Cecilia Braekhus and Claressa Shields Lead Powerful Card at StubHub
By David A. Avila
LOS ANGELES-Cecilia Braekhus leads a trio of female prize fights that descend on the StubHub Center in an historic show of force on Saturday Dec. 8.
Not since 2003 have two or more female bouts packed as much impact. But it’s finally going to happen again.
Claressa Shields (7-0) adds her muscle to the 360 Promotions card defending her WBC, WBA and IBF middleweight titles against Belgium’s Femke Hermans (9-1) while Braekhus (34-0) defends against Aleksandra Lopes-Magdziak (18-4-3) for the welterweight championship. HBO will televise.
Sadly, the atomweight bout between Australia’s Louisa “Bang Bang” Hawton and California’s Lorraine Villalobos will not be included on the televised portion. But it just might be the fight of the night when everything is concluded.
The last time two female fights of this quality took place on the same L.A. card was in 2003. It was the Staples Center undercard of Lennox Lewis versus Vitali Klitschko in a heavyweight world title fight. It would also be Lewis’s last fight. He retired after making a victorious defense of the title.
That same night on June 21, 2003, two of the greatest female fighters of all time fought on separate bouts as Laila Ali defeated Valerie Mahfood while Lucia Rijker beat Jane Couch. Not coincidently Tom Loeffler, who now heads 360 Promotions, was responsible for putting them on the card. He just couldn’t get them televised.
“I was begging HBO,” said Loeffler at the media conference at the Sheraton Gateway on Thursday.
Here we are 15 years later and finally Loeffler gets his wish.
“It’s such an honor for me to do the last HBO boxing show,” said Loeffler whose boxing involvement goes back to the early 1990s. “This is the last HBO official broadcast.”
Since 1973 the HBO network has telecast boxing and built its fan base on the sport. Now it ends its 45-year run in historic fashion featuring two of the best female prizefighters in the world today.
Braekhus was the first female to ever be televised on HBO when she defeated Kali Reis last May 5, at the same StubHub Center. It was a remarkable accomplishment and now she returns to cap the end HBO’s reign.
“I am honored to be fighting in the main event in the last night of their illustrious 45-year history of excellence in televising professional boxing,” said Braekhus, 37, an amazing fighter from Norway. “Aleksandra (Magdziak) is a very tough opponent and I know I will have to be at my best to come out victorious.”
Magdziak has a stand up style like most Europeans and has an accurate right cross that she uses effectively. She has a win over Kali Reis who gave Braekhus a struggle when they clashed on Cinco de Mayo.
“This is a huge challenge for me, Cecilia is a great fighter. I’m very thankful for this opportunity. Thanks very much to Tom Loeffler and 360 Promotions and to HBO for having me,” said Magdziak.
Braekhus set a record for the most wins without a loss in the female boxing world and is considered the top female fighter pound for pound by many publications. Her right cross is deadly accurate and she has supreme confidence.
“My fights are always exciting and this Saturday night will be nothing less at the StubHub Center, site of so many memorable outstanding fights,” Braekhus said.
Shields vs Hermans
The indomitable Shields barely fought several weeks ago and immediately accepted an offer to be part of the HBO final boxing card.
“Something like this has never happened before. Cecilia Braekhus truly broke the glass ceiling by fighting on HBO the first time in May,” said Shields, 23, whose last fight was on Nov. 17, a dominating win over Hannah Rankin. “I’m happy to appear on this card with her and proud that she is in the main event. It truly gives me something to strive for, to someday headline a big show like this. Cecilia has worked very hard for many years and has deserved everything she’s gotten.”
Hermans, 28 is a former world champion and is a former super middleweight world titlist and this is her fifth fight of the year.
“I had a fight in September and was in great shape and was ready when they called. I’m very excited to fight Claressa, it’s going to be a great night of boxing,” said Hermans who currently has the WBO super middleweight world title but is dropping down in weight to challenge Shields. ““I’ve watched a few of her fights and know there are some things I do well which will bother her. She’s at a high level so I can’t make any mistakes against her.”
Shields now trains with John David Jackson and the new focus on slowing down and setting up punches has made the two-time Olympic gold medalist a deadly force inside the boxing ring.
“Femke is a very good fighter and seems like a nice girl but come Saturday night it’s going to be war between us,” said Shields with a smile.
Lawton vs Villalobos
Atomweight contender Louisa Lawton was set to fight Mexico’s Brenda Flores in a rematch for the WBC title, but the Tijuana-based fighter pulled out due to a throat infection. Now Lawton (8-2) meets Lorraine Villalobos (2-1-1) a talented fighter out of Los Angeles.
“I’m super hyped to be part of this card,” said Lawton of Australia. “Three champions are on this card.”
The last time Lawton set foot in a boxing ring she was involved in a tremendous firefight with Mexico’s Flores. Though Lawton lost by split decision that fight with Flores is a candidate for Female Fight of the Year. Fans were left awed by the ferocious exchanges the two 102-pound females exchanged that night.
“They stole the show,” said Loeffler.
Can history repeat?
Tickets are still available and begin at $25. It’s going to be good.
(Photo by Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos)