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Jessica McCaskill brings the heat, becomes undisputed world champion

Written By | Aug 16, 2020
Jessica McCaskill celebrates her win over Cecilia Braekhus after their title bout on Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Photo: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Jessica McCaskill

Jessica McCaskill celebrates her win over Cecilia Braekhus after their title bout on Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Photo: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom

SAN DIEGO, Calif., August 15, 2020 – American Jessica McCaskill of Chicago (9-2, 3 KOs) became the brand new unified and undisputed champion in boxing in an unexpected performance Saturday when few believed in her – except herself.

McCaskill delivered a rugged performance to defeat longtime world champion and women’s top pound-for-pound boxer Cecilia Braekhus of Norway (35-1, 9 KOs). McCaskill won by majority decision by scores of 97-94, 97-93, and 95-95.

Jessica McCaskill dictated the terms of the bout by fighting inside, and it paid off in a victory. Photo: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom

Jessica McCaskill dictated the terms of the bout by fighting inside, and it paid off in a victory. Photo: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom

Braekhus (35-1, 9 KOs) has held all four titles since September 2014. She was on the brink of breaking the record of consecutive world title defenses as the great American heavyweight Joe Louis. Saturday’s fight was all but considered her coronation. Instead, ‘The First Lady’ will have to be satisfied with sharing the record with the ‘Brown Bomber,’ while absorbing the blow of her first loss to the challenger.

McCaskill: ‘Ridiculous!’

“Ridiculous!” said McCaskill of her win. “I was thinking it takes a lot to take it away from the champion. I kept saying in my head ‘and new, and new.’ When I’m on the bag at the gym, that’s what I’m saying. ‘And new and new,’ and that’s what happened.”




McCaskill, age 23, who is also currently the WBA and WBC World Super Lightweight champion, moved up a division to take on the challenge of her career. She was much smaller than Braekhus, but she brought the fight to the champion and imposed her game plan to make it rough and fight on the inside. She denied Braekhus the distance she needed to deploy her boxing skills.

Jessica McCaskill was the more active fighter, throwing almost double the punches of opponent Cecilia Braekhus. Photo: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom

Jessica McCaskill was the more active fighter, throwing almost double the punches of opponent Cecilia Braekhus. Photo: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom

Braekhus can be a slow starter. Even when she finally developed a stronger rhythm, McCaskill remained active and make the veteran eat plenty of hard right hands.

“I just didn’t stop, I didn’t expect her to be as rough as she was, but I was rough as I had to be,” said McCaskill. “I was throwing when she was holding, keep my feet moving, being as aggressive as possible. I threw 230 more punches than she did, I showed I wanted it.”

McCaskill: ‘Fight it for the little girl’

By the time Cecilia Braekhus got busy, the fight was already in Jessica McCaskill’s hands. Photo: Ed Mulholland, Matchroom Boxing

Give McCaskill all the credit in the world for her determination. She bounced back from her defeat to undisputed women’s lightweight champion Katie Taylor to win the WBC super lightweight title against the rugged Erica Farias, and beat her a second time in the rematch. The experience gave her the confidence she needed to get the victory.

“Coach said hey, this fight, fight it for you,” recalled McCaskill. “So this is for the fourth grade homeless Jessica. This is for the little girl that just didn’t care what people thought about her, and learned to love herself even though she was really weird. For the me now that sacrifices everything to put this sport first and make a difference. That’s what this fight was all about.”

Braekhus heading for retirement?

Cecilia Braekhus cannot be denied the legacy she has left in women’s professionnal boxing. Photo: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom

Braekhus was ever gracious in defeat. “She really wanted it, she did a great match. I’m glad to pass the torch to her. Jessica just threw more punches than me. She really, really wanted it. I spent a lifetime collecting those belts, I hope she takes good care of them,” smiled Braekhus.

“I’m incredibly proud to be part of women’s boxing right now. If this is my last fight, that will be my biggest achievement of all,” said Braekhus. Will it be her farewell fight? When asked, the 38-year-old Braekhus said, “I’ve done so much, I miss my friends, my family. Women’s boxing is in an amazing place right now. They’ll do fine without me.”

Braekhus long ago assured her place in the hall of fame, and she will remain a champion for women’s boxing, a title which will never be taken from her. It may be the right time for the 38-year-old to retire.

McCaskill hopes for a revenge rematch against Katie Taylor

McCaskill is now likely to get the opportunity to fight the winner of the Taylor vs. Persoon rematch happening next week, which would give her the opportunity to get her revenge on Taylor. It could end up being the biggest fight in boxing in 2020 between two women who hold 10 legitimate world titles. When’s the last time you could say this about two male boxing champions?

Beasts from the East: Madrimov and Giyasov win in Tulsa

Israil Madrimov got more of a fight than he expected from Eric Walker. Photo: Ed Mulholland, Matchroom Boxing

Israil Madrimov got more of a fight than he expected from Eric Walker. Photo: Ed Mulholland, Matchroom Boxing

In the co-main, Israil “The Dream” Madrimov (6-0, 5 KOs) got more than he expected from a determined Eric Walker of Plaquemine, Louisiana (20-3, 9 KOs) who wasn’t about to let his own dream be taken from him. But it wasn’t quite enough to get him past Madrimov, who went the distance for the first time as a pro. Scores were 116-110 X 2 and 116-111.



Walker has been making up for lost time since his release from prison in 2013 after serving 14 years, where he took up boxing, training for prison tournaments. Walker came out at the opening bell with the same attitude, sending a strong message he was going to give it his all against Madrimov. Walker’s work rate in the early rounds was impressive, and he buzzed Madrimov with several headshots.

Eric Walker had a lot to fight for, and he won the respect of everyone watching with his performance. Photo: Ed Mulholland, Matchroom Boxing

Madrimov reset himself, gathered his wits, and turned up the heat on a 90-degree night in Tulsa, engaging in a true street fight on the streets.

In the ninth round, the fight went off the rails. Madrimov clocked Walker with a left hand, but as Walker was falling, Madrimov fell and pushed Walker back. The referee ruled it a push and didn’t count the knockdown, giving Walker five minutes of recovery time. He explained, “The punch didn’t bring him down, the shoulder brought him down. If he hadn’t done that, it would have been a good punch. He pushed him through the ropes.” See it for yourself and decide.

Walker was seeing stars, and it wasn’t because the fight was outdoors. Madrimov tried to stop Walker in the last minute left of the round, but Walker stayed on his feet. Walker didn’t have much left, but he used what little he had left to make it through the final two rounds to the bell. Walker won the only victory left to him, a moral victory. Walker won it without question.

Madrimov said the fight was tougher than he expected, “I knew exactly what kind of fighter he is, but we took this fight without a doubt. That’s a learning experience. I need this fight, it’s the first time I have gone the distance.” Madrimov said three weeks of training camp wasn’t enough, but he didn’t want any excuses.

Madrimov landed 198 of 508 punches (39 percent), which were nearly all power punches. Walker landed 127 of 704 punches (18 percent).

Shakram Giyasov of Uzbekistan ended the evening early for veteran Wiston Campos of Nicaragua with a body shot KO. Photo: Ed Mulholland, Matchroom Boxing

Shakram Giyasov of Uzbekistan ended the evening early for veteran Wiston Campos of Nicaragua with a body shot KO. Photo: Ed Mulholland, Matchroom Boxing

Shakram Giyasov of Uzbekistan (10-0, 8 KOs) delivered a left hook to the liver to end the evening early for veteran Wiston Campos of Nicaragua (31-8, 19 KOs) after three rounds. Giyasov continues to mow down opponents with relative ease.

“I’ll be honest, I felt his liver by my knuckles. I didn’t expect him to get up and I saw by his expression he was not getting up,” said Giyasov. “It’s really hard, it’s difficult to be away from my family and friends … Whatever carries me to a belt, I’m going in that direction step by step.” Giyasov did his post-fight interview in Russian, but also answered reporter Beto Duran in English and Spanish, three of the six languages he speaks.

Giyasov hopes to now be in contention for a title fight. His amateur pedigree combined with his professional record is solid, but he may need to bag a few more bouts fight.

Ababiy and Ford put rounds down

Nikita "White Choccolate" Ababiy got solid work going the distance against Jarvis Williams. Photo: Ed Mulholland, Matchroom Boxing

Nikita “White Choccolate” Ababiy got solid work going the distance against Jarvis Williams. Photo: Ed Mulholland, Matchroom Boxing

Prospect Nikita “White Chocolate” Ababiy of Brooklyn (9-0, 6 KOs) was taken to the final bell by Jarvis Williams of St, Louis (8-3-1, 5 KOs) to win a unanimous decision Scores wee 59-55 X 2 and 58-54. Williams had never been stopped, and he is precisely the kind of opponent the 21-year-old Ababiy needs to face early in his career.

“He was definitely tough, said Ababiy. “The last time I’ve been in the ring was eight months ago, I had a little rust. Because of the COVID, I had a quick training camp. I went through other stuff outside of camp but no excuses. I feel like I get more man strength every single week.” Although Ababiy was a bit disappointed, these type of fights can only help him improve moving forward.

Featherweight prospect Raymond Ford goes home to New Jersey with a win over Eric Manriquez of Tulsa. Photo: Ed Mulholland, Matchroom Boxing

Featherweight prospect Raymond Ford goes home to New Jersey with a win over Eric Manriquez of Tulsa. Photo: Ed Mulholland, Matchroom Boxing

Opening the card, featherweight prospect Raymond Ford (6-0, 2 KOs) of Camden, New Jersey was taken the distance by a determined Eric Manriquez of Tulsa (7-11, 3 KOs). Ford admitted it wasn’t his best performance, but rolling up rounds early in a young professional’s career is money in the bank.

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities.

Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.  

Copyright © 2020 by Falcon Valley Group

Gayle Falkenthal

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, MS, APR, is President of the Falcon Valley Group, a San Diego based communications consulting firm. Falkenthal is a veteran award-winning broadcast and print journalist, editor, producer, talk host and commentator. She is an instructor at National University in San Diego, and previously taught in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.