In the current fistic climate, it’s fair to say no fight in the women’s divisions is going to reap the rewards an average outing from Saul Alvarez, Manny Pacquiao, or Tyson Fury might produce. It’s not to say it won’t get there someday.
It’s also not to say that’s the only barometer for success. Between lightweight and Jr. middleweight, the possibilities exist for some of the biggest fights ever in women’s boxing.
This Saturday, 38-year old undisputed welterweight queen Cecilia Braekhus (38-0, 9 KO) will attempt a record, for any gender or weight class, 26th consecutive defense of the WBC belt she first won in 2009. Along the way, Braekhus added the WBA, WBO and finally IBF belts, retaining all four since 2014.
She was the first female headliner ever on HBO in it’s waning days as a boxing broadcaster and, after the postponement of the flyweight title scrap between Julio Cesar Martinez and McWilliams Arroyo, finds herself as the card lead in her go for history this weekend (DAZN, 8 PM EST).
The opponent makes sense. 35-year old Jessica McCaskill (8-2, 3 KO), the reigning WBC titlist at Jr. welterweight, has won three straight since losing a lightweight title shot at Katie Taylor in 2017. In boxing, comparison shopping combat on the eve of a showdown is a regular occurrence. Fans will see Braekhus against McCaskill and, assuming Braekhus wins, will be able to compare that to Taylor’s result a few years ago.
Then they can imagine how that plays into a likely showdown between Braekhus and Taylor.
The 34-year old Taylor (15-0, 6 KO) still has work to do.
The undisputed lightweight champion had luck in her favor the first time she squared off with 35-year old Delfine Persoon (44-2, 18 KO) in June 2019. Taylor got the disputed decision and both have won once since to set up a rematch on August 22nd. Braekhus on paper should be the bigger favorite in her pending clash but is closer to 40 than the age where her reign began. Mother time can catch up to anyone.
Nothing can be taken for granted.
If both Braekhus and Taylor win, a hoped-for showdown can become an anticipated event. It might occur at a catchweight but considering Taylor has already won a belt at 140 lbs. as well there is probably wiggle room. In Taylor, Braekhus would have an opponent with more name recognition than any she has faced to date. A victory would be an exclamation point on an exemplary career.
It would only be one exclamation point.
If Braekhus were to stay undefeated through a Taylor fight, it’s almost certain fans would be instantly intrigued by another big name who wouldn’t be far away on the scale.
If Braekhus can come down for Taylor, surely she could figure out how to come up for Claressa Shields?
The 25-year old Shields (10-0, 2 KO), who is working her way down the scale in search of competition, has already unified two titles at super middleweight and been undisputed at middleweight. She currently holds the WBC and WBO belts at Jr. middleweight.
On the men’s side, some of the most legendary business in boxing the last couple generations has been done between welterweight and Jr. middleweight. Shields has taken to calling herself the GWOAT, greatest woman of all time.
Braekhus, in the next year or so, could have the opportunity to combine statistical accomplishment and name value opponents in Taylor and Shields to make a case for herself in that regard.
Sounds like fun from here.
There’s going to be a belt of some sort for Tyson-Jones, if and when it happens? There’s not even supposed to be an official winner. Oh boxing, never change...Tried out the show Mrs. America on Hulu. Cate Blanchett gives Meryl Streep a run for her money in terms of range over the years...A lot of big names are still without a date for the remainder of the year with a lot of dates already spoken for. Will we have some crowded weekends or will some fighters opt to call 2020 a wash? It’s getting closer to September every day...Losing a year of college football could be devastating for some of the smaller conferences. What a mess we’re looking at. Good luck handicapping the next draft after Trevor Lawrence likely still goes first…Is Saturday’s Rolly Romero-Jackson Marinez (Showtime, 9 PM EST) scrap an unofficial eliminator for a shot at the winner of Gervonta Davis-Leo Santa Cruz? Follow the bouncing ball that is the WBA belts and it just might be. It’s a fine looking scrap regardless and one of the undercard highlights on the multiple cards this weekend.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org