Jessica McCaskill is set to defend her undisputed welterweight title against Cecilia Brækhus in early 2021.
Brækhus exercised her rematch clause to attempt to win back the titles following the pair’s showdown in Tulsa, Okla., in August. McCaskill won with 97-94 and 97-93 scores from a pair of judges, with the final judge calling it a draw.
McCaskill (9-2 3 KOs) became a two-weight world champion in just her 11th professional fight. She also won the WBA world super-lightweight title against Erica Farias in October 2018 before unifying the division with a win against Anahi Sanchez in May 2019.
Brækhus (36-1 9 KOs) was undefeated going into the match in August, and she hinted that she may consider retirement as she dealt with the immediate fallout of her loss. However, she has bounced back from that disappointment to set up a rematch due in 2021, with a precise date and venue yet to be decided.
“That’s the fastest retirement I’ve ever seen in boxing history — she’s back!” said McCaskill. “We knew she would be back and that it would only be a matter of time. Usually those types of conversations straight after a fight to direct the audience’s eyes away from the loss. In this sport, so many people have said that they are retired and then come back to have fights.”
McCaskill quickly put aside the win and now that a rematch has been confirmed, she is focused on preparing for her next fight.
“Tulsa is over with and now I have to get up for the rematch which is part of being professional and part of the gameplay. The only rematch I’ve had in my pro career was with Erica Farias, so it’s part of it and you cannot expect anything to motivate, you can’t expect your team to hype you up for a workout, what if they are not there that day? You can’t expect the fans to get you hyped for the fight because what if there are no fans? I am a very mentally strong person, I can control how to get from point A to point B, so I will be ready for it.”
Jessica McCaskill will defend her undisputed welterweight title against Cecilia Brækhus in early 2021 after former champion Brækhus activated the rematch clause. Date and venue to be announced. pic.twitter.com/wacayPN0zb— Boxing News (@BoxingNewsED) September 14, 2020
“It was the weakest performance in my whole career,” said Brækhus, who explained why she ultimately decided against retirement.
“I still feel I won, or could have got a draw, and when I thought about that, I knew I could beat her in a rematch. I didn’t want to go out with a career-worst performance either, I definitely owe that to my fans. If this was a fight where I lost to a better fighter, had been in my best shape and had given it my all, then fine, I could retire, but that was not the case here.
“She gave her everything in the ring and I wanted to give her props for that, I knew what I was going through and what I was struggling with, for everyone this was just a tough time. But we need to meet again under different circumstances.
“It’s hard to explain exactly how I was in the ring that night for everyone that has watched my other fights and been following me for a while they saw that something was very wrong. So for me to come back after getting some time in Norway with my friends and family, spending time on my other projects and gaining my strength back and going back to training camp, I don’t need to do anything different to get the win.”
The Norwegian pointed towards the coronavirus pandemic as an unsettling factor that contributed to her defeat, and hoped fans would be in place for the next fight.
“We never underestimated Jessica at all, these are unprecedented times and there’s no blueprint here, I didn’t have anyone that I could call and ask ‘what do I do in this situation?’ This had never happened before so I just had to try my luck, there’s no one to blame it just didn’t work out for us.
“The situation with no crowd didn’t bother me so much, it’s good in a way because it’s completely neutral! But it would be good to have fans for the rematch, it gives us more energy and a little extra, we don’t want three American judges next time that’s for sure! I think if it’s in America I will have to get the KO for sure. After meeting Jessica in the ring, I was never near getting KO’d, so I’m definitely not worried about that.”