September 26, 2020

Sports Prism

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A colossal upset? Not to Jessica McCaskill

Sports Prism
A weekly look at boxing's hottest topics.A weekly look at boxing's hottest topics.
A weekly look at boxing’s hottest topics.

Cecilia Braekhus was on the verge of boxing history on Saturday. Heading into her fight in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with Jessica McCaskill in a bout streamed on DAZN, Braekhus had made 25 consecutive successful title defenses of the women’s welterweight title.

That tied her with a guy you may have heard of — former heavyweight champion Joe Louis — for the most consecutive successful title defenses in the sport’s history.

Louis’ title reign began in 1937 and he held it until he lost to Ezzard Charles in 1950.

Braekhus won her first championship in 2009 and held it until she met a plucky, one-time homeless girl from Chicago.

McCaskill won a majority decision over Braekhus by scores of 97-93, 97-94 and 95-95 to win the IBF/WBA/WBC/WBO welterweight titles.

And though McCaskill had lost a lightweight title fight in 2017 to Katie Taylor, she had no doubt that she’d be able to do it. She said she doesn’t watch many of her opponents’ bouts, but had seen a few rounds of Braekhus and had little doubt she’d win.

“I don’t watch a lot of tape,” McCaskill told Yahoo Sports. “I think I’d seen a couple of rounds of her and Kali Reis, I think her name is. I think I saw maybe a couple of rounds, but I think there was another fight on another channel and I turned the channel.

“I was a little underwhelmed by what I was seeing. Knowing that one day I would probably fight her, I felt right then it would be a fight I would definitely want. I’ve always been kind of unimpressed with her. There was nothing really that stood out to me.”

McCaskill took advantage of the stare-down following Friday’s weigh-in to get a close-up look at Braekhus, who entered the bout with a 36-0 record and nine knockouts. 

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 27: Jessica McCaskill poses with the WBA and WBC belts during a media workout at Body Shot Boxing Club on September 27, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 27: Jessica McCaskill poses with the WBA and WBC belts during a media workout at Body Shot Boxing Club on September 27, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

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Jessica McCaskill pulled off a stunning upset Saturday. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

As McCaskill stared at Braekhus, she said her suspicions earlier were confirmed. She said Braekhus didn’t seem confident.

“I don’t go off of [what the opponent’s team says] at all,” McCaskill said. “I go off of body language and eye contact and things like that. When we did weigh-ins, we weren’t, of course, face to face, but we were close enough. I could see she had a hard time controlling her breathing.

“You could see her abdomen kind of twitching and flexing, almost like she couldn’t catch her breath, as if she were anxious or nervous. The way I interpreted that was, it was either an issue with her weight or it was just nerves. That made me very confident.”

Taylor will rematch Delfine Persoon on Saturday (2 p.m. ET, DAZN). If Taylor wins, McCaskill hopes she’ll get that rematch with Taylor, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist.

If Taylor prevails and a rematch is made in December, as McCaskill hopes, it will set McCaskill up to potentially be the women’s Fighter of the Year.

She beat the previously undefeated Braekhus, and if Taylor wins Saturday she would improve to 16-0. 

Not even close

Rolando Romero won a unanimous decision over Jackson Marinez on Saturday at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut, to become one of a slew of men who get to call themselves WBA lightweight champion.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="But there is no way — none — that Romero won 10 of the 12 rounds, which is how judge Frank Lombardi scored it. Don Trella had it 115-113 for Romero, while Glenn Feldman had it 116-112.” data-reactid=”68″>But there is no way — none — that Romero won 10 of the 12 rounds, which is how judge Frank Lombardi scored it. Don Trella had it 115-113 for Romero, while Glenn Feldman had it 116-112.

I did not see the fight live, and knew the result before I watched it. I scored it 114-114. It was a close fight that either guy could have won.

Lombardi’s card was unnecessarily wide, and is reminiscent of two scorecards from Canelo Alvarez fights past: Adelaide Byrd scored his 2017 bout with Gennadiy Golovkin 118-110 for Alvarez, when many believed Golovkin deserved to win that. C.J. Ross scored his bout with Floyd Mayweather in 2013, 114-114 when Mayweather clearly won going away.

The scoring (as well as the gaggle of other so-called WBA champions) taints Romero’s title.

Mayweather Promotions needs to make a rematch, not only to give Marinez what is due to him but also to help Romero prove he’s a worthy title-holder.

Russell’s call-out ridiculous

The legendary Henry Armstrong, maybe the second-best pound-for-pound boxer in history, once held the featherweight, lightweight and welterweight championships concurrently.

So history would prove that moving from featherweight to welterweight can be done successfully.

That said, Gary Russell Jr.’s call-out of Terence Crawford was puzzling, at best, and hard to take seriously. 

Russell won the WBC featherweight title on March 28, 2015, and still holds it to this day. He defends it annually, as he hasn’t had more than one fight in a year since 2014.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Crawford is the WBO welterweight champion who is in need of a major fight. But Russell not only called him out in a NSFW post on Instagram, but he vowed to pummel him.” data-reactid=”82″>Crawford is the WBO welterweight champion who is in need of a major fight. But Russell not only called him out in a NSFW post on Instagram, but he vowed to pummel him.

“Let the fans know what it really is: I will [expletive] Terence Crawford up,” Russell Jr. said in his Instagram post. “As a matter of fact, just to let you know how serious I am, I just got off the phone with Al [Haymon, the head of the PBC], and we’re in negotiations right now.”

Later in the same video, Russell said, “Everybody’s talking about [Vasiliy] Lomachenko. Lomachenko don’t want to see me.”

Well, in his third pro fight, Lomachenko already did see Russell and scored a one-sided victory.

I’m not sure what got into Russell, but it’s nothing less than ludicrous to suggest he’d get past six rounds against Crawford.

Let’s stop the nonsense and find fights that matter for both guys.

He said it

“Looking at the bigger undisputed picture, all [IBF-WBA-WBO heavyweight champion Anthony] Joshua wants is the WBC title. He was never worried if it came against [Deontay] Wilder or [Tyson] Fury. Whoever owns that belt is who Joshua will face for the undisputed championship.” — Promoter Eddie Hearn, to Sky Sports News.

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