A fairytale victory

After waiting 35 years for this match, Norway watched “The First Lady” Cecilia Brækhus win in just three minutes and five seconds

Photo: Bjørn S. Delebekk / VG Brækhus dominated the historic match from the beginning and won after only three minutes.

Photo: Bjørn S. Delebekk / VG
Brækhus dominated the historic match from the beginning and won after only three minutes.

Cathrine Løvaas
Bergen, Norway

Following a 35-year ban on professional boxing in Norway, Cecilia Brækhus competed on Norwegian soil for the first time in her career at Oslo Spektrum on October 1.

In the long-awaited match—called “The Homecoming”—the Norwegian faced Anne Sophie Mathis of France. The two world-renowned boxers had competed against each other once before when Brækhus defeated Mathis in a unanimous decision in 2012.

During the national anthem, Cecilia stood emotionally with her eyes closed as the audience sang and lit up the arena with their phones.

The Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, present with a couple of other politicians, welcomed the boxers into the ring and started the match by declaring: “Take it away!”

Her shortest match
Brækhus was extremely aggressive and went after her opponent straight away. Brækhus and Mathis gave each other several punches, but when Mathis got cut over her eye in the second round and bent over the ring with her back to the judge just three minutes in, it was called a day. In the appropriate manner, the judge stopped the match to end Brækhus’s shortest match ever.

“She hit me in the jaw, but all the rounds I have gone with my Spanish sparring partner lately have made me capable of taking it. He’s been kicking my butt for weeks now, and because of that I knew I could continue,” she said.

Brækhus is not normally a knockout boxer, and by knocking out Mathis, she also knocked out one million TV viewers and the 10,000 spectators in Oslo Spektrum. After the judge cut the match, Brækhus was ecstatic and the people in the arena went crazy, singing the song “Seier’n er vår” as if they were at a skiing stadium.

When asked whether she had expected a knock out, Brækhus answered: “Never in a million years. I prepared for ten rounds, but after a couple of jabs from Mathis I decided that I didn’t want to do it in ten rounds. I had to speed it up. But it is difficult to say anything right now. I did my job—I can’t describe it.”

The prime minister was pleased after the match but admitted that she would have liked the match to be longer and to see more of Brækhus.

Mathis’s retirement
Mathis will retire as a boxer after this match, which was her first knockout loss since 1995.

After the match Mathis said that she could see stars and had ringing in her ears and wasn’t sure whether the cut over her eye came from Brækhus’s hand or head.

“I will have to see the video of it; I have no idea what happened right now. I’ve never had this kind of beating before, but it is all a part of the job. It’s not the first time I’ve been out of focus after hard matches,” said Mathis.

“I don’t think anybody is capable of winning over Cecilia now. She is just the best,” she added.

Future opponents
Brækhus wants to meet Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino, a boxer from Brazil who normally competes in MMA. Whether this match will take place or not is not yet decided.

First, Brækhus will have to meet Swedish Klara Svendsson, who also was present ringside in Oslo, sometime in February or March.
“But ‘Cyborg’ is the one I’m after,” says Brækhus.

Another boxer present in Oslo was Vladimir Klitsjko, the former heavyweight champion.

“I was really impressed by Cecilia tonight, and not so surprised that she was capable of finishing after three minutes,” he said.

Brækhus is holding on to all four belts—the WBA, WBC, IBF, and WBO titles—and has won her 29th victory in a row. She has not yet lost a match in her professional boxing career.

Cathrine Løvaas (41) is a Norwegian freelancer from Bergen, Norway. She has a BA in History from Nord Universitet and writes about history, culture, sports, health, safety and environment, cats, and contract law. She runs a company that takes care of pets, and she loves weightlifting, photography, and literature. Meet her at www.norwegianfreelance.no and www.pusepass.no.

This article originally appeared in the Oct. 21, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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