Braekhus suffers first pro defeat as McCaskill takes titles

FILE PHOTO: Norwegian boxer Cecilia Braekhus (C) greets guests as she attends the official weigh-in of reigning heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko of Ukraine and U.S. boxer Bryant Jennings ahead of their fight in New York April 24, 2015. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Norwegian boxing trailblazer Cecilia Braekhus suffered the first defeat of her professional career on Saturday, losing her WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO welterweight titles in a majority decision loss to underdog Jessica McCaskill in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

With 36 wins and nine knockouts to her name, 38-year-old Braekhus has dominated boxing since turning pro in 2007. But McCaskill, a 33-year-old investment banker from Chicago who spent a period of homelessness as a child, poured on the punches to edge the victory.

Braekhus threw the cleaner, more accurate shots throughout, but the sheer volume of McCaskill's output gave her victory on the judges' scorecards after 10 gruelling rounds in a purpose-built ring in Tulsa.

"This is for the fourth-grade homeless Jessica. This is for the little girl that just didn't care what people thought about her and learned to love herself even though she was really weird," the newly crowned champion said.

Gracious in defeat, Braekhus hinted strongly that she may hang up her gloves after her unbeaten record was finally broken.

"I'm proud and happy to pass the torch to her (McCaskill). I have to say, I don't know what's going to happen right now, but I'm incredibly proud to be a part of women's boxing right now," she said.

"If this is my last fight, I can leave women's boxing and say I was a part of this. I was a part of taking women's boxing to this level and that will be my biggest achievement of all."

(Reporting by Philip O'Connor; Editing by David Goodman)

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