Braekhus breezes past Farias to hold on to her undisputed welter, P4P titles

Braekhus breezes past Farias By Diego Morilla

It was supposed to be her stiffest test to date, a fight against a legitimate champion who called her out repeatedly for the better part of two years and who made the trek from the other end of the world to challenge her. But in the end, Cecilia Braekhus’ life-or-death excursion on the shores of the North Sea turned out to be a smooth sailing experience as she simply dominated Erica Farias with relative ease in front of 15,000 local fans in her adoptive Bergen, Norway, on Friday, June 9.

Braekhus (31-0, 8 KO), a native of Colombia who lived almost her entire life in Norway, dominated the early rounds with relative ease against an increasingly frustrated Farias (24-2, 10 KO), the current WBC junior welterweight titlist from Argentina, scoring repeatedly with her jab and landing the occasional right cross. But it was her awkward uppercut the one punch that tilted the scales in her favor most often during that first half of the fight.

It took Farias at least five rounds to finally snap out of her lull and start mounting any kind of offensive output. When she finally managed to break away from the punch-and-clinch routine that became the norm during the first half of the bout, Farias began landing a few meaningful punches, with a three-punch salvo in round seven being her best moment up to then.

She then clearly took round eight with a more offensive and clean-punching performance, briefly chasing Braekhus all over the ring to establish her brief moment of dominance. But other than a spirited outburst towards the end of round nine, Farias simply surrendered her hard-earned momentum and allowed Braekhus to coast to victory in the tenth and final round.

Two scorecards had Braekhus ahead at 99-91, while the other one scored 98-92 (in consonance with this writer’s scorecard) for the winner and still undisputed welterweight champion and pound-for-pound queen of the female boxing universe. An emotional Braekhus broke in tears when Michael Buffer read the scorecards, finally lifting from her shoulders the responsibility of scoring a victory in front of her local fans and being the face of Norwegian boxing, a sport that she almost single-handedly resurrected after a decade-long ban in the country.

Referee Frank Michael Maass had his hands full during the bout, breaking numerous clinches and trying to keep the fight clean among two increasingly restless fighters, who although fell short of engaging in a dirty fight, nevertheless resorted to eventual dirty tactics such as the occasional shoulder push or punching during the break. No points were deducted from either fighter.

“I had an accident in my right hand this morning and I will ask for a rematch against Braekhus,” said Farias after the fight, in an interview with Argentine radio show La Sal del Boxeo. “Cecilia’s tears at the end of the fight were there because she was truly worried, she always respected me and she knew that she was the No. 1 and I was No. 2.”

The win confirms Braekhus, 35, as the best female fighter in the world, bar none. She is now officially almost out of meaningful challenges in her weight class with the possible exception of Layla McCarter, and beyond that she must wait until a new obvious threat emerges at 147 to continue her run, or even ponder an unlikely jump in weight classes.

Meanwhile, the loss opens the possibility for the 32-years old Farias to drop down once again to the 140-pound division for yet another dream matchup for all the marbles, this time against her compatriot Ana Laura Esteche, fresh from her triple championship (WBA, IBF and WBO defense against Celeste Peralta in their exciting rubber match. An Esteche-Farias unification bout in Argentina would break all records and generate huge interest in Argentina, and would give Farias an unprecedented second immediate chance of winning all four major title belts in one fight.

Braekhus breezes past Farias