Eddie Hearn hopes Cecilia Braekhus’ comments in the immediate aftermath of her first defeat didn’t amount to an unofficial retirement speech.
Hearn has been led to believe by Braekhus’ adviser, Tom Loeffler, that she is at least interested in attempting to avenge her upset loss to Jessica McCaskill. If the 38-year-old Braekhus accepts the rematch McCaskill contractually owes her, her promoter mentioned “November, December” as the time frame Hearn has in mind for their second welterweight title fight.
Regardless, Hearn considers McCaskill’s majority-decision win Saturday night as a fight that could’ve gone either way.
“I thought it was a very tight fight,” Hearn said Tuesday during a virtual press conference for the Katie Taylor-Delfine Persoon rematch this Saturday night in Brentwood, England. “You know, I think it depends what you like. I thought the crisper punching came from Braekhus in that fight. But as always, the work rate came from Jessica McCaskill. She’s absolutely relentless, and I think you can definitely argue she deserved the victory. So, it was a big shock, I think, to the wider audience. I think to people in boxing that know both fighters, you know, Cecilia was the favorite. But Jessica was certainly not out of the race there.”
Chicago’s McCaskill (9-2, 3 KOs) beat Braekhus on the scorecards of judges Gerald Ritter (97-94) and David Sutherland (97-93) in a main event DAZN streamed from a temporary, outdoor venue in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Judge Karen Holderfield scored their 10-rounder even (95-95).
The 35-year-old McCaskill’s victory prevented Braekhus (36-1, 9 KOs) from breaking late heavyweight legend Joe Louis’ longstanding record of 25 consecutive title defenses in the same weight class. The Colombian-born boxer from Norway made 25 straight defenses of the WBA and WBC 147-pound championships from May 2009 until November 2019.
“There may end up being a rematch for that fight in November, December,” said Hearn, whose company also promotes Taylor. “You know, there’s so much on the line for Katie on Saturday, as a team we haven’t talked too much about what’s next. The focus is on winning on Saturday, and making sure she remains the undisputed [lightweight] champion. Because you saw last Saturday everybody talking about Braekhus against Taylor, and all of a sudden, the wheels came off. So, it’s very important to stay focused on the task at hand this weekend.”
If Ireland’s Taylor (15-0, 6 KOs) beats Belgium’s Persoon (44-2, 18 KOs) in their rematch for Taylor’s IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO 135-pound championships, a Taylor-McCaskill rematch would generate interest as well. Taylor defeated McCaskill by unanimous decision in their 10-round lightweight title fight in December 2017.
Hearn isn’t convinced, however, that Braekhus will walk away from boxing without at least trying to regain her titles.
“I think that it’s very raw in the moment, isn’t it?,” Hearn said in reference to Braekhus’ post-fight comments. “You know, I think people can say things after. It certainly sounded like it could be a potential retirement speech, but you know, some of the conversations with Tom Loeffler make you think she might fancy the rematch for that fight. So, it’s early days, but you know, I’m guessing we’ll catch up with her this week and obviously respect any decision and support her a hundred percent, whatever she decides to do.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.