INTERVIEW: Frontproof Media: Jessica McCaskill - Media Workout
By Steven Weinberg | Contributing Writer and Photographer
Published: October 03, 2019
FrontproofMedia.com’s Steven Weinberg recently interviewed WBC and WBA women’s super-lightweight champion, Jessica McCaskill, at Jessica’s open media workout ahead of her October 12, 2019 rematch against Erica Farias.
FP: We’re here with Jessica McCaskill, who is the current WBC and WBA 140-pound champion. You have a fight coming up on October 12 against the same woman you beat for the WBC belt. Are you expecting anything different?
JM: I expect a lot of different things out of myself, actually. We’ve had a second fight, a fight after the Farias fight, so that gives me a little bit more experience. We’ve been training non-stop since the Farias fight, so there’s going to be a lot more strength, a lot more movement on my side, so you see a lot different fighter out of me.
FP: In the Farias fight, what I saw different from you compared to earlier fights was you tried working on the outside and using your jab a lot. You used that in the middle rounds. In the early rounds, you were working the inside. In the middle rounds, you were using your jab, working from the outside, and in the later rounds, you went back to the inside. Obviously, it was very successful for you. Have you been working on your jab for the last year?
JM: I’ve been working on a lot of different things. So, what you just explained there is the mix between when I first came to Chicago. I was a brawler, it was the natural fighting style I had. And then Rick Ramos, my trainer, turned me into a boxer. And then we just figure out when to turn it on and turn it off, switch from one to another. We’ve been working on the jab, and we’ve been working on power shots, we’ve been working on foot movement . . . A lot of different things.
FP: Why the rematch, how did it come about?
JM: The rematch was supposed to happen right away, but I believe Arias got injured and couldn’t have the rematch, from there, we just went on to the next thing, which was the WBA title fight in Maryland. We still had a contractual obligation to fight with Arias, so she was next in line, and here we are.
FP: Arias hasn’t had a fight in the year since she lost the belt to you. What do you expect her strategy to be, do you expect her to do the same thing she did last time?
JM: I expect her to bring the same fight but maybe a just little bit better. As long as I’ve had away from her, she’s had away from me, you’d think that boxers would be bettering themselves, so I expect her to come out strong, and I expect her to try to last all the rounds. We don’t really focus on what the opponent is trying to do but keep things really sharp on our side.
FP: Let me ask you about your training – I’ve seen a number of your fights. One of the things that I’m absolutely most impressed about you is that you are one of the most in-shape people I’ve ever seen. I mean this with all due respect – to me, you’re the Shawn Porter of women’s boxing. You are going forward and don’t appear to have any quit in you. It’s an amazing thing to watch.
JM: Thank you.
FP: What is your training regimen like?
JM; We have strength and conditioning three times a week. We have sparring three times a week. In between, that is your regular workouts and your cardio. Training starts for me, let’s say on a Monday, I get up at 3:50 in the morning, training is at 4:45 in the morning for an hour. I have to be at my desk at work by 6. I train at lunchtime, whether it’s cardio or the steam room or some sort of stretching regimen. And then at 3 pm, when I get off work, I come here to Body Shots to do my own training or helping to train someone else or helping teach the kids’ class and then maybe having some sparring depending on the day. That’s Mondays and Wednesdays for me. So I leave the house at about 4:30 and get home hopefully about 8:30, so I have long days.
FP: What’s your road work like?
JM: It used to be 2 to 6 miles per day, probably Monday through Friday. Probably two at a time. My coaches never wanted me to do long road work. Females have shorter rounds, and we need to have shorter bursts and athleticism – so 2 miles at a time. So now it’s a little less than that five days a week.
FP: Are you increasing the speed for the shorter distance?
JM: Oh yeah, for sure. I just ran two miles two days ago, and it was like fourteen minutes. You definitely try to push it.
FP: Your day job is in regulatory compliance for an investment banker.
FP: How is it taking time off for your boxing commitments? Do you just put a request into H.R.?
JM: There’s a portal, I go into the portal, request the days off, and it is sent to the appropriate person, the days are approved, and then you’re there. I have been able to get a different type of PTO, I don’t know what it’s called, where you use your time for something positive because I represent [my employer], their brand, and they’re my sponsor, so they give me days off that don’t affect my regular PTO and it’s been a real blessing to have the extra time because I do go out to schools and talk to kids, and I do have obligations with Matchroom and Warriors. So, today, I took off, and they’re managing without me [laughing].
FP: You brought up Warriors, who originally signed you. This is your third fight under Matchroom. Are you still with Warriors, or are you being co-promoted with Matchroom?
FP: How does that affect you as a fighter?
JM: I would say that it is a positive thing because if I’m going to fights, say in New York, and Matchroom is there, and then I go to a fight in say Wisconsin, and Warriors is there, I have an “in” - I have a bigger network is how I see it with two promotional companies, and it is for my benefit.
FP: Let’s go back to your start in boxing. If I recall, you got into boxing sort of through the backdoor, through fitness classes?
JM: Yes. [laughing]
FP: And you were in your mid-twenties?
JM: Yes, mid-twenties.
FP: How long was it before you got into sparring for the first time?
JM: Not very long. I had a month kickboxing class. Once that month was over, I transitioned over to boxing through someone in the same building but a different instructor, and I started in October 2008. I think I started sparring right away and then I had my first exhibition bout at the end of 2008. So, it was very quick.
FP: What’s it like, you’re doing fitness, and then all of a sudden, you’re in a ring, and someone is throwing punches back at you. What was that like that first time?
JM: I think it was just, kinda like, okay, this is really going to tell me what’s up. If this is going to happen or not, when I got punched, I thought, okay, that wasn’t so bad. Now it’s my turn. I was happy with it, obviously.
FP: And you went on to win two Golden Gloves?
JM: Actually, three. I won Golden Gloves in 2010 in St. Louis, and then two Golden Gloves here in Illinois.
FP: You’d already moved up here to Chicago (from St. Louis) by the time you won the Golden Gloves in Illinois?
JM: Yes. I moved up here in December 2012.
FP: Coming from St. Louis, how did you meet Coach Ramos, how did that relationship start?
JM: That was probably one of the most difficult parts of my boxing career. This was right when Instagram came out, and I was too cool for Instagram, and I never had it. I was going out looking for places to train, there were MMA gyms, there were places I was running past, I emailed people, I called people, and they either didn’t call me back or said they weren’t a really a boxing gym. And so I get on Instagram – finally – and I understand that hashtags are just a filing system. So, I start putting in hashtags – Chicago boxing, Chicago female boxing, and I’m looking at what the pictures are, and I found that Rick Ramos had an all-female show in November 2013. It took me nine months to find him. So, between that time, I was doing my own workouts. There was a gym in my office, so I just used that as much as I could. From there I was thinking that I have to get on this show. So, I contacted Rick, he told me to come in, and from there we’ve been working together ever since.
FP: You spar with men?
FP: One of your sparring partners is Josh Hernandez, who is on the October 12 card as well. Are you guys training together, helping each other out?
JM: We’ve used Josh before. I can’t remember the last time he was in here. We’ve also used Shawn Simpson and a couple of nationally-ranked amateurs. We use a lot of the skill right here in Chicago, our fights to help get me ready.
FP: Let me preface this next question. I play hockey. When I play with women hockey players, they are simply fundamentally more sound than male hockey players. They know where to be on the ice, they’re always in the right position. So, what are the differences between male and female fighters?
JM: From the outside, I’ve heard that females are more fundamental fighters. But when I’m sparring with men, they’re very sharp, and they’re very fast, they’re very strong. And so I have to be just as sharp, fast, and strong to compete against them, so I’m raising my levels up. It’s the best situation I can be in because that’s making me a better fighter. We do have a boatload of females here at Body Shots. Summer Lynn is going to be making her pro debut on this card; we spar together. Kim Carlson, who is going to the Olympic trials for the 2020 Toyko Olympics – I spar with her, she’s at this gym as well. So, we have a great group here as well as the outside people that come in for us.
FP: So, what are you expecting on October 12? Are you expecting Farias to bring it to you, are you expecting a brawl? You have 3 KOs.
JM: I am definitely looking to add to those KOs. I can’t say I have power and not knock people out. So, going forward, that is how I want to end all my fights. I do expect her to bring everything she’s got. I don’t know how long that’s going to last. Like you said, we push the pace here, and we come with a lot of power, and there’s no quit in us.
FP: You lost your second professional fight. How did you come back from that?
JM: My coach said that’s probably the best time to take a loss. Rather than to rack up a huge, undefeated record, you have all these people with you, and then you get a loss, you have a lot of people quit on you. Being a beginner, and being in those stages of figuring it out, you take it as a woman. You’re humble, you go back to the drawing board, and you keep going. You have to lose the same way you win. You can’t be upset and throw chairs or anything like. You have to take it, congratulate the other person, and if you get that rematch, take it to ‘em.
FP: When you hooked up with Coach Ramos, he told you that your journey would be quick. It certainly has been quick – two world titles in 9 professional fights. When you reflect on how quick this has been, what are your thoughts?
JM: He did tell me it would be quick, so I just sort of braced myself, and every time he told me, “we should do this,” I put my full faith in him and said, “let’s go.” You can never be surprised, and you always need to be ready. Rick has a lot of crazy ideas, but I believe in everything he does and stands firmly behind him. He’s brought me to this point, so we’re just going to keep going.
FP: Well, we rooting for you here in Chicago and looking forward to another “W” on October 12.
JM: Thank you.
(All Photos: Steven Weinberg/Frontproof Media)