McCaskill Preparing “Tornado” For Price After Wales Favourite Breezed Into Her Path

We don’t know if Wales in May is preferable to Croatia in April, but one thing’s for sure, Jessica McCaskill will be packing her bags and defending her WBA, IBO and Ring welterweight titles in Cardiff on May 11 after that usual wild ride that accompanies most title fights these days. 

At least this time the resolution is a positive one, as there is a bigger and better fight on tap, with McCaskill facing the unbeaten Olympic gold medalist Lauren Price at Cardiff International Arena this spring instead of her WBC mandatory Ivana Habazin. On paper, and likely in reality, it’s a tougher fight and in her opponent’s backyard, but McCaskill, who was also willing to face Habazin in Croatia, has never blinked at living up to the “world” part of world champion. 

“This girl’s an Olympian,” said McCaskill. “And she was an athlete outside of boxing, so they’re handing me their very best. And, for us, it’s a good challenge; to fight an Olympian is no small task. And we’ve been to the UK and we know what the fan base is like. They’re very loyal, they’re very passionate, and I want to make sure that my name is burned into their brain. And I want to steal some fans from Cardiff. And it’s a better look all the way around. We get a chance to work with Boxxer and, financially, it’s just a smarter play. So easy isn’t what we’re looking for. We’re looking for legacy, we’re looking for profit, and we’re looking for the advancement after the fight.” 

It’s what you want to hear from any champion, but few who say such things live up to their words. McCaskill is the exception and always has been. Sure, she’s a prizefighter, so the money matters, as it should, but often, the biggest reward comes from taking the biggest risks. So from a pair of fights with Erica Farias and two with Cecilia Braekhus, to recent clashes against Chantelle Cameron and Sandy Ryan, the Chicago product has made it her business to always take the fights not everyone else would. You might think that would earn her more respect from fans and pundits, but that’s always been an uphill battle from the time she gave Katie Taylor hell for ten rounds back in 2017. 

“We’ve had that perception of us for a very long time before my last two fights, so I don’t want to say you get used to it, but maybe I just kind of go numb to it,” said McCaskill. “It’s the same kind of way when you think of an artist and their work isn’t really appreciated until they’re gone. I think maybe I’ll just get what’s owed down the road when I’m not even boxing anymore. And that’s okay, because right now it might even be better not to be sitting in this pool of awesomeness and praise because I just want to stay focused and I want to tick off the boxes, work and do that. And then later when everybody looks back at my body of work, they’ll understand what they probably missed a long time ago.” 

Sad, but true, and also something that can change sooner rather than later if McCaskill turns back the challenge of Price, whose résumé outside the ring includes a world kickboxing championship and 52 caps for the national team on the soccer pitch, leading some to already call her the greatest athlete ever produced by Wales. So beating Price, even one with just six pro fights, would make headlines. More on that later. First, how did we get here when the idea was for McCaskill to face Habazin on April 20? 

Well, most recently, Habazin’s company, Piranha 1 LLC, won a pair of 2023 purse bids, only to default on the first one. In stepped McCaskill’s promoter at the time, Matchroom, and the bout was set until Habazin moved up to 154lbs to face – and lose to – Terri Harper last May. 

“We got no phone call, we got no warning, we got no email, no text, no nothing,” said Rick Ramos, McCaskill’s manager, coach and husband. “We just happened to see it on Instagram that our fight had been taken, which has happened in the past many times.” 

“And so now we’re just kind of sitting with no fight, which, if you’re training for a fight, you’re putting all these funds and resources into this fight and then for it to just go away after months of planning, it’s very unfortunate and I would say disrespectful,” adds McCaskill. “So, from there, Rick gets on his manager bike and starts making things happen.” 

McCaskill went on to fight to a draw with Ryan last September, and despite losing to Harper, Habazin remained the WBC mandatory. But McCaskill and Ramos were leery of going through the rollercoaster ride again. 

“They dragged us out way too long,” said Ramos. “This has been for a year-and-a-half and is the third time that we were going at this fight. I was like, let me see if there’s another option.” 

Ramos reached out to Ryan, Cameron – who beat McCaskill at 140lbs in 2022 – and two-division champion Natasha Jonas. All were down to fight, but then Boxxer got into the mix with Price. Pardon the pun, but the price was right, McCaskill remained a promotional free agent after the fight, and it was worth leaving the WBC belt for Habazin and Kinga Magyar to fight for next month. 

“Rick always has something in his back pocket and Price was that thing,” said McCaskill. 

Now there’s just “The Lucky One”. With all the business stuff out of the way, what does the champion see when she looks at the challenger? 

“I see a young fighter that’s coming up,” said McCaskill. “Obviously, she’s had other sports and things in her life, but boxing is always going to be its own entity. And so, I just see a young fighter that’s hungry and that seems to have a good team around her. She seems to be very smart, and her team seem very connected, so I feel like I see a lot of things that I really like about her and her demeanor and the way that she speaks to her team and the way that she seems very comfortable and protected, because that’s really hard to find. You see these younger fighters and they’re coming up and they’re talking about money and they’re all blinged out or they’re talking about fashion or they’re distracted with multiple other things that they’re trying to do. And it’s like, you should probably just be training and fighting because you don’t play boxing. So, I see that in her, and I love it. I think it’s great. And after this fight, I hope the best for her.” 

McCaskill laughs, knowing that as much as she respects and likes Price, on fight night it will have to be a different story if she wants to leave Cardiff with her belts. And she most definitely plans on going home as a champion. How does she achieve that goal? By forcing a fighter who has had her way thus far as a professional out of her comfort zone. 

“You’re right about that because some of the things that she said at the press conference, some of the keywords, the red flags were, ‘I’ve won every round comfortably’,” said McCaskill. “She said ‘comfortably’ many times, and there’s not going to be anything comfortable about this. I don’t think she understands that. And it’s one thing to kind of play cool about it and to think that you get it. And then there’s another thing when you’re in the middle of that tornado.”

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