Ivana Habazin pulled off the first upset well ahead of her next title challenge.
Charles Muniz, Habazin’s manager, secured control of his fighter’s WBC-ordered welterweight title fight versus lineal and unified champion Jessica McCaskill. A purse bid hearing held Tuesday by the WBC was won by Muniz’s privately owned Piranha 1 LLC company, who bid $201,000 to outpace Matchroom Boxing ($91,000) as the session’s only other participant.
Muniz and Habazin are both listed as directors of the company, which was founded just two years ago.
Per WBC rules, ten percent of the winning bid ($20,100) will be held in escrow as a win bonus. From the remaining amount, McCaskill is due $126,630—70 percent—of the bid as the defending champion. The remaining 30 percent ($54,270) will go to Habazin as the mandatory challenger.
A date and location are still to be determined for the fight, which will mark McCaskill’s fourth overall title defense. It will be the 38-year-young champion’s first bout since her ten-round defeat to unbeaten Chantelle Cameron in their undisputed junior welterweight championship last November 5 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
The loss to Cameron was doubly damaging for McCaskill, who dropped down in weight in a bid to become a two-division, undisputed champion. Instead, her welterweight reign was broken up as she was stripped of the IBF title due to a by-law that does not protect reigning titlists who move down in weight to challenge for another belt.
A similar by-law carried by the WBO was presented to the sanctioning body’s Championship Committee, who determined in a December 14 ruling that her title reign would remain intact.
As a result, McCaskill (12-3, 5KOs) still holds the lineal, WBA, WBC and WBO crowns which she claimed in an August 2020 points win over long-reigning champ and pound-for-pound queen Cecilia Braekhus. McCaskill scored a repeat win in their March 2021 rematch, followed by stoppage victories over Kandi Wyatt in December 2021 and—in her most recent bout at welterweight—Alma Ibarra last June 25 in San Antonio, Texas.
Habazin (21-4, 7KOs)—a 33-year-old former champ from Croatia—once upon a time held the IBF welterweight title, doing so on her second try in a March 2014 points win over Sabrina Giuliani in Herstal. Belgium. The reign was short-lived, as Habazin dropped a ten-round decision to Braekhus in their September 2014 fully unification bout which saw Braekhus become the first women’s four-belt undisputed champion.
Habazin has won eight of her last ten bouts since then, with the lone two defeats coming at the championship level. She remains best known for her January 2020 defeat to Claressa ‘GWOAT’ Shields for the vacant WBC and WBO junior middleweight titles.
The two were due to meet in October 2019, only for the event to be canceled after the two camps engaged in a brawl preceding the pre-fight weigh-in. Artis J. Mack, Shields’ brother was arrested for his role in the melee, including his allegedly punching James Ali Bashir, Habazin’s trainer for the fight.
Bashir was hospitalized as a result of the blow,but recovered in time to train Habazin for the rescheduled bout. Mack was later charged with and pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated assault and sentenced to one year in jail, less 158 days for time already served.
The 33-year-old Habazin has since rebounded with a ten-round victory over Diana Prazak last October 22 in Zabok, Croatia. The win came with the WBC Silver welterweight title at stake, the belt more symbolic of Habazin advancing to the mandatory challenger position.
McCaskill previously held the WBC and WBA junior welterweight titles, winning the belts in back-to-back victories over reigning titlists Erica Farias and Anahi Ester Sanchez. Both fights trailer her ten-round defeat to Katie Taylor in their December 2017 WBA lightweight title fight. All three fights were promoted by Matchroom, along with the entirety of McCaskill’s welterweight title reign and her defeat to Cameron.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
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