WBA super-welterweight champion Terri Harper and Cecilia Braekhus fought themselves to a competitive draw at the Sheffield Arena as the chief support to Leigh Wood’s WBA featherweight world title defence against two-time former IBF world champion Josh Warrington.
Harper (14-1) was making the second defence of her WBA crown, which she won in September last year against Hannah Rankin. Meanwhile, at 42 years old, Braekhus (37-2) is in the twilight years of her career following a long reign as undisputed welterweight champion for most of the last decade.
Despite the sixteen-year age gap between the fighters and advancing years, Braekhus represented one of the tougher tests of Harper’s career to date.
Braekhus started the contest gaining centre ring and was happy to apply forward educated pressure with the lead hand, with Harper happy to allow Cecila to come in with the jab and world with counter shots up close.
Braekhus continued her forward pressure with more varying success, targeting the body on multiple occasions and looking physically stronger than the younger Harper. Harper was, at times, trying to land the overhand right.
The third saw Harper take the lead more than Braekhus and started to lead off with her jab while attempting to land with the right hand, seemingly the plan for Harper to claim victory. Braekhus was undeterred and was still happy to close the range and had success to the body
The fourth frame saw Harper attempt to hold her feet and work more on the inside as the round became a slightly gritty affair with in close fighting. Braekhus was able to absorb the shits from Harper well. The fifth was a similar pattern; however, the cleaner work was coming from the WBA world champion Harper, with the pace of the round being quicker than the opening two rounds.
Round six saw both land a number of telling punches, with the first half of the round being Harper’s with crisper and faster combinations of which was an over hand right at the minute mark. Baekhus would have her own successes late in the round with no response from Harper.
Harper would start round seven with a faster tempo and, using her feet to manoeuvre in and out of range, regularly landing the jab with an occasional one-two. However, like the previous two rounds, Braekhus would finish strong with her telling punches, with Harper pinned briefly in the blue corner.
Eight was a close affair, with Harper attempting to use her feet to raise the pace with some minor success with the pace of the contest. Braekhus would press the fight in round nine, throwing combinations and unsettling Harper, which caused an animated reaction from trainer Stefy Bull in-between rounds.
The final round of a scheduled ten saw Braekhus go for leather to go for victory, which allowed Harper to counter on the inside, but this ultimately did not deter Braekhus from still coming forward even if she was taking punishment in the process.
The contest was highly competitive throughout. Despite neither fighter being heavily troubled and rocked, the action flowed, adding to the occasion and spectacle.
Following completing the ten-round championship distance, the judges scorecards read a majority draw verdict. Bob Williams scored the contest 97-93 in favour of Harper, with judges David Singh and Giulio Piras scoring the contest an equal 95-95, respectively.
Harper admitted that she felt the weight played a factor and that she would consider moving down to welterweight or super-lightweight.
Promoter Eddie Hearn, speaking to DAZN, believed that the scores were “a joke” and that the judges who scored the contest a draw were “incompetent.”