By Eric Coronado Jr.: Let me open by stating outright that last night’s main event on DAZN was a bit of a dud. Cecilia Braekhus (36-1-0) and Jessica McCaskill’s (9-2-0) fighting styles are not complimentary of one another, and McCaskill’s constant ducking her head and bull-rushing lead to Braekhus repeatedly leaning on and holding her opponent.
Following Harper and Jonas’s battle last weekend and preceding the highly anticipated rematch of Taylor and Persoon, it left much to be desired.
McCaskill started hard and landed some heavy blows in the early rounds, which quickly marked up Braekhus’s face, while The First Lady seemed to finally arrive in the ring midway through the fight. In the later rounds, Braekhus did a better job of letting her hands go, but it appeared to be too little too late.
Viewers were quick to notice that normally astute trainer Abel Sanchez didn’t seem to push Braekhus to stick the jab and keep McCaskill at a distance as she owned the advantage inside.
The decision has also been heavily debated as many believe that Braekhus did enough to pull out a win, while others agree that McCaskill’s aggression and grit in making the literal street fight a figurative one as well as what won the night.
Though Braekhus looked overwhelmed and aged at times and eventually came up short, her class in receiving her first loss was something to behold. She refused to make excuses and instead redirected any attempt at eliciting a response about “what went wrong” towards congratulations for her opponent.
At thirty-eight years old, we may very well have seen the last of The First Lady in the ring, and her post-fight interview echoed her previous assertion that her retirement was looming. She was all smiles following her first loss but was also on the verge of tears as she discussed passing the torch to the next generation of women boxers.
Much has been said of Braekhus’s beginnings as a boxer how she’d sneak down a fire escape to train in a time when women boxers were frowned upon. How professional boxing was illegal in Norway, and how Braekhus was central to its return to the country.
Boxing is an androcentric sport, yet women have been steadily asserting themselves and carving out a place in a sport that runs counter to many of the stereotypes that we’ve been conditioned to apply to women. Braekhus was fighting this fight for women’s combat sports since before it became a mainstream issue.
In her humbling interview, standing at a literal crossroads in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma, Braekhus spoke about the future of women’s boxing and her passing of the torch. Jessica McCaskill earned Braekhus’s belts last night, but it wasn’t about the belts. It wasn’t even about McCaskill, who is just three years younger than Braekhus.
Maybe it wasn’t even about the Katie Taylors or Amanda Serranos out there. They are doing the same work that she has been doing for almost fifteen years, and Braekhus mentioned that she is proud to be part of that group of women.
But I think that she passed the torch to the next young girl who takes up an interest in boxing but doesn’t have to sneak down a fire escape to go train because her parents have seen that women can be successful boxers.
Maybe she passed the torch to a little girl watching two powerful women go head to head, blow for blow on T.V. during the main event of a card where all of the fights prior were men fighting men.
Maybe she passed the torch to any woman who has a dream that is so obscure, so seemingly impossible and out of reach that nobody would expect you to follow through, or fault you for not, yet you do it anyway.
The First Lady. What a champion. What a woman.