She was sporting a black-eye the next day, but Norwegian boxer Cecilia Brækhus was still being hailed for her victory over rival Anne-Sophie Mathis at her latest pro-boxing world championship match in Denmark over the weekend. Brækhus herself called the day of her win “the best in my life.”
Brækhus will have even more reason to celebrate when her birthday rolls around on Friday. The Colombian-born, Bergen-reared athlete who’s taken the boxing world by storm could add yet another title to her already long list of merits since she turned pro. Now she’s the undefeated World Champion in Welterweight in the World Boxing Association, the World Boxing Council, the World Boxing Organization, and the World Professional Boxing Federation. Before that, she was a kickboxing champion and won medals at the European and World Championships as an amateur.
Her parents, Jorunn and Martin Brækhus of Bergen, admitted on Monday that their daughter’s match on Saturday night in Fredrikshavn was tough to watch. “We weren’t certain of the outcome,” Martin Brækhus told the website for local paper Bergens Tidende. “When you sit and watch a boxing match like that, there are a lot of feelings. We’d seen what happened to (top-ranked) Holly Holm, who was beaten badly by Mathis, and what had been written about Mathis. There was a lot of talk about the strength of her punches.
“After awhile, though, we saw that Cecilia was handling it. That was a great relief.”
For photos from Bergens Tidende’s coverage, click here (external link, in Norwegian).
Brækhus is now undefeated in a string of more than 20 matches, and Saturday’s went for 10 rounds. She’s got three world championship belts and declared she “wants them all” – she’s not one to rest on her laurels and, as newspaper Aftenposten reported on Sunday, is acutely aware that losses can mean she’ll be quickly put on the sidelines by her Team Sauerland in Berlin, where she now lives.
“Everyone is nice in Team Sauerland but this is business,” Brækhus told Aftenposten. “There’s pressure to deliver all the time. It’s very clear. Lots of the guys will be swapped out soon. That’s the way it is in professional boxing.”
Neither of Brækhus’ parents had any background in martial arts or sports like boxing, which is banned at the pro level in Norway. They said they were surprised when their daughter came home one day and said she started training in kickboxing.
“We would have rather seen her get into a team sport,” her mother Jorunn told Bergens Tidende. “But we’ve understood that Cecilia is an individualist. It’s fantastic what she’s achieved. And it’s given us a more exciting life. Now we follow her to places we otherwise never would have gone.”
Brækhus said the match against Mathis was her toughest ever. “And remember that I’m in my best shape,” she said. Now she’s ranked second in the world, according to the list released Sunday, with Holly Holm on top. Brækhus had been third. Holm was beaten by Mathis earlier this year, but won at a new meeting in June. There’s little doubt who Brækhus aims to meet in the ring next.
Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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