HBO was the first network to televise female boxers on their Boxing After Dark Series.
It took 45 years, but it happened, and HBO is to thank for that. One year later HBO announced that after four decades, and some change, they would no longer be a host to the sport of boxing.
HBO was pivotal to skyrocketing mega star careers of greats like Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Oscar De la Hoya, Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson, Bernard Hopkins and many more. HBO made history by airing the first female boxing match on Cinco De Mayo, 2018, and notably ended an era on Dec 8, with the same female Champion boxer.
On HBO’s final telecast from the Stubhub Center in Carson California, women boxers were the main event!
The 10 round main event featured Cecilia Braekhus 34-0 (9 KO’s) of Bergan Norway vs Aleksandra Magdziak-Lopes 19-4-3 (1 KO) from Gliwice Poland. Cecelia, also known as the “first lady” of boxing, is the women’s #1 pound for pound fighter, and the undisputed Women’s Welterweight Champion of the World. Cecilia holds five title belts and they were all up for grabs on that night.
Cecilia is the favorite amongst boxing fans with an interesting story that started at a very young age with kickboxing. If you’ve ever seen her parents at one of her boxing events, that alone, is reason to buy tickets to any of her fights. Cecilia was born in Colombia and adopted by Norwegian parents that have encouraged her every step of the way.
Her challenger, Aleksandra Magdziak-Lopes wanted the vacant WBC Super Welterweight World Title. She is used to going a full 10 round fight, and is hungry for the take! She has competed for a world title twice before. When asked how she felt about this being HBO’s last televised match, she said : “Women’s boxing has made such huge strides but there are even more great female boxers under the radar, all they need is a platform. It’s great to see more opportunities coming to women’s boxing.” Aleksandra is also an attorney.
These super athletes are a special breed. Both Braekhus and Lopes have fought and defeated professional boxer Kari Reis. World Champion Cecilia Braekhus is the only boxer male or female in history to hold all four titles of WBC, WBA, WBO, IBF, & IBO simultaneously; along with the likes of Bernard Hopkins, and Oleksandr Usyk. With all of those stats and records, imagine the excitement and anticipation to see these boxers fight! It’s always intense when an undefeated World Champion stands to lose five title belts in one evening.
On the co-main event is the extreme athlete Louisa Hawton. Aka “Bang Bang LuLu.” Lulu is what they call a freak of nature. After skateboarding for one year she was winning competitions and turned pro. Soon after, Lulu fell in love with boxing and has been living the life of a boxer ever since. Fighting out of Perth Australia with a record of 8-2-0 (4 KO’s) Lulu was ready for this fight. This match was for the WBC Atomweight World Title belt.
Now that you’re up to date on the facts, let’s get ready to rumble. There are four undercard fights before the co main event. Time to grab some snacks and a drink and watch some boxing! The undercard fights are not to be ignored! These boxers have the opportunity to become a household name.
The DJ had the tunes jamming and the celebrities were in the beautiful people section. The German World Champion boxer Christina Hammer was present, as well as five star boxer Jerrell “Big Baby” Miller fresh off his last win. Actress Halle Berry was there with her supermodel boyfriend. Cyborg from the Women’s UFC was there taking full advantage of her popularity, creating quite the deserved sensation! Larry Merchant, Max Kellerman, and Harold Lederman also came to bid farewell. The show was called by the legendary Roy Jones Jr and the beloved Jim Lampley.
In the main event, the First Lady of Boxing Cecilia Braekhus 35-0 remained the undefeated champ! Cecilia is boxing royalty. Watching her at the media workouts I saw how precise she is. She is the most composed and calculated boxer I’ve ever seen. If you’re looking for a showboat, look elsewhere. Braekhus is a technician in the ring and this night was no exception. Cecilia’s opponent Aleksandra Magdziak-Lopes 18-5-3 (1 KO) was not a big challenge for the first lady. Looking like she just had a day at the spa, Cecilia said at the press conference, “ I may have pushed a little too much looking for the knockout. If I would have maybe relaxed, the knockout would have come.“ The final scorecard read 99-91 for Braekhus.
On the c- main event was Clarissa Sheilds, a fan favorite because of her strong personality. Yes she’s a World Champion of 8-0 (2 KO’s) and a two time Olympic Gold Medal winner, but her personality is what impacts the interest from the millennial boxing fans! Young and new fans today are open minded to female athlete rock stars. They can name Serena Williams before they can name our heavyweight World Champion. Throughout this entire fight I wanted to scream to her opponent to throw a punch! Femke Hermans 9-2 (3 KO’s) out of Belgium is a woman of few words and did not flinch at Shield’s aggressive stance at the weigh ins. However, on this night she lost her jab. Where did it go? Clarissa Shields is a sight to see with her all gold metal flake shorts and hoodie. Since Femke simply would not throw a punch, Shields, aka “T Rex” started to antagonize Femke. Clarissa Shields from Flint, MI remains the champ with a final score of 100-90 for Shields.
Last but never the least “Bang Bang Lulu” Louisa Hawton 8-2 (2 KO’s) from Australia was an absolute highlight. She was set to fight a rematch with the boxer Brenda Flores to whom she had lost a 10 round match by decision. But Brenda backed out. There is never any shortage of good fighters on the scene, so up stepped Loraine Villalobos 2-1 fighting out of Los Angeles. She is a damn good boxer but not ready for the likes of Bang Bang Lulu. Louisa is a boxer with huge moves, and she can go round after round without even breathing hard. The fight was stopped after 5 rounds and Lulu was the winner by unanimous decision. Lulu now has a record of 9-2 and is now the WBC Atomweight World Champion! This champion will make her presence known everywhere in 2019. Keep an eye out for her.
HBO’s bidding of farewell was tepid at best. The promoters of this show did everything they needed to do. The problem here is female boxers do not have the platform to gain a fan base. Without a fan base, there are no ticket sales. Empty seats means no merchandise sold.
Boxing, like anything else, is an industry. HBO clearly didn’t feel the need to make a fuss about their departure from boxing. No advertising of the event, no ceremonious goodbye’s and no documentary of the 45 years of outstanding memories for the people in attendance.The ring wasn’t set up with a monitor for playbacks. All of the athletes they catapulted into mega stardom were absent and nowhere to be seen. This marks the end of an era. Let this also mark the beginning of a fresh page for new opportunities for all athletes, sans the gender discrimination.