Oslo Onslaught : Cecilia Braekhus – Mikaela Lauren II
By Phil Woolever
Heading into their rematch, welterweight champion Cecilia Braekhus looks as calm and confident as ever while cool as ice challenger Mikaela Lauren acts like she’s definitely ready to shake things up when the two tangle this Saturday, October 21st in Stokke, Norway.
Braekhus’ multiple belts will each be on the line.
Norway’s “First Lady” Braekhus (31-0, 8 KOs), dominated their initial, 2010 encounter and scored a 7th round TKO. “Destiny” Lauren (29-4, 13 KOs), promises that’s all in the past.
Lauren caught Braekhus more off-guard at this week’s press conference than she ever has in the ring. As the pair posed in a stare down, Lauren leaned in and pecked Braekhus square on the kisser.
Braekhus pushed Lauren away with a light slapping motion, but the champion kept laughing after the prank and responded, “Thank you, I haven’t got that in a while!”
Lauren pulled the same stunt on Christina Hammer a few years back. The psych move always seems good for some extra press coverage, but it didn’t work against Hammer and it didn’t seem to faze Braekhus.
“I think Mikaela takes this more seriously than I do,” said Braekhus earlier. “It’s very important for her. For me it’s just another title defense.”
“She is crazy and unpleasant,” countered Lauren. “I just want to get her in the ring again. When we fought, I had only been boxing for a year. It was way too early. Now I’ve been training hard to prove I have become much better. It’s a great opportunity for me to get many belts at the same time.”
Braekhus shrugged off Lauren’s criticism with a laugh, but there was also a strong sense of intended punishment to come.
“She has called me everything from diva to thick,” observed Braekhus with a determined glare.
This will be Braekhus’ third defense in 2017 of her multiple belts, all against solid challengers. Braekhus is coming off a 10 round, near shutout unanimous decision in June over Erica Anabella Farias and notched another wide, unanimous decision win over Klara Svensson last February. Their combined records were 41-2.
Lauren hasn’t faced nearly the same level of opposition, overall or recently. Last April she won a six round unanimous decision over Kita Watkins, whose record was 7-14 coming in. Prior to that, Lauren scored a technical knockout win in the sixth against Szilvia Szabados (14-7) in December 2016. Lauren lost a unanimous decision after 10 rounds to Svensson on September 16.
“I have incredible respect for Cecilia as a boxer, but I think her development has stagnated,” jabbed Lauren. “I have no respect for her as a person. She is a tiresome diva who thinks she’s better than everyone else, very fake. I heard from other fighters that there are many in Norway who do not like her.”
On paper, Braekhus-Lauren 2 appears to be a stay busy type fight for Braekhus until a bigger challenge comes through, and some holiday money for both.
The chances that sooner or later, the blabber about a potential catch-weight super fight for Braekhus against someone like Hammer or Claressa Shields will ever come to fistic fruition are currently a coin-flip.
But there’s no coin to toss about prefight probability in Braekhus – Lauren II. Braekhus should be at least a 3-1 favorite.
The 5’10 Lauren has around a 2½ inch reach advantage. She will have to employ it very aggressively, as in almost non-stop, against the 5’ 7 ½ Braekhus to have any chance of an upset.
Whether there is enough actual animosity to generate a stoppage either way seems possible. The two most crucial questions regarding Saturday’s result each involve time.
Has enough time passed for Lauren to reach Braekhus’ elite level?
How many more superb performances does the 36-year-old Braekhus have left in her?
It will take a near perfect effort from the 41-year-old Lauren for her to emerge victorious.
“Maybe she thinks I’m still the same fighter I was seven years ago, but I wouldn’t even call myself a boxer back then. When Braekhus feels my power she won’t be so cocky,” said Lauren.
As some may find on a cold Norwegian night, Father Time can still be a mother.