The gym has become all that Jessica ‘CasKilla’ McCaskill has known for the past few months.
Whether working her full-time job remotely, living her everyday life of training for the biggest fighter of her boxing career, the reigning junior welterweight titlist has made the most of her modified surroundings. Rather than use the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to shut down, McCaskill instead used it as an opportunity to ensure she is in the ring before most of the rest of her peers.
“The gym has actually been my home. I’m here now. I work from the gym, I train from the gym,” McCaskill (8-2, 3KOs) revealed during a recent virtual press conference to promote her upcoming challenge of undisputed welterweight queen Cecilia ‘First Lady’ Braekhus (36-0, 9KOs). “The gym has been my second home. Nothing has really changed.
“Just going from getting ready for April 17 to getting ready for August 15. This is gonna be great for the fight fans. Everyone’s looking for the next [great] fight to come on and I’m just proud of what’s gonna happen… on August 15.”
The two will collide on August 15, in a title fight which will stream live on DAZN literally from the streets of downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma. The bout will serve part of first Matchroom Boxing USA card in the states during the coronavirus pandemic. It will also mark a historic night of the sport, as Braekhus attempts the 26th defense of a title reign which dates back to March 2009.
McCaskill first raised her hand to step up to the challenge for a bout that was due to take place April 17 in Oxon Hill, Maryland. The first wave of the ongoing pandemic ruined those plans, though never tempered the desire on either side.
Accepting assignment meant moving up in weight for McCaskill, who already came up from lightweight to junior welterweight in October 2018. Her current three-fight win streak at the new weight includes a title win and subsequent defense over Argentina’s Erica Annabella Farias, along with a title unification win over Argentina’s Anahi Sanchez last May in one of the very best fights of 2019.
The championship surge came after coming up short at the title level at lightweight, dropping a competitive but clear decision to Ireland’s Katie Taylor (15-0, 6KOs) in July 2017. Taylor—a 2012 Olympic Gold medalist and largely responsible for women’s boxing becoming an official Olympic sport—has since emerged as arguably the best pound-for-pound female boxer on the planet, challenged only by Braekhus and two-time Olympic Gold medalist and three division champ Claressa Shields.
McCaskill is now poised to shake up that picture in every way imaginable. The winner of her bout with Braekhus is due to challenge whomever prevails in the lightweight championship rematch one week later between Taylor and Belgium’s Delfine Persoon.
It’s the boxing equivalent of murderer’s row, but one where the longshot underdog is game for the cause.
“I’m fully confident,” McCaskill says of her chances. “If not now, when. Fights at this level, there’s no breaking down, no notes. Just hard training and putting it all on the line in the ring."