When the great, the immortal, the beloved Joe Louis set the world record for most consecutive world title defences – a staggering 25 – most people felt the record would never be broken, matched even. And in no way did any fight fan figure it would be a female fighter breaking the record if it did get broken. But now, with incredible Norwegian fighter Cecilia Braekhus just one win away from breaking Louis’ record, we have to understand how the sport has changed so much over the years.
Women didn’t fight in Joe Louis’ time, but they sure do now, and they’re darn good at it. Braekhus, Laila Ali, Claressa Shields, Heather Hardy….. and on the list of accomplished female fighters goes and grows. But “The First Lady” is so close to making a huge piece of boxing history. If Braekhus, 36-0 with nine KO’s, can defeat Jessica McCaskill on Saturday night she will make it 26 title defences on the bounce.
Braekhus, now aged 38 (39 in September) but still in amazing condition and very much on the top of her game, first became a world champion back in March of 2009, when she won the WBA and WBC welterweight titles. Since then, Braekhus has never looked back. “The First Lady” tied Louis’ legendary record in November, when she retained the belts for the 25th time; Braekhus by now also holding the IBF, WBO and IBO titles.
Doubtless, many fans will not want to hear how Braekhus, with a win on Saturday, will have broken “The Brown Bomber’s” record, and of course Braekhus is not a heavyweight. Or a man. So in the minds of many people, Joe’s record will still stand regardless of what happens on Saturday night. But you cannot take anything at all away from Braekhus, an incredibly hard-working fighter who has amazing skill, dedication and serious talent.
Will Braekhus be 37-0 when she wakes up on Sunday morning? More importantly, will she have 26 world title defences under her belt by then?