Cecilia Braekhus Prepared for Tough Challenge from Erica Farias
By Phil Woolever
What could be one of the best women’s championship matches in years is scheduled for Saturday night in Bergen, Norway before a big crowd, as unified welterweight titlist Cecilia Braekhus faces highly respected challenger Erica Farias, the current WBC super-lightweight belt holder.
The undefeated Braekhus, 30 – 0 (8 KO), is considered by most reasonable observers as the current top female pound for pound boxer, a distinction the 35 year old fighter has held for years now.
That’s not to say Farias, 24-1 (10) isn’t a very live underdog. The 32- year old Argentinian, known as “La Pantera” earned her nickname through fierce, effective aggression. Recent footage of Farias in training indicates she certainly won’t be a pushover.
Still, Braekhus must be considered a pretty solid favorite. She continues to refine her excellent overall skills under Johnathon Banks, the Emanuel Steward protégé who works with Wladimir Klitschko. There’s been nothing in recent performances to indicate Braekhus has lost any of her competitive fire after 10 years as a pro.
“Erica is the toughest opponent of my career,” said Braekhus while training in Spain. “Camp has been terrific with Johnathon. This is our fourth fight together and I’m learning a great deal from him. In my last three fights I’ve become much more of an aggressive fighter. He’s truly brought that out in me, more of an American and Detroit style.”
The rivals have a common, quality opponent in Klara Svensson, who was 15 – 0 when Farias ended Svensson’s undefeated streak in May of 2015 by unanimous decision. Braekhus also won a UD 10, by a wider margin, last February but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything in regard to Saturday’s clash.
Farias may find herself stronger after moving up in weight, but it probably won’t be enough. The contest will, most likely, shape up with the 5’7 1/2 Braekhus moving forward to take control immediately behind her strong jab and nearly 4-inch reach advantage.
The more the 5’4 Farias tries to press the action, the more open to big counters she’ll be. The bad news for Farias is that pressing the action is her only, slim chance. Unless this becomes one of those situations where a champion grows old in the ring, it’s unlikely Farias can out-box Braekhus. The most likely scenario is a wide unanimous decision for Braekhus, with a score around 99-92.
Braekhus’s dominance of the European women’s scene is unlikely to change any time soon, or at least until rising stars like Katie Tayor evolve or until she ventures to America and meets Layla McCarter or Claressa Shields. Perhaps if the future holds true, a global women’s super-fight at some catch-weight between Braekhus and one of those potential stars.
For now, Braekhus sounds quite confident with her elite status, but she understands she can’t get too comfortable.
“I know Farias is coming for all my belts and I’m up to the challenge,” promised Braekhus. This is my true homecoming as I’ve lived in Bergen since the age of two. We’re expecting a huge crowd of close to 15,000 fans. No way I won’t be ready.”