Terri Harper Wants Put on a Masterclass Against Cecilia Braekhus
Up next for Terri Harper (13-1-1, 6 KOs) is arguably the most high-profile bout of her career. On May 20, she makes the first defense of the WBA women’s junior middleweight title against former long-reigning undisputed welterweight champion Cecilia “First Lady” Braekhus (37-2, 9 KOs) at 3Arena in Dublin, Ireland. For the defending champion, this is a chance to gain a signature win and take another step upward from the darkest moment of her career.
CHANGE IS GOOD
In November 2021, Harper lost the WBC junior lightweight title by fourth-round stoppage to Alycia Baumgardner. It was a shocking defeat and a bitter disappointment. Gutted and full of despair, she reevaluated her career and made a drastic decision.
Feeling that fighting at junior lightweight was taking a toll on her body, in 2022, Harper decided to fight at a higher weight, going from 130 to 154 pounds. The benefits were immediate for the 26-year-old. In her debut fight at junior middleweight in September 2022, she defeated Hannah Rankin to win the WBA crown. During an interview with Matchroom Boxing, Harper detailed the benefits of fighting at a higher division.
“I used to nap for hours in between sessions because I was so tired and fatigued and just trying to not think about food. Whereas now I’m full of energy, full of life, and I come into the gym, and I can feel my concentration levels are there.”
“I used to focus on the weight, and the best day for me was weigh-in day, which it shouldn’t be. It should be on fight night and whereas that’s what I look forward to the most now is fight night, and putting on a good show and a good performance for everyone.”
UNDERSTANDING WHAT SHE’S UP AGAINST
She now faces a Braekhus, who has established herself as one of the best fighters of the past decade and a future Hall of Famer. Some insiders feel the 41-year-old challenger has seen her best days.
But Harper is taking nothing for granted. She understands that Braekhus has tons of experience and plenty of skill. However, the WBA champion feels that with a renewed sense of self in and out of the ring, she will show that her superiority will show itself on fight night.
“I truly believe that whoever I get in the ring with now, I beat. I feel like I’ll be really unstoppable now at this heavier weight and the confidence that I’ve got with it.”
“I’m expecting the best version of Cecilia on the night. But I truly believe my youth and my hunger, I need to use that as an advantage and go in on a masterclass, really. Just be strong and dominant from the start and not let Cecilia get into a rhythm . . . I just want to go out there and box well, box smart, and just outwork her.”