By Francisco Salazar
Cecilia Braekhus should not be anywhere near the criticism of tonight’s last HBO telecast. In fact, she should be praised for being the exceptional undisputed world champion that she is.
Braekhus has dominated a weight division, united all the world title belts, and has overcome adversity in the ring. Is that not what boxing fans want out of those who hold belts around their waist?
Braekhus will again defend her undisputed welterweight championship tonight against Aleksandra Magdziak Lopes at StubHub Center in Carson, California.
The 10-round bout will live on HBO (10:20 p.m. ET/ 7:20 p.m. PT).
Braekhus last fought on July 21, defeating previously unbeaten Inna Sagaydakovskaya by unanimous decision in Moscow.
In her previous fight on May 5, Braekhus overcame a knockdown in round seven to defeat Kali Reis by unanimous decision, a fight that also aired on HBO and took place at the StubHub Center.
Braekhus (34-0, 9 knockouts) has a huge following in her adopted country of Norway and continues to go strong at the age of 37. She does not look like she is slowing down, whether she remains at 147 pounds or decides to move up to the junior middleweight division.
Braekhus has overcome stereotypes to eventually headline a fight card on a premium network, a notion that would be scoffed at 20 years ago. If there was one fighter to accomplish that, it might as well be the best female fighter on the planet, on paper.
“This is my second fight on HBO this year and I am honored to be fighting in the main event in their last night of their illustrious 45-year history of excellence in televising professional boxing,” said Braekhus at Thursday’s press conference.
Braekhus will be facing a fighter in Lopes who is unbeaten in her last three fights and has lost once in her last 10. Lopes Is originally from Poland and now resides in the Boston suburb of Marshfield.
“Aleksandra is a very tough opponent and I know I will have to be at my best to come out victorious,” said Braekhus, who is trained by former heavyweight contender Jonathan Banks. “My fights are always exciting and this Saturday night will be nothing less at the Stubhub Center, (which has been) the site of many memorable and outstanding fights.”
Braekhus’ ascent into elite status in boxing is commendable and impressive. She has set the current standard as to what female boxing can do to open doors for premium networks to air the sport.
It is a shame HBO will no longer air boxing. The blame could be placed on network executives who believe they understand what boxing fans like and do not like.
Braekhus remains unfazed, as she should. She blocks any and all criticism that comes her way the same way she blocks punches from her opponents. Braekhus remains steadfast in being the best female fighter and putting on a solid performance tonight against Lopes.
That includes Claressa Shields, a possible opponent, as she defends her middleweight world title belts in the opening televised bout against Femke Hermans of Belgium.
“It’s amazing to share the stage with another women’s world title bout. It’s truly a vindication for the great year it’s been women’s boxing all over the world and how strong the future is.”
“We have come a long way in the sport and I believe there are even more opportunities to come our way.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing