to do it.”
Such was the lopsided nature of the scorecards, McCaskill – in retrospect – did not need to win the tenth, which was an untidy conclusion to an otherwise absorbing contest which provided more satisfying action than the first meeting.
Compubox punch stats clearly backed up the case for a McCaskill victory, showing her outlanding Braekhus 131-94 and scoring with more shots in seven of the ten rounds.
After the fight an elated McCaskill – now 10-2 (3 KOs) – paid tribute to Braekhus’ gameness, while also looking to the future and some potentially huge fights: “I was very happy about it. She’s a tough broad I told her that in the ring. She ate every punch I put on her face. If Katie Taylor’s the next one, let’s go. If Claressa [Shields] wants to come down to 147…”
The future for Braekhus – now 36-2 (9 KOs) appears less clearcut, although the Norwegian indicated a desire to keep fighting.
“It was a close fight,” she said. “McCaskill’s a tough woman. I congratulate her. I say to Jessica meet me at 147 which is the welterweight division. [This fight and the previous were fought at a 145lbs catchweight].
“I love boxing and if there is a good fight out there for me I’ll take it. I’m going on a week’s vacation and then I’m back in the gym. Jessica is more busted up than I am.”
Main image: Melina Pizano/Matchroom Boxing USA.