Anything boxing related - just ask Chris
Anything boxing related - just ask Chris
Undeterred by the fight-week juggling act to find a replacement for her original opponent, Victoria Bustos, autocratic 147-pound sovereign Jessica McCaskill remained zeroed in on the task at hand and retained her collection of welterweight title belts in Las Vegas Saturday night.
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With Bustos unable to make the trip to the U.S. from Argentina due to Covid-related travel restrictions, promoter Eddie Hearn was left with the unenviable task of keeping McCaskill’s high-profile appointment open on the Devin Haney/Joseph Diaz Jr. undercard with the clock ticking all the while.
According to Layla McCarter’s manager and trainer, Luis Tapia, the eight-time, five-division world champion who has not lost a fight in over fourteen years was the recipient of a phone call from Hearn that resulted in a verbal agreement. McCarter has been among the upper echelon of the WBA’s top-ranked welterweight contenders for some time now, and was routinely sidestepped by former champion Cecilia Braekhus during the Norwegian’s lengthy reign. As Tapia tells it, there was no follow through from Hearn and it was assumed that McCaskill’s fight was put on ice altogether, only for them to learn that Kandi ‘Krush’ Wyatt was selected to fill the bill instead.
In her thirteen previous outings, Wyatt had an initial eight-fight run of good fortune put to a stop by Christina Linardatou in 2019. The Canadian then went 2-2 over her next four fights, and was coming into this world title opportunity on the heels of two consecutive defeats, to Kali Reis and Alma Ibarra.
The drama regarding her opposition notwithstanding, Jessica McCaskill emerged from her corner like a woman possessed by the need to make an emphatic statement, raining down blows while wearing an expression on her face that alternated between grim determination and an almost sadistic glee.
In her enthusiasm, McCaskill ran into a straight left from Wyatt out of the gate. She not only walked through it, but responded with a succession of body blows and clubbing overhand rights which were the prominent features of the blueprint devised by the defending champion and her trainer, Rick Ramos.
McCaskill implemented the game plan with the sort of ferocity typically reserved for a mortal enemy and not someone with whom she had agreed to go into battle against a mere four days prior. Her right hands were delivered in such devastating fashion that the crowd assembled inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena responded nearly every time McCaskill connected with one by uttering a collective “oooh.” Whether in appreciation of McCaskill’s naked aggression or sympathizing with Wyatt for enduring such obvious punishment, it was impossible to tell.
Allowing Wyatt little in the way of breathing room, McCaskill began the second frame by continuing her up-tempo attack. Digging to the body while working from a crouch up close, McCaskill would then take a slight step back so as not to smother her own punches upstairs which came in heavy volume.
Kandi was not without a select few moments of success, courtesy of some nicely timed counters in between McCaskill’s more reckless flurries while standing straight up, but the simple fact of the matter was that Wyatt was unable to defend herself from the relentless pace established by the champion from the opening bell, much less hold out any hope of mounting a sustained offensive.
Early in the third round, McCaskill made matters exponentially worse for Wyatt by introducing short chopping uppercuts into her punch selection. These found a consistently ready home on the challenger’s chin and snapped Kandi’s head back on multiple occasions.
Showing no sign of slowing down well into the sixth round, McCaskill’s ferocious onslaught forced referee Celestino Ruiz to implore Wyatt to “show me something.” The only thing Kandi showed was an admirable desire not to be put down if she had any say in the matter, despite being repeatedly victimized by a superior boxer.
At this point, the delivery of a coup de grace by McCaskill was unnecessary. Academic, really. To that end, Ruiz waved the fight off only nineteen seconds into round seven after Wyatt absorbed two more hellacious left/right combinations. There is no arguing the dutiful, not to mention merciful, nature of the referee’s stoppage. Even Wyatt put up no protest whatsoever. The man was doing his job, plain and simple, and Kandi will live to fight another day.
Now that she has a second successful title defense under her belt (six belts, to be precise, but who’s counting?), what lies ahead for Jessica McCaskill?
Katie Taylor has said in recent days that she is open to engaging the undisputed welterweight champion in a rematch, but the ‘Bray Bomber’ has her own title defense to make this coming weekend with a dream fight opposite Amanda Serrano in the works for some time in the first half of next year.
While she waits for her number to come up in the Katie Taylor lottery, there’s always Alma Ibarra and Layla McCarter for McCaskill to tangle with.