Jessica McCaskill talks about Katie Taylor, Amanda Serrano and more
By Felipe Leon
Despite having less than 10 professional fights under her newly minted WBC green and gold belt, 34 year-old Jessica McCaskill (6-2, 3KO) feels her winning the 140-pound world title in her last fight was a long time coming.
“Rick (Ramos) and I we put ourselves at such a top level mentally anyway, we had been telling people we belong at this level for so long that we are ready for the next,” said McCaskill hinting about future plans in an exclusive interview with the all-female boxing podcast 2-Min Round. “It is great but now I am looking forward to next part of my career.”
The Chicago, Illinois, resident is coming off the biggest win of her career when last October 6th she thrilled her hometown fans at the Wintrust Arena of the windy city and took a unanimous decision over the tough Erica Anabella Farias (26-3, 10KO) of Argentina to capture the coveted green and gold strap.
“I thought I had it in the bag. I wasn’t really concerned,” McCaskill, an investment banker by day, said confidently of the win. “There was a little bit of a flash of London where there was such a wide score and I didn’t get the decision. I thought my performance was very well and my team thought so too so, we were pretty confident in the fight.”
Her trainer and manager Rick Ramos was as confident if not more as his prized pupil got the win over the long-time champion.
“The WBC has a new rule now,” he said from Chicago via telephone with co-host David Avila. “There is open scoring so to be honest I knew where we were once the fight was over. They give you the scorecards after the fourth round and they give you the scorecards after the eighth round. I knew where the fight was called but I didn’t tell Jessica what the scores were. I let that be announced out loud but we were confident. After the fifth round I was comfortable for sure.”
The fight card which featured the draw between former champion Jessie Vargas and Thomas Dulorme in the main event was the first event presented by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing USA on DAZN in the United States. Surprisingly, despite McCaskill being a hometown favorite, she was not planned to be on the card from its inception.
“I started to get a lot of emails, text messages and phone calls from the boxing media and they were saying Katie Taylor was going to come to Chicago and they were asking if it was going to be Taylor against Jessica,” Ramos explained. “There was a lot of talk and I don’t want to say it got under my skin but it did bother me a little bit that they were going to come here and set up shop in our city and I didn’t get a phone call. I considered myself one of the bigger names here in Chicago so I was upset because of that. I did some interviews saying how I felt and I don’t know if it was coincidental or not but we got the call.”
Eddie Hearn reached out to me and asked us to go to the press conference,” the trainer/manager continued. “We started talking and he asked if we wanted to get on. He asked what we wanted to do and he offered an easy fight to get the crowd going in Chicago but we wanted a real fight. He mentioned (Victoria Noelia) Bustos and we accepted. I think he was surprised by our quick response. For whatever reason that fight fell through, but Erica Farias came up and obviously we stuck with it. We got the fight on two-week notice. We wanted to perform, we wanted to shine and we jumped on it.”
McCaskill herself didn’t care who was in the opposing corner come fight day since she had not seen action since her loss to former Olympian and now world champion Katie Taylor back in December. “At that time I was ready to fight anybody and anybody that was going to give me a good reputable fight. Anything they offered we were good to go.”
With the City of Neighborhoods crowd behind her, McCaskill said she actually had fun trading punches with Farias with obviously the end result being walking away with the world title.
“It was actually a really fun fight. I don’t know if fighters say things like that. Maybe sparring is fun for some people but the fight was fun for me. It really tested my creativity,” McCaskill said. “People talk about ring rust but I don’t think I had ring rust at all. It was more so my anxiousness to punch somebody if that makes sense. My first couple of rounds my team was saying I was loading up on my punches and that I was going too hard, going too fast and that I was telegraphing. I just wanted to get in there a brawl a little bit. After I was ready to bring that back in the next couple of rounds I was able to find that sweet spot and settle in. I was able to move around and show what we have been working on for the last ten months.”
By the fight’s end McCaskill was ready to go more which she attributes to the hard work her and her team put inside and outside the gym. “I could probably have gone another five rounds or so. Our training is pretty intense, we have strength and conditioning multiple times a week, sparring multiple times a week, I am in the gym every day, I am running anywhere from two to six miles broken up through out the day on a regular five-day week.”
“We have been doing a lot of work on our side; we have been sparring with a couple of national amateurs and pro fighters,” she continued. “We have been doing our homework; we have been putting in the work on our side. I wasn’t afraid of getting tired at all. I was more concerned with settling in properly and not looking sloppy. I didn’t want to look like I didn’t belong at that level. I wanted to look sharp, I wanted the other boxers in the crowd and the commentators to see the skill that I have.”
What is next for McCaskill is still up in the air according to her trainer and manager.
“We need to sit down with Eddie Hearn and find out what is the next plan,” Ramos said. “Erica does have an exercise clause with us, she wasn’t too happy about coming to Chicago and defending her belt so we don’t know if she is going to exercise her right to a rematch. We’ll see what happens, if she decides to take it obviously it will be different. I think we will just jump on her right away and try to be the first one to stop her. If she doesn’t, there are other names out there. There is Katie Taylor; she can come up to 140.
“We can fight the other Argentinean girl, Esteche. She has the WBO, we would love to fight her and get two belts in the weight class and then have Katie come up,” he continued. “I think Katie’s plan is to come up eventually. That would be a phenomenal fight for female boxing, a rematch with Katie Taylor. We can go back down to 135, it depends. We won the title so I feel we hit out target. Our goal is not necessarily keep the title, we did it, it was a goal and we hit it. There are money fights out there, there are bigger opportunities. Serrano is interesting; I would love to have that conversation with Lou DiBella about Serrano. The only way to be in the Hall of Fame is to beat Hall of Famers. She is in the Hall of Fame for sure. That would be a good fight, I think that would be a fight that would turn us on and turn on the boxing public. This might sound crazy but we would even think about looking at Cecilia (Braekhus). I think Cecilia is extremely beatable. If her fight against Kali Reis was two more rounds, Cecilia might have been out of there. If we would get an opportunity like that, we would just jump on Cecilia. I think Jessica’s style would be too much for Cecilia. 135, 140, 147, there is a lot of fights. No disrespect to any of the women I mentioned, those are 50-50 fights, I don’t care about records, and those are 50-50 fights.”
McCaskill’s road to a world title has been quite unique. At the age of 24 after a friend gifted her a month long membership to a kickboxing class, McCaskill opted for boxing and that embarked her on the wild ride she is on today. After a short amateur career culminated with two national Golden Gloves awards, McCaskill turned pro in the summer of 2015.
“I have always been a fitness junkie, I have always been in the gym and I have always played sports as a child,” she explained. “The sport aspect was not new it was just about what sport I was going to get involved in.”
Ramos was impressed when McCaskill knocked down one of his amateur champions in their first sparring session. Ramos then knew he had something special in his hands. “Once she dropped my Golden Gloves champion then I knew she was serious. After the first I realized she could fight.”
Despite having the WBC 140-pound title strap around her waist McCaskill seems to be much more interested in exacting her revenge on the fighter who last beat her, WBA and IBF lightweight champion Katie Taylor.
“I would definitely be interested in a Katie Taylor fight at either weight,” she said matter-of-factly. “People usually ask me what I took away from that fight I think we did a great job in preparing for that fight and executing things we wanted to. We came away from a loss but we rocked her a couple of times and I think we gave her a really good fight. Any loss is considered the one that got away but Katie Taylor is still somebody that is on the radar.”
To listen to the full interview, please visit BlogTalkRadio.com/2MinRound