Cecilia Braekhus Duplicates Her Destruction of Mikaela Lauren
By Phil Woolever
Cecilia Braekhus proved she hasn’t lost her edge by repeating a dominant performance against brave but over-matched Mikaela Lauren with a 6th round TKO at the crowded Oslofjord Convention Center in Stokke, Norway on Saturday.
Except for a complete switch in the opposite black – white shirt and trunks color the fighters sported during their 2010 battle, the bout’s patterns were remarkably identical.
Braekhus, a consensus, multi-belt champion who needs an entourage simply to carry her assorted hardware, finished the job a round earlier this time, once again with a brutal, finishing punch sequence. The resulting knockdown was almost an exact replay from the initial encounter.
“Mikaela talked a lot since our first fight. I promised a knockout and I delivered,” said Braekhus, (32-0, 9 KOs), at the post-fight conference. “She spent too much time getting me inspired and not enough actually fighting. Now she knows that such antics do not affect me.”
Lauren (29-4, 13 KOs) applied pressure from various angles but Braekhus employed superior timing and distance. She leaned back on her right leg to avoid Lauren’s assault then sprang forward with solid leverage for powerful counters.
Lauren’s face showed lumps from the punishment. Braekhus was relatively unmarked though Lauren did land sporadically. Both women stayed busy and displayed excellent conditioning through a battle that was somewhat tamer than it’s buildup.
Braekhus gave Lauren another boxing lesson, but nobody needs to teach the challenger about toughness or guts. She never stopped pressing forward or throwing after she got tagged.
Lauren was outclassed but remained a positive if controversial element before, during and after the fight, and definitely added to the promotion.
The underdog wobbled and looked dazed sometimes as she tried to make a stand. Braekhus stood patiently, sometimes near motionless, as she waited for the opening she knew was coming soon enough.
The rivals weighed in less than a pound apart but Lauren looked substantially bigger at the bell.
More important, it also looked like Braekhus punched three times as hard.
Early in the 6th, Braekhus, 145, buckled Lauren, 145 ¾, with an uppercut and avoided Lauren’s flailing response. After that, it was all Braekhus and the end was clear.
A stunning right hook set the way for a crushing left cross that caught Lauren full on the face and almost lifted her into the air, then dumped the deflated challenger on a bright blue canvas that matched her futile gloves.
Somehow, the incoherent Lauren got up, in a character defining moment, and told referee Sparkle Lee she wanted to continue.
Braekhus immediately smacked Lauren to the strands and landed more leather. Lauren stumbled off the ropes and actually scored with a couple sweeping shots before she got slammed again and ref Lee correctly waved it off.
Lauren’s corner did not argue. The official time was 1:39 of the 6th.
“Cecilia is a great champion and master of boxing skills,” said Lauren through loose translation, looking puffy but not too much the worse for wear when she appeared before the press afterward. “I have full respect for her.”
Breakhus emerged with a slight swelling under her left eye and a bruised cheekbone.
Nordic comfort zone
Braekhus is a northern star whose punching presence contributed greatly to abolishing Norway’s longtime boxing ban. When Braekhus stopped Ana Sophie Mathis in December 2014 it marked the end of a dry spell that had lasted from 1982.
Tonight’s action also illustrated the basic skill difference between Braekhus and most of her current European area challengers. There are not many other top marque options for Braekhus around the welterweight limit.
Super-welterweights Hanna Gabriels, 18-1 (11), of Costa Rica and her rival Oxandia Castillo, 16-3-3 (13), who Braekhus already TKO’d in 2013 are still unproven and bad business risk-reward matchups for Braekhus.
To fully verify her elite “First Lady” status and cement a global legacy however, Braekhus may have to venture outside her Nordic comfort zone and face somebody like the fully seasoned Layla McCarter.
In the meantime, Braekhus has earned the right of making the decision on entirely her own terms. Her undefeated record and respectable resume keep her atop world rankings.
Braekhus has appeared stateside once before, at the Seminole Hard Rock in Florida for a six-round unanimous decision over Nicole Woods in 2008.
This might be a good time for another visit.