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Jessica McCaskill is treating coronavirus delays like any other fight

Photo by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA
21
Mar

While much of the sports world is shutdown due to the proliferation of COVID-19, some athletes are not taking it as hard as one would expect.

Meet unified 140-pound titleholder Jessica McCaskill, who saw her slated April 17 clash against unbeaten undisputed welterweight world champion Cecilia Braekhus get postponed due to the coronavirus.

Speaking to The Ring this week, McCaskill said that getting to the point of being a world champion has always had its set of obstacles, and coronavirus is just another impediment that she is more than ready to handle.

“It hasn’t been an easy road,” McCaskill said. “There have been times when fighters have backed out, people haven’t made weight, and people have canceled (fights) for no reason.



It had initially begun to weigh down on McCaskill, but instead of being dispirited, she focused on boxing and staying in shape in case her moment to shine had come. In October 2018, McCaskill outpointed Argentina’s Érica Farías to win the WBC junior welterweight title, in what turned out to be her only bout of the year.

“We had about five different fights fall through that year,” she admitted. “It was a very long and challenging time for me and my team.”

Sticking to the game plan and never wavering from it has been the blueprint for McCaskill (8-2, 3 knockouts), 35, of Chicago.

“Before the fight was signed, we were in the gym. Before that, we were also in the gym,” she continued. “We just stick to our routine, which is consistency.”

In the late 1980s, there was a 168-pound beltholder by the name of Park-Chong Pal. During his title run, he typically fought four times a year. Fighters today are not as durable as fighters in that era, or to be fair, have had it conditioned out of them.

Champions today generally compete at half that rate, with an exception being junior featherweight titlist Emanuel Navarrete, who fought four times in 2019. When asked about boxing’s problems with inactivity, McCaskill said that it’s a problem on the female side of the sport, too.

“We have contacted people throughout the years to try and make a fight, and they told us that they hadn’t been training,” McCaskill said. “It’s kind of frustrating when you call yourself a professional athlete and you’re not prepared or not close enough to be prepared to take a fight within six weeks.”

As for women’s boxing, “CasKILLA” envisions a killer future.

“I think a lot of the promoters are stepping up and making sure that women are taken seriously, their fights are looked at, and not overlooked,” McCaskill said. “(Manager) Rick Ramos does an excellent job with making sure that Matchroom (Sport) is making the right contracts and the right deals.”

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