LAS VEGAS – Jessica McCaskill refused to let months of hard work go to waste.
The two-division and reigning lineal/WBC/WBA/IBF/WBO welterweight champion overwhelmed Calgary’s Kandi Wyatt, scoring a seventh-round stoppage to defend her crown. No knockdowns were scored but McCaskill was in full control before the fight was mercifully halted at 0:19 of round seven in their DAZN-televised bout Saturday evening at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Having spent the past eight months in the gym working on every conceivable game plan no matter her next opponent, McCaskill and trainer/manager teased the possibility of more boxing being offered in her latest performance. That promise lasted about as long as it took for the defending champion and pound-for-pound entrant to sprint out of her corner, immediately launching heavy right hands. Wyatt took the shots well, even scoring with clean shots of her own in an action-packed opening round.
The same pattern held true in round two. McCaskill refused to take her foot off the gas against an opponent in Wyatt who accepted the assignment on barely one week’s notice. Wyatt stepped in after Argentina’s Victoria Bustos—a former titlist—was unable to secure a travel visa to make the trip to Las Vegas in time to go through with the fight.
McCaskill did her best to exploit that dynamic, testing the conditioning, heart and chin of Wyatt whose head snapped back after taking an overhand right and left hook in round three. McCaskill eased up ever so slightly, not throwing subsequent shots with vicious intentions but enough to slowly wear down Wyatt.
The two-division champ quickly reverted to stalker mode in round four. McCaskill dug to the body and walked down Wyatt with left hands upstairs. Wyatt offered a one-two in return, neither shot landing and only leaving her open for McCaskill to counter with a flurry in the closing seconds of the round.
McCaskill opened round five with a series of rights to the body. Wyatt managed to push the action to center ring, but sorely lacked the equalizer to stall momentum. McCaskill drew a rise out of the crowd with a left-right upstairs, repeating the sequence before connecting with a pair of chopping right hands.
The brutality continued in round six. McCaskill showed slick infighting skills, connecting with a right hand to the body than dodging a left and right by Wyatt drilling her challenger with a right uppercut. Wyatt ended the round battered, to the point of the ringside physician discussing with referee Celestino Ruiz the possibility of stopping the fight.
McCaskill made that decision and easy one. Consecutive one-twos from the champ was enough for Ruiz to step in and rescue Wyatt (10-4, 3KOs) from absorbing additional punishment.
The win marks the second successful defense of the undisputed championship for McCaskill, who improves to 11-2 (3KOs). She has held the belt since dethroning former pound-for-pound queen Cecilia Braekhus last August in Tulsa.. McCaskill repeated the feat this past March in Dallas, marking her sixth consecutive fight versus a former or current champ dating back to her competitive but clear defeat to lightweight champion Katie Taylor in December 2017.
McCaskill-Wyatt was one of two title fights on Saturday’s DAZN telecast. Headlining the show, WBC lightweight champ Devin Haney (26-0, 15KOs) faces WBC interim beltholder Joseph ‘JoJo’ Diaz (32-1-1, 15KOs) in a title consolidation clash.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox