Cecilia Braekhus in L.A.
It has been a banner year for the woman known as the “First Lady”. The 37 year-old Cecilia Braekhus (34-0, 9KO) of Norway is getting ready to fight for the third time in this calendar year and second time in Los Angeles, California, this Saturday night. The scheduled ten-round fight against Aleksandra Magdziak Lopes (18-4-3, 1KO) will be an historic event since it will be the first time a female fight will headline a broadcast on HBO. The night will be presented by 360 Promotions.
Also on the card will be Claressa Shields defending her WBC, WBA and IBF middleweight titles against Femke Hermans on the televised portion of the card.
It has been a year of firsts for the undisputed and undefeated welterweight champion including having her training camp in sunny LA.
“In Norway right now it is really cold now, its winter and there is snow and over here it is sunny and warm,” she explained in an exclusive interview with the all-female boxing podcast 2Min Round. “I am from a country with six million people and only in LA there is much more than that. Everything is much bigger over here. That is something I have to adjust to. This isn’t my first time in LA but I am still getting settled and I am getting taken care of so well by my team and people here. This is kind of like my second home now. I am having a great camp here and I am really enjoying life now.”
“Training is going great,” she continued. “I have my coach Jonathan Banks here and my sparring partner including Maricela Cornejo. I think it is important to have hungry girls in the gym. It is another mentality and I like to surround myself with people that work hard to achieve their goals. Me and Maricela are doing some great work in the gym. She is much bigger so I have to be careful and I have to use my movement and be extremely focused. She has some good heavy punches and she is bigger so I have to be careful and on my toes. I think this is really good because I have to be so concentrated and focused every second. She is coming off a loss so she is hungry and determined to be back. We are doing some great stuff in the gym.”
McCaskill, Serrano or Lopes
Back in May at the StubHub Center in Carson, CA, Braekhus was the first woman featured on an HBO card when she shared the bill with then middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin as he stopped Vanes Martirosyan in two. Braekhus went 10 grueling rounds with Kali Reis and was even sent to the canvas for the first time in her illustrious career in the seventh. Braekhus still won the fight via a unanimous decision with scores of 97-92 and 96-93 twice.
“That was amazing,” she said of the fight. “I am used to co-headlining events all over the world. Norway, Denmark, Russia, you name it but the StubHub was special. It was outside and the crowd was a real boxing crowd. They know their boxing, they love boxing and it was an amazing atmosphere. The fight was a thriller and my next fight will be nothing less. I am really looking forward to coming back and really show of what I am capable of.”
In Magdziak Lopes, originally of Poland but fighting out of Marshfield, Massachusetts, Braekhus will be facing a fighter who has lost four times before but only to world-class opposition including the aforementioned Reis, Tori Nelson, Mikaela Lauren and Ewa Piatkowska. Magdziak Lopes owns wins over Reis, Szilvia Szabados, Paty Ramirez, Lisa Noel Garland and Natasha Spence.
She wasn’t the first choice for Braekhus. It was rumored a fight against the current WBC light welterweight champion Jessica McCaskill was all but done before Magdziak-Lopes was officially announced as her next opponent.
“We looked to get a world champion for this fight in December 8th both down and up in weight,” she said with a giggle. “Unfortunately we got the message that this could not be done on this particular date. Next year we are going back to those negotiations. Both were world champions in the division under me and above me, for me I don’t care, it just has to make sense, the whole package.”
“I told him (Tom Loeffler, who is the promoter of the night as well as Braekhus’) I wanted Kali Reis for my first fight on HBO,” she explained. “I asked him to give Jessica McCaskill for December 8th. That was after we tried for Amanda Serrano but Eddie Hearn gave her a great offer for the DAZN. I am so happy for her and that we are not losing her to MMA. That meant she could not be my opponent for December 8th so we offered McCaskill but there was some things that needed to be done on her side like a rematch clause or she has an agreement with Eddie. There were a lot of things that needed to be resolved at that point. We just didn’t have time to wait for that. Luckily we had a very exciting name in Lopes. She actually was supposed to fight in November but she turned down that fight to say yes to us on December 8th and that says a lot about her commitment to this.”
Another goal for Braekhus in the upcoming year, her 12th as professional fighter, is to fight in Las Vegas, Nevada long considered the epicenter of the sport in the world. “I would love to do that, absolutely, and one of the fights that can be done is against Cyborg.”
Brazilian Cristiane Justino Venancio, better known as Cyborg, is a mixed martial artist currently signed to the UFC. A fight against her has been mentioned numerous times not only by Braekhus but also by Cyborg herself as the female version of Mayweather vs. McGregor.
“That would be a mega match,” she continued. “That is a fight that can go anywhere in the world but I imagine something like that in Las Vegas. That would be huge. I definitely still dream of going to Las Vegas. Right now I still have to focus on my next date but for sure there is always the dream to go there.”
Always competitive Braekhus says that Cyborg is not the only name she has on her sights.
“What is happening now in professional boxing for women is amazing, it is just exploding,” she explained. “You have Claressa defending her titles this week, you have Katie Taylor, you have Amanda Serrano, I can basically go on and on. All these fights would be huge fights for women boxing.”
Despite nearing 40, Braekhus has every intention in staying as busy as she has in the last couple of years with her fight on December 8th on HBO her third of the year matching her activity in 2017.
“Absolutely,” she answered when asked if she would stay as busy in 2019. “if you go back a couple of years in my career and you just take out the year I was out when I broke my foot, I always fight three or four times a year. That is what I like to do, I like to stay busy. There are so many exciting female fighters I would like to share the ring with also. If I could fight even more I would but I am definitely going for three fights next year if I can stay healthy and everything goes as planned.”
Braekhus also mentioned the ratio with two fights in the states and one in Europe is what she has planned for 2019. “Yes, in my home country I am headlining boxing shows there in some big venues. We are planning on going back to Norway again; we sold out ten thousand tickets there the last time. We are planning on going back to Norway again in 2019 and definitely fighting here in the states.”
Braekhus, along with Lopes as far as we know, would be the last fight televised by HBO in their 45 year career in the sport and is the first female fight to ever headline one of their telecasts. It is a fact that does not go unnoticed by the considered pound for pound queen of boxing. Since her last fight on the network, a major player in female boxing has emerged in the DAZN streaming app. Will we see Braekhus featured there?
“We have to of course fulfill our commitment to HBO,” she said. “I am very happy with everything Tom (Loeffler) has done for me. He put the first women fight on HBO; we now have a female bout headlining HBO, first time ever. Right now that is all I am focused on and I am so ready. I am just going to bring a great show. I am so honored to get the show and I promise not to disappoint.”
To listen to the complete interview, please visit BlogTalkRadio.com/2MinRound