Jessica McCaskill dethroning Cecilia Braekhus was a major accomplishment!
Undisputed female welterweight champion Jessica “CasKilla” McCaskill (9-2, 3ko) is crowned 3kingsboxing.com’s 2020 Female Fighter of the Year! She achieved the unthinkable despite her career getting off to a rough start.
Similar to former unified lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko, she lost her second professional bout but this was not for a title. The setback did not deter McCaskill as she proceeded to win four bouts in a row before taking on now undisputed and top three women’s Pound-4-Pound fighter Katie Taylor in a WBA title bout in 2017. While she made a good account of herself, there was no question Taylor was the better woman that night. This would make two setbacks in just seven fights.
The scrappy 36 year-old with virtually no amateur career didn’t lose the desire to continue fighting. Her next three bouts would be the barometer in deciding if she was worthy of another big fight. Ten months after losing to Taylor, she fulfilled a lifelong dream in capturing the WBC junior welterweight title from then champion Erica Anabella Farias in 2018. Then immediately became a unified champion after defeating elevated WBA champ Anahi Ester Sanchez to start 2019.
Becoming a unified champ in the next two fights after losing her first world title bid was great but she wanted more. To close out 2019, she defended her unified status in a rematch against Farias. Just like that in three straight fights just two years after her second loss, she solidified herself as a bonafide champion who was ready to take on the best again!
The beginning of 2020 was filled with uncertainty as the COVID-19 pandemic put everything in neutral. However, once boxing was able to resume, McCaskill got her well deserved career-changing opportunity by moving up in weight to face undisputed welterweight champion Cecilia “First Lady” Braekhus (36-1, 9ko).
This was a huge career move and it was going to be challenging. The First Lady was not only undefeated. She had been a world champion since 2009 and the first undisputed women’s champion in boxing history, holding the status since 2014. The reign brought 25 consecutive title defenses over an eleven year span! This undoubtedly made Braekhus the most dominant champion of this era and arguably in women’s boxing history. Furthermore, she unanimously held the #1 pound-4-pound spot for the women’s side of the sport.
If all of the above wasn’t enough, Braekhus was on the verge of breaking Hall of Fame heavyweight champion Joe Louis’ 72-year record of 25 consecutive title defenses. All she had to do is defeat McCaskill!
SEIZING THE MOMENT & DEFEATING DOMINANCE
Equally important, Braekhus was the more experienced fighter and the better boxer of the two. However, this meant absolutely nothing to McCaskill, as she once dropped a famous quote during an interview with 3kingboxing.com:
“She ain’t the Queen of Chicago.”
Keep in mind the First Lady had signed a nice contract with DAZN and Matchroom Boxing. This lining up a huge multi-division undisputed clash with McCaskill’s rival in Taylor down the line.
McCaskill was behind the eight ball going into the fight and was still able to throw a monkey wrench in those plans. Fueled by her past setbacks and hard-work to get to this moment, McCaskill took the fight to Braekhus. She would stop at nothing to make sure her had was raised at the end of the fight. Although her technique wasn’t the prettiest, sheer volume stifled the undisputed champion into becoming “gun-shy” the first half of the bout.
This would eventually prove to be enough as McCaskill earned a majority decision. In the process, she became the first woman to defeat an undisputed champion in boxing history! Given the caliber of fighter she defeated and the historic accolade she refused to be a statistic of, Jessica McCaskill is our pick for Female Fighter of the Year in 2020!
By: Garrisson Bland & EJ Williams