Boxing’s “First Lady” Cecilia Braekhus (25-0, 7 KO’s) remained undefeated and retained the WBO, WBC, and WBA welterweight championships with a unanimous 10 round decision over Jessica Balogun (24-4, 12 KO’s) in a repeat performance of their 2012 contest in Schwerin, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany.
Though she was a game opponent, the challenger was one step behind Braekhus through the bout, with the champ using her edge in speed and superior boxing ability to land scoring blows and get out of range, avoiding the counter shots thrown by Balogun, and rarely getting hit clean. Scores of the contest were 98-92, 100-90, and 99-91, all in favor of Cecilia Braekhus; a wider margin than she scored in the two’s first meeting two years ago.
The victory marks Braekhus’ 14th overall title defense. She won the WBA and WBC belts in 2009 and picked up the WBO strap the following year. Balogun is a former title holder for the WIBA and GBU as a welterweight and also held the junior welterweight title for the GBU early in her career. In March she fought Christina Hammer for the WBF and WBO middleweight titles, but was shut out over 10 rounds.
In amateur news, Irish Olympian Katie Taylor won her sixth consecutive gold at the 2014 EUBC Women’s Elite Championships in Bucharest. Taylor defeated French champion Estelle Mossely in the final contest after Mossely secured her spot with an upset in the semi-final bout over Russia’s Sofya Ochigava. Taylor was at a disadvantage in height and reach, but as Irish Times boxing correspondent Johnny Watterson reported from ringside, “Taylor’s movement and tempo were unmatched”, and “Taylor’s speed and power were too much. Her left jab was the first scoring shot in the opening round, consistently beating her French opponent to the punch.” Taylor now looks forward to the World Championships later this year and has her sights set on the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
Back to the pro’s, a triple header of women’s action took place in East London, South Africa, headlined by Noni Tenge (14-1-1, 10) and Oxandia Castillo (12-2-2, 9 KO’s) in a contest for the interim WBA welterweight crown. Tenge pulled out a close majority decision, securing her third straight win and third world title. She’s a former WBF and IBF welterweight champ, and challenged Layla McCarter for the WBA light middleweight title in 2012, but was stopped in eight rounds. Castillo won the WBO light middleweight title in February of 2013 but has yet to defend the belt. Prior to this contest she was stopped in nine rounds by Cecilia Braekhus in September of last year.
In the accompanying bouts, Nwabisa Mbopa (2-0) won a 10 round decision over Rita Mrwebi (5-7, 1 KO) to win the South African super middleweight title and Nozwelethu Mathontsi (4-0) defeated Lisbeth Sivhaga (4-1-1, 2 KO’s) to win the South African light flyweight title.
French super bantamweight title holder Karine Rinaldo (10-1-1, 3 KO’s) won the vacant EBU super bantamweight crown, stopping Marianna Gulyas (12-18, 2 KO’s) on one round. Gulyas has now lost six of her last seven outings.
This Saturday, UBF International super bantamweight champion Heather “The Heat” Hardy (9-0, 2 KO’s) will face New York State and WIBA world title challenger Jackie Trivilino (9-7-3, 1 KO) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The scheduled eight round contest is one of the night’s opening bouts on a card featuring Ruslan Provodnikov vs. Chris Algieri and Demetrius Andrade vs. Brian Rose in the televised feature contests.