Jessica McCaskill was barely two weeks removed from the biggest fight of her career when she was already sizing up her next opportunity.
A title fight loss to Ireland’s Katie Taylor in December 2017 never discouraged the Chicago-based boxer from daring to be great. In fact, she already had her eye on a showdown with undisputed welterweight champion Cecilia Brækhus long before the pairing finally materialized.
“I did think I would take her on,” McCaskill insisted during a recent media conference to discuss her upcoming showdown with Brækhus this weekend in Tulsa, Oklahoma (Saturday, DAZN, 9:00pm ET). “We met in Vegas in [December] 2017 at the Holly Holm-(Cris) Cyborg fight. My coach and manager Rick Ramos was kind of like negotiating for me but he was in Chicago and I was in Vegas.
“So he texted me and was like “Go meet so-and-so here” and “Go meet Cecilia.” So we took a picture together. She puts her fist up, so I put mine up and then I took it back down because I didn’t want our hands to be measured side-by-side. That was 2017. So yeah I did expect to fight her.”
McCaskill was competing as a lightweight at the time but already preparing to move up in weight. She did just that, collecting major titles in back-to-back fights at junior welterweight beginning with a 10-round win over Erica Annabella Farias on the first ever DAZN-USA show in October 2018 at Wintrust Arena in her Chicago hometown. Nearly eight months later came a title unification win over Anahi Ester Sanchez in their furiously paced thriller last May.
A repeat win over Farias in their rematch last October—at the very same venue as their first fight—was enough to put her in contention for bigger fights. A willingness to move up in weight, coupled with Brækhus agreeing to come down a couple of pounds helped finalize terms for McCaskill to contend for the undisputed welterweight champion.
Their bout was due to take place April 17 at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, only for the event to get shut down due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Matchroom Boxing USA—which promotes both boxers—was able to reschedule the bout for this weekend, coming as an upgrade after flyweight titlist Julio Cesar Martinez suffered an injury and was forced to withdraw from a title defense versus McWilliams Arroyo.
Now, McCaskill and Brækhus get to make history as they represent the first-ever female fight to headline on DAZN-USA from a stateside location. McCaskill—who turns 36 later this month—never expected any less, even if she never quite envisioned fighting in a makeshift outdoor venue in the center of a city.
“I always did expect to fight her. In the middle of a street? No, that was definitely unexpected,” admits McCaskill. “That’s DAZN coming with the upgrade, bringing in some flashy things.
“Next thing we will be on a yacht or fighting on a rooftop of a building. That’s the type of stuff I’m putting out in the atmosphere.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox