‘Just the start’: Price bests McCaskill for title

Boxing

Lauren Price won her first world title in only her seventh professional fight as her handspeed and smart boxing proved too much for Jessica McCaskill in a ninth-round technical decision victory Saturday at Utilita Arena in Cardiff, Wales.

McCaskill’s eye was almost swollen shut from a head clash, and at the start of the ninth round, referee Michael Alexander stopped the fight. Since the clash was accidental, the three judges’ scorecards decided the outcome of the fight and crowned Price champion by unanimous scores of 90-82.

Price (7-0, 1 KO), 29, won every round on her way to capturing the WBA world welterweight title, then said she wants to be the next Katie Taylor, the undisputed world junior welterweight champion.

“I believe this is just the start for me and I want to create a legacy,” Price said in the ring after the victory. “I’m only going to get better. You see what Katie Taylor has done for Ireland, I want to do the same for Wales and sell out the Principality Stadium.

“I know Jessica’s game; she loves a dog fight. It took me a couple of rounds to find my distance.”

Former undisputed welterweight champion McCaskill (12-4-1, 5 KOs), 39, from Chicago, lost the WBA belt in a fifth title defense versus Price. McCaskill, who beat Cecilia Braekhus in undisputed title fights in 2020 and ’21, drew in her last fight with England’s Sandy Ryan, and before that lost a unanimous decision to Chantelle Cameron at junior welterweight.

McCaskill is now without a win in her last three fights but said she has no intention of quitting.

“Credit to Lauren, she’s the only person who has taken belts from me,” McCaskill said. “I can rebound from anything. I grew up homeless, so getting punched in the face is nothing.

“There was holding, a lot of headbutts and I just felt you should let a champion go out on her shield.”

Southpaw Price, a gold medalist at the 2021 Olympic Games, had not fought in Wales since she was an amateur seven years ago, and she made a strong start in front of a noisy crowd. The Welshwoman’s quick footwork and straight left hand meant McCaskill was left with little opportunity to score in the early rounds.

McCaskill was warned for a wrestling move in the second round, as Price refused to be drawn into a brawl and kept to her box-and-move strategy.

Price caught McCaskill with a cuffing left hand in the third round before the American was warned again moments later.

McCaskill was on the front foot in the fourth round, but Price just picked her off as she stepped into range. A clash of heads early in the fifth round left McCaskill with a mouse above her left eye, and Price was also warned for holding. McCaskill finished the round with some good work and landed some solid shots.

But it was a brief moment of success for McCaskill, as Price was really impressive in the sixth round, catching the champion repeatedly as she advanced toward her. Price’s handspeed kept her in control, and in the eighth round McCaskill winced as she got clobbered by a short right hand to her swollen left eye.

The injury proved decisive as the fight was stopped in Round 9 after Alexander again asked the ringside doctor to inspect McCaskill’s swollen eye.

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