Ahead of their undisputed female welterweight championship this weekend on DAZN I have decided to re-watch their initial 2020 fight from Tulsa, Oklahoma USA. Braekhus entered as the undisputed female welterweight champion holding all four titles and gunning to pass Joe Louis and his twenty-five title defenses. McCaskill entered as the underdog though she held titles at junior welterweight and was a title challenger at light weight. The contest was close and controversial and with Clarissa Shields making her call outs this fight has a new feel of importance. This is how I saw the fight:
|Cecilia Braekhus Champion||10||9||9||9||9||9||9||10||10||10||94|
|Jessica McCaskill Challenger||9||10||10||10||10||10||10||9||9||9||96|
Round 1: Close round, McCaskill was coming forward in the round and pressing the action but her punches were not very crisp.
Round 2: McCaskill was all over Braekhus in this round. The last twenty seconds for McCaskill were very effective. McCaskill scored with short range left hooks and overhand rights and ducked underneath any of Braekhus’s returns.
Round 4: McCaskill was very square in her stance and leaving herself open while pressing the action. McCaskill landed short blows but was not able to create leverage on her punches to hurt or wobble Braekhus despite her constant scoring. She was too close to Braekhus for Braekhus to land effectively with power shots in return. McCaskill often avoided blows by bending at the waist down low and getting her chin out of danger.
Round 5: Close round but capped off with McCaskill getting enough room to get leverage on a right hand that snapped Braekhus’s head back.
Round 6: McCaskill fought at more of a range in this round. Range favored Braekhus who is the classier and more talented boxer but McCaskill was able to get more extension on her shots. Braekhus worked to time and slow down McCaskill but she still was not effective enough offensively in this round.
Round 8: McCaskill’s early assault that has worked its way through the middle rounds has faded significantly. Now that McCaskill has slowed just enough and the fight has started to occur more at range the action has begun to favor Braekhus. Braekhus scored effectively in this round behind a jab and her right cross to the head was accurate.
Round 9: McCaskill got stuck at range several times in this round where she tried to bob and weave her way in but was still frozen out in no man’s land. The charges and defense through ducking low was not as effective at this point in the fight. Braekhus stood back and let McCaskill duck down and stop and in those moments of space she hung back and scored on a stationary McCaskill.
Round 10: McCaskill was aggressive in this round to fight hard to the finish but her intensity was matched by the champion’s class. Braekhus countered and jabbed to the finish line and appeared to carry the round.
Final: My score was 96-94 with the official scores 95-95 and 97-93 and 97-94
Analysis: My score was right between the official cards at six rounds to four with one judge going five to five with another going seven to three with another going six to three with one even. I do not like to quote statistics to judge a full fight but Braekhus did outland McCaskill by one punch but was out thrown by two hundred and thirty punches. McCaskill was busier over the ten rounds but Braekhus was more accurate with her punches. I feel this fight resembled a lot of contests where the better boxer lost out to a younger and hungrier fighter and has similarities to Bernard Hopkins losing to Jermaine Taylor and Vasiliy Lomachenko losing to Teofimo Lopez . The younger challenger came out early and won on activity and pressure while the classier boxing champion hung back and surged late to just come up shy on the scores. While this fight was somewhat controversial I feel McCaskill fairly won the fight but I am skeptical of her winning a rematch.
This was a tale of two fights in my view with McCaskill coming out and winning the early rounds before Braekhus settled in and took over down the stretch. My questions entering their rematch are did Braekhus underestimate McCaskill and/or was effected by COVID-19? Did McCaskill tire enough to let Braekhus take over and let her climb back into the fight? I feel it is possible that Braekhus underestimated her opponent by way of her falling in and early hole and losing the early rounds. Did McCaskill tire, sure but she did set a high pace. COVID-19 has obviously affected training camps in ways that have changed weight cutting strategies and may have harmed sparring. With the economy and society opening up more and Texas being open it is possible that some preparation will be more effective now than in 2020 what goes different?
Braekhus clearly won the fight when she created space and boxed effectively on the outside. However, McCaskill’s youth showed when she pressed the action with activity and built an early lead. Braekhus won he jabbing battle and has the sharper right cross. McCaskill had a very effective overhand right and some good in close left hooks to the head. McCaskill also scored one solid right uppercut to the head inside. Neither established a consistent or effective body attack. McCaskill seemed to succeed behind an unorthodox and aggressive style that I feel can be dealt with in the film room and sparring. However, the approach that worked for McCaskill was successful due to youth and ability to overcome superior talent through pressure. Heading into the rematch we must look to the ability of Braekhus to start smarter and McCaskill to finish stronger. I look forward to this rematch.