LAS VEGAS, Nevada, Sept. 13, 2018 – The prestigious publication of record in boxing, RING Magazine, has never presented a Women’s number one Pound-For-Pound title belt in its 96-year history. This changed on Thursday in Las Vegas.
RING Magazine editor Douglass Fischer presented the first Women’s Pound for Pound belt to women’s unified welterweight champion Cecilia Braekhus of Norway. “The First Lady” is undefeated with a record of 34 wins, nine by knockout. The presentation took place at the MGM Grand Resort and Casino Hotel’s David Copperfield Theater, the media center for the Canelo vs. GGG 2 card.
The Boxing Writers Association of American (BWAA) the BWAA’s announced on June 26, 2018 that Braekhus was voted the top Pound-for-Pound Women’s Fighter in the world by its membership, a first for the organization.
Braekhus ‘vanguard’ of women’s boxing
“This is an overdue belt, I don’t even want to hold it anymore,” said Fischer, as he handed the hardware to Braekhus. “Cecilia has been a vanguard in women’s boxing. This is not going to be the first Ring Championship title we award to a female fighter. She is the first because she is the most accomplished out there.”
Breakhus has been the undisputed women’s welterweight world champion since September 13, 2014, receiving her RING belt four years to the day from this accomplishment. For a portion of her reign, she was the only undisputed champion, male or female. In the modern four-belt era, only four men have matched Braekhus’ accomplishment (Jermain Taylor, Bernard Hopkins, Terence Crawford, and most recently Oleksandr Usyk).
“This is one of my biggest dreams, a dream I was never really able to believe would be true,” said Braekhus. “I remember watching Muhammed Ali with his Ring belt, and I was wondering whether a female fighter would carry his belt. I never dreamt I would be the one, and the first one.
“I am so happy and proud, and this is one of my biggest moments in boxing. I will do my best to prove that I am the best female fighter in the world and honor this belt,” said Braekhus.
Breakthroughs achieved in sport and business
Fischer said he sees the shift in women’s boxing. He says its boxing that has caught up to Braekhus. Fischer points to the inclusion of women’s boxing in the Olympic Games starting in 2012 as the breakthough. “The Olympics provided the perfect platform for the most accomplished amateurs to turn pro. We’ve seen the results with Katie Taylor (of Ireland) and Claressa Shields (of the United States) who have advanced quickly.”
Fischer says putting women fighters on TV was the next step. “They put fans in the seats. Cecilia does that.
“If you see her fight, you don’t think, oh, she’s good for a woman. She’s just amazing. She’s a vanguard, a pioneer. As a female fighter, if you have dreams of turning pro, if you dream about being an undisputed champion, you look at her,” said Fischer.
On May 5, 2018, Braekhus was featured in the first women’s bout ever telecast on HBO’s World Championship Boxing, winning a 10-round decision over Kali Reis. Her victory from the iconic Stubhub Center in Carson, California averaged an impressive 904,000 viewers in the live telecast on HBO.
“Promoters are realizing they’re easy to work with,” said Fischer of women’s professional boxers. “They aren’t divas. They’re not asking you to break into Fort Knox. The ratings are good and they sell tickets. You’d be a fool not to (book them). It’s going to normalize it, it’s not going to be a sideshow like 20 years ago,” added Fischer.
Braekhus: ‘Something for female fighters to work for’
Braekhus believes her role in this breakthough is less due to her, and more to the dedicated, anonymous amateurs who helped grow the sport.
“I don’t think you can give one person the credit,” said Braekhus. “I think there are many layers. And you have to remember, we can’t do it if the men aren’t with us. Without our team around us, you know, with men willing to take the chance and promote them, that is a big issue.
“You have the girls who I know from amateur boxing, the girls who never made money. They were not allowed to go the Olympics. They were never famous. They were invisible. They go to training, to the gym in the morning, work all day, and train in the afternoon, all for the love of it.
“I’m just lucky,” insisted Braekhus. “If I can be one of the first representatives, I think and hope this will be something, a big thing for female fighters in the future, they can have something to look forward and work for – we sure have deserved that.”
“Right now it’s just about having fun, and enjoying myself,” she explained. “I have nothing left to prove. So I’m trying to see how hard I can push it.” Braekhus says she’s open to moving up in weight to create new opportunities and see what’s out there. “Absolutely. That’s what it’s all about now.” She hopes to make a second appearance on HBO Boxing before the end of 2018.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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