Undisputed Welterweight champion Cecilia Braekhus helps close out HBO’s run in boxing Dec. 8 against Aleksandra Magdziak Lopes. Fitting, for a First Lady?
In a video posted to Instagram November, 8, 2018, Cecilia Braekhus – oft referred to as ‘The First Lady of Boxing’ – tagged the Jordan brand’s account to thank them, presumably for her courtside seats at her first National Basketball Association game. The contest was a Portland Trailblazers home game versus the visiting Los Angeles Clippers.
Braekhus (34-0, 9 KOs) opened the short video, captured with a cell phone, with a close-up shot of her own face before quickly panning across the Nike executives who accompanied her, then onto the floor of the Moda Center and finished with the cheering crowd in the stands opposite of her seat.
It all made sense, as a later multiple photo IG post included a caption from Braekhus stating that the outing was part of being hosted by Jordan for a day at the Nike, Inc. headquarters which are located in Portland, Oregon.
At a quick glance a Blazers game versus the Clippers didn’t seem like such a great match-up, or that it was fitting for the first NBA game of an athlete nicknamed ‘The First Lady.’ However, at just a dozen games into the 2018-2019 season, the rebuilding Clippers currently sit in the sixth spot of the Western Conference standings. The Trailblazers happen to occupy the No. 2 spot.
Since undefeated Welterweight champion Braekhus – who along with Cruiserweight Oleksandr Usyk currently holds the rare distinction as boxing’s only undisputed world champions – trains and lives in Norway she may not follow the NBA that closely. Certainly the mediocre pairing for the game was a matter of timing or poor planning, and if Jordan had its druthers, they would have treated Braekhus to the Blazers game scheduled Saturday, December 29 – the night the reigning world champion Golden State Warriors come to town.
Unfortunately, the Warriors game falls exactly three weeks after Braekhus’ next fight. She defends her IBF/IBO/WBA/WBC/WBO belts against challenger Aleksandra Magdziak Lopes (18-4-3, 1 KO). The title defense is no average regular season game – or match-up. Braekhus vs. Lopes will be the co-main event of possibly the final boxing bouts to ever be broadcast on HBO, after four decades worth of its trailblazing efforts in the sport. The question becomes, this bout – the second women’s bout in HBO’s history – isn’t a matter of bad timing or rushed planning, so why are fans getting Braekhus vs. Lopes in HBO World Championship Boxing’s swan song?
Back in May Braekhus got up from the canvas to retain her five titles via unanimous decision over a determined Kali Reis (15-7-1, 5 KOs) who gradually overcame a slow start. The hard-fought bout served as both Braekhus’ debut to U.S. boxing fans, as well as HBO’s first-ever televised women’s bout. Lance Pugmire, boxing/MMA writer for the Los Angeles Times, reported that the bout was a successful opener for Gennady Golovkin vs. Vanes Martirosyan, as it “…averaged 904,000 viewers, peaking at 1.024 million.” Following her 33rd win, Braekhus mentioned that the Reis’ effort warranted a rematch.
Now, ahead of a truly monumental event in HBO’s exit from live boxing, the premium cable network and promoter Tom Loeffler’s 360 Promotions plan to deliver its loyal fans Super Flyweight fight Roman Gonzalez vs. Pedro Guevara and the aforementioned Braekhus vs. Lopes. Undoubtedly, at least one of the executives from Nike and Jordan will make the flight down to Carson, California’s StubHub Center to sit ringside for Braekhus’ big moment.
But is the ball being dropped by HBO? By Loeffler and his 360 Promotions? By, or for, women’s boxing? Who knows, maybe Braekhus just really isn’t in a rush to see (the) Warriors.
P.S. This writer wishes both Cecilia Braekhus and Aleksandra Magdziak Lopes the best on fight night, and the intent of this post is not to disrespect Lopes nor belittle her career. To her credit, her record with Kali Reis is 1-1, as she avenged a 2009 loss to Reis in her debut bout with a rematch in July 2010. Fans’ familiarity with Reis seemed like an obvious and outstanding story line to promote, and the fact that she scored the knock down against Braekhus would’ve added to the card’s drama, but Lopes has gone 8-1-1 in her last 10 bouts.
This article originally appeared on womenofboxing.com