Saturday night in Tulsa, long-reigning undisputed welterweight champion Cecilia Braekhus dropped her four belts in a debatable and controversial majority decision to Jessica McCaskill, signaling the end of an era in women’s boxing.
Braekhus has in the past had some back-and-forth in the media with Claressa Shields, who called herself “The GWOAT,” and it’s true that Shields has never exactly been knowing for her statements of respect to other women’s fighters, preferring a trash-talking method more often than not.
But Shields seemed to not only feel Braekhus probably deserved the win, saying that the fight was “too close to give it to the challenger” — which operates on nonsensical boxing thinking, but that’s another story — but she expressed sincere respect for the 38-year-old Braekhus after the announcement of the narrow defeat, the first of Braekhus’ career.
“Damn [Cecilia], you are classy!” Shields Tweeted after a post-fight interview with Braekhus where the ex-champion hinted that she may not return to the ring.
“What a champion,” Shields continued. “Gracious in defeat as you are in winnning. That speech just made me tear up. Good role model for women’s boxing.”
Shields also admitted she’s “got some beef” with Braekhus, but that she “felt” the speech and it made her tear up.
Braekhus (36-1, 9 KO) was out-worked by McCaskill (9-2, 3 KO) on Saturday, with two of the three judges preferring McCaskill’s activity over Braekhus’ accuracy.
There had been some hope over the last couple years that Braekhus could go up to 154 pounds to fight Shields (10-0, 2 KO), who has dominated since turning pro in 2016, after winning Olympic gold medals in 2012 and 2016. That is likely off now, unless Braekhus decides to fight on. Shields-Braekhus would still be a big fight for women’s boxing, and maybe the biggest fight Shields can make still.
Shields was supposed to face Marie Eve Dicaire in May, but the fight was postponed. The two are still expected to fight sometime late this summer or in early autumn. The fight would unify three titles at 154 pounds.