Jessica McCaskill: I’m ready for anything Cecilia Braekhus brings to the table
A banker by day and a boxer by night, unified junior welterweight titleholder Jessica McCaskill lives her life as an innovator.
“No days off. That’s my motto,” McCaskill said.
When she is not providing financial advice, McCaskill transforms from adviser to “CASKILLA” at Body Shot Boxing Club in Chicago, where she trains at least 20 hours a week.
But her next battle could be more taxing than the next financial recession.
On August 15, McCaskill will attempt to win a title in her second weight class when she squares off against undisputed, undefeated welterweight champion Cecilia Braekhus in a DAZN-streamed main event on the streets of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Braekhus (36-0, 9 knockouts), a Columbia native based in Norway, is one of the most decorated female boxers in the history of the sport, having spent 11 of her 13 years as a professional as a world titleholder, including the last six as the undisputed champion.
Say hello to McCaskill, who agrees with the well-known saying, “All good things must come to an end.” With Braekhus at 38 years of age, she believes age could come into play.
“Her age could be one of the biggest factors in this fight,” McCaskill told The Ring Sunday afternoon. “And it’s not just age; it is also the amount of fights that she has been in, and how much her body has been through compared to myself.”
McCaskill (8-2, 3 knockouts), 35, of Chicago, who captured the WBC junior welterweight title in October 2018 with a unanimous decision over Erica Farias and unified when she outpointed WBA counterpart Anahi Sanchez in May 2019, hinted that youth could trump experience.
“I am 35, so we’re close in age, but I have a much younger body [than Cecilia],” she continued. “And it’s the same thing with some of the other fighters [in my division], they’ve had 300 amateur fights and then multiple professional fights.
“I had approximately 25 amateur bouts, and I have had 10 fights as a professional, so when it comes to the physical part of it all, I have a much younger body. I’m ready to go.”
McCaskill, who is coming off a razor-thin majority decision in her lone defense, expects to make it a tactical affair against Braekhus.
“I’m ready for anything Cecilia brings to the table,” McCaskill said. “We’ll utilize the outside of the ring, we’ll come forward, I’ll attack the body, we’ll mix in some combinations – we have a full arsenal.”
If McCaskill defeats Braekhus, not only would she snap her unbeaten streak, but that would also end Braekhus’ hopes of making history. She is just one win away from numerically breaking all-time great heavyweight Joe Louis’ record of 25 consecutive title defenses.
“To be honest, I’m just focused on winning,” McCaskill said. “There are things we are specifically focused on, and I’m focused on my (eventual) spot in the Hall of Fame. I want to focus on my place in history.”
Braekhus-McCaskill was initially scheduled as the chief support bout to the WBC flyweight title bout between Julio Cesar Martinez and McWilliams Arroyo. However, that fight was postponed when Martinez contracted an illness. As a result, Braekhus and McCaskill was promoted to the main event, the second such female fight to be elevated to main event status in recent months.
On July 15, unbeaten junior lightweight Mikaela Mayer made easy work of Helen Joseph when she won a unanimous decision in Las Vegas. It marked the first time a women’s fight had been the main event for a Top Rank card on ESPN.
“This is not just an important fight for me, but it’s a huge fight for women’s boxing,” McCaskill said. “I can’t wait to get going.”
The itch for McCaskill to get back to the ring is palpable. Her bout with Braekhus has already been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Their original date was April 17 on the canceled Regis Prograis-Maurice Hooker card at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.