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Pound-for-pound queen willing to drop weight to face 'amazing' Katie Taylor in historic women's fight

If the price was right, Cecilia Braekhus would even relinquish her four world title belts for a groundbreaking fight with Taylor.

Image: Imago/PA Images

CECILIA BRAEKHUS, WOMEN’S boxing’s number one attraction, has opened the door to a groundbreaking catchweight clash with Katie Taylor – but warned her former sparring partner that she will ‘not be around forever’.

Welterweight Braekhus is the only female in history to hold all four major titles at once, having added the IBF to her WBA, WBC and WBO belts back in 2014. Until Oleksandr Usyk’s World Boxing Super Series win back in July, she was the only undisputed boxing champion in the world, male or female.

The 37-year-old has successfully defended the quartet of straps eight times since, which has solidified her status as the top pound-for-pound fighter in the sport. She also became the first woman to box live on HBO when she beat Kali Reis in May, living up to her ‘First Lady’ nickname.

But Taylor, who recently sparred Reis and competes two divisions below Braekhus as a 135-pound lightweight, has emerged as a professional force since turning over in the aftermath of her unsuccessful bid for gold at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

And the 32-year-old Bray woman has mentioned Braekhus in her list of potential targets for the next 18 months.

Boxing World Championshop - Balogun vs Braekhus Women's pound-for-pound no.1 Cecilia Braekhus Source: DPA/PA Images

First, Taylor defends her IBF and WBA titles against the eldest half of the Puerto Rico-born Serrano sisters, Cindy, in Boston on Saturday.

Amanda Serrano, who has also dabbled in mixed martial arts, is on Taylor’s hit list too but a showdown with Braekhus could become the
biggest fight in the history of women’s boxing.

One major sticking point on paper, however, is the obvious weight disparity: 12lbs currently separate the 9st 9lb Taylor from 10st 7lb

But the Colombia-born Norwegian, whose last outing came against Inna Sagaydakovskaya in Moscow three months back, told The42: “The weight would not be a problem for me.

“I’m a small fighter, they know that, I’m a small welterweight,” Braekhus said. “I’ve always been. I’m actually having trouble staying fit in my division so dropping down would not be a problem for me.

Katie would have to go up one and I would have to go down one. That’s something I’d be open to, for sure.

“But if they want me to leave all my belts, including the number one pound-for-pound Ring Magazine belt, we have some negotiating to do.

“Maybe the governing bodies would let me keep hold of my belts and drop down for one special fight. That would make everything easier and it is something we will look into. For me to keep those belts and drop down, that would help the whole situation.

“But if I am going to give up these belts – oh, Eddie [Hearn], you have to come up with something good.”

O2 Arena Boxing Hearn will have to put up plenty of money to get Braekhus to drop her four world title belts at welterweight Source: Nick Potts

Hearn is determined to establish Taylor as the undisputed face of women’s boxing and is ready to make her one of the cornerstones of his billion-dollar deal with DAZN.

Saturday night will be Taylor’s first appearance on the recently-launched US streaming service and beating former featherweight
world champion Serrano will represent the biggest win of her professional career to date.

A victory over Braekhus, meanwhile, would take Taylor to another level entirely but the four-belt champion says time is running out for Hearn to make the deal.

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“They cannot wait too long, you know,” she added. “I am not 20 years old anymore.

“It has to happen I would say in the next year or so. Right now I take it fight by fight, but I won’t be around

I don’t have any more to prove so I am only interested in big, exciting fights. It’s about motivation now – the opponent, the arena and everything around it needs to be right to interest me. Katie, for sure, would represent that but she cannot wait forever. I’ll be gone.

“A fight with Katie would be big anywhere: Norway, England, Ireland and here in America. It wouldn’t matter to me where we did it. It would be huge anywhere.”

Boxeing: Cecilia Braekhus (Norway) vs Chris Namus (Uruguay) Source: DPA/PA Images

Unlike London gold medalist Taylor, Braekhus never got the chance to box at the Olympics as she made her professional debut five years before the sport was reinstated at the 2012 Games.

But the pair’s paths did cross in regular training camps when they often shared the ring in sparring sessions.

“I’ve been aware of her for so long now and I’ve always thought she is amazing,” Braekhus added.

“I sparred with her a long time ago now. It was in a training camp. We did a lot of them together.

“When we sparred she was very new at the time, I was more seasoned because I’m a bit older and had been in the game a bit longer than her.

“She was this young girl coming up and we all knew there was something special about her, but we could not have imagined that she would make it explode like she did.

“It has been extremely nice to be following her success from those early, early days when we were amateur boxing back then.

Back then she was exactly the same as she is now, very polite. I always liked her and I think she liked me too but she was the quiet one and I was the crazy one. But that doesn’t matter because boxing united us and we always had a good time at the gym.

“We didn’t stay in touch. It was a long time ago, probably 10 or 11 years since the last time we trained together.

To have the chance to fight at the pinnacle of women’s boxing would be something amazing so I hope we can reach an agreement.

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Taylor baffled by ‘mentally fragile’ rival Amanda Serrano, but must first deal with her big sister in Boston

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