Jessica McCaskill Defeats Argentina’s Erica Farias
By David A. Avila
Chicago has its own world champion as Jessica “CasKilla” McCaskill upset long-time champion Erica “La Pantera” Arias by changing up attacks and winning the WBC super lightweight world title by unanimous decision on Saturday.
In a fairytale fight McCaskill (6-2, 3 KOs) hustled her way to obtain a place in the fight card and then proceeded to out-punch Argentina’s veteran Farias (26-3, 10 KOs) and take the WBC title before a boisterous crowd at Wintrust Arena in Chicago.
She becomes the first female world champion from Chicago and one of the few boxers male or female in more than 70 years from the Windy City according to our research. Carlos Molina held a world title briefly in 2013 and before that Tony Zale was the last world champion from Chicago before he lost the middleweight title to Marcel Cerdan in 1948.
It was a struggle for McCaskill just to get on the fight card.
The Chicago fighter’s team lobbied furiously Matchroom Boxing and then showed why it was a worthy choice. McCaskill could not be denied especially having performed so well against Ireland’s Katie Taylor when they fought last year. Promoter Eddie Hearn saw her in action last December.
She did not disappoint.
“We jumped at the opportunity to get this fight,” said McCaskill, 34.
McCaskill also charged out quickly against Farias from the first bell and did not allow the veteran to get her footing. Both exchanged power blows and skirmished quickly for the first two rounds. Farias seemed to land the cleaner blows in the first and second rounds but McCaskill landed some body shots and right hands that kept the Argentine fighter honest.
“My determination and continuously coming forward kept me in the lead,” described McCaskill succinctly.
Farias began blocking and countering against the Chicago native in the third round and it proved effective and slightly frustrating for McCaskill. It was the Argentine’s best round.
McCaskill worked the body effectively in the fourth round and when Farias countered with left hooks to the head, the Chicago fighter continued to attack the body. It seemed to concern Farias when she returned to her corner.
It was in the fifth round that McCaskill found the right antidote for Farias. Using more feints and distance the Chicago fighter bobbed and weaved after landing combination punches, then slipped the return fire. It proved to be very successful. When McCaskill connected with a left uppercut and right cross combination, it seemed to stun the Argentine fighter.
Uppercuts by McCaskill just could not miss. And when she followed the uppercuts with overhand rights it was the cleanest blows landed by either fighter up until the seventh round. Though McCaskill was landing flush, Farias was able to absorb the power but was unable to counter effectively.
The momentum changed dramatically.
Despite having a very short amateur career that began in her late 20s, McCaskill showed that as a professional, she has learned quickly while on the job. Her trainer Rick Ramos was giving her sound advice throughout the fight.
Farias corner knew that the fight had turned and told their charge that she needed to step up with the combinations. She tried.
During the last three rounds McCaskill took control of the fight and was able to hit and slip. Uppercuts and overhand rights were connecting cleanly and though Farias tried hard to counter, she just couldn’t find the solution for McCaskill, especially for those right uppercuts and overhand right combinations.
In the final round Farias gave her best effort, but even in the 10th round McCaskill maintained that look of belonging with the elite. And when the announcement of “new world champion” was shouted to the crowd, it sent shivers through the crowd and even the announcers. The scores were 98-92, 97-93 and 96-94 for McCaskill.
“I’m so happy to bring this win and world title to Chicago,” said McCaskill proudly.
McCaskill, an investment banker by day and boxer by night, now stands alongside the names Tony Zale, Barney Ross and Carlos Molina. They’re the few but mighty world champions from Chicago. And that’s a big deal.