Dazzling Price wins first world title

Lauren Price
Lauren Price is a world champion after just seven professional fights [Getty Images]

Lauren Price became Wales’ first female world champion boxer as she won via a wide points decision after an accidental clash of heads meant champion Jessica McCaskill was unable to continue.

Price, who becomes Wales’ 14th world champion, achieved the feat in just her seventh professional fight in front of a passionate Cardiff crowd at the Utilita Arena.

The new WBA, IBO and Ring Magazine welterweight champion, Price could be set for some huge nights ahead in a stacked division with the likes of Natasha Jonas, Sandy Ryan and Mikaela Mayer all now potential future opponents.

Price, a 2020 Olympic champion, won every round on the judges' cards after the ringside medics decided 39-year old American McCaskill could not safely continue.

“This has got to be up there with winning a gold medal,” Price said.

“Jessica McCaskill is a credit to the sport, but this was my night.

“I want to create a legacy and I honestly believe this is just the start. It took me a couple of rounds to find my rhythm, it was a tough fight… but I enjoyed myself in there tonight.

“I am only going to get better. I am still learning.”

Another Classic Cardiff fight night

Price, also a former kickboxing world champion and international footballer, had made clear she felt she belonged on the biggest stage after being catapulted into the limelight in just her seventh paid fight.

Fighting a mere 14 miles or so from her home town of Ystrad Mynach, Price was looking to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Joe Calzaghe, Enzo Maccarinelli and current world champion Joe Cordina who have all enjoyed winning nights in the Cardiff Arena.

Cordina, who has twice won world titles in the Welsh capital, had implored Price to enjoy her moment being centre stage, warning that she might never again enjoy the chance to fight in front of her home fans.

Price, who fought all over the world as an amateur, had never boxed professionally in Wales and the event, broadcast live on BBC Wales as the broadcaster showed a world title fight for the first time in 19 years, had a distinctly Welsh flavour.

The 29-year old entered the ring to the Welsh football anthem Yma o Hyd – perhaps unsurprisingly for someone with more than 50 Wales football caps - with former Welsh world champions Maccarinelli, Lee Selby, Steve Robinson and Barry Jones all in attendance at ringside.

Lauren Price throws a right hand at Jessica McCaskill
Lauren Price became world champion in just her seventh professional fight [Getty Images]

This was unquestionably the biggest night of Price’s professional career but she showed no signs of nerves as she sensibly looked to create space and distance against a fighter renowned for ploughing forward on the front foot.

A cagey first session saw Price land the slightly cleaner shots, keeping her composure as she landed with a flurry of punches at the end of round two.

McCaskill is a fighter who never takes a backward step but Price worked behind her jab and used her speed and movement to tag the American with a series of eye-catching shots.

The Detroit fighter was warned for holding and pushing in the third round and she struggled to deal with Price’s relentless pace, with the Welsh boxer looking far more experienced than her six pro fight resume.

Price and McCaskill had an accidental clash of heads in the fifth round that left huge swelling around McCaskill’s left eye as the home fighter began to take control.

Price’s professional legacy begins

Price, who dedicated her win to her grandmother Linda and late grandfather Derek, who raised her, says she wants to create a legacy for Welsh women’s boxing and winning her first world title is the first step.

A unique athlete who wrote in a school letter aged just eight that she wanted to be a world kickboxing champion, international footballer and Olympian, Price is used to chasing her dreams and has become a world champion just 23 months after making her professional debut.

The Rob McCracken-trained fighter had vowed that she would not allow McCaskill to turn the contest into a “dogfight” and was true to her word as she used her superior defensive acumen and speed to dominate from start to finish.

McCaskill’s corner were having to work overtime to deal with the swelling above her left eye, with the American flying out of her corner in the sixth session in search of the one big punch she felt could stop the fight in an instant.

However, Price was too composed to deviate from the gameplan and she continued to land the more telling blows as she continually tagged the champion on the inside before dancing out of reach.

The latter rounds became far more attritional for Price with McCaskill desperately swinging haymakers as she looked for the one punch that could change the course of the fight and ensure she kept her titles.

Jessica McCaskill's badly swollen left eye
The fight was halted after Jessica McCaskill's eye was assessed by the ringside medic for a second time [Getty Images]

However, the damage to McCaskill’s eye was too great with the ringside medic deciding at the start of round nine that McCaskill was unable to continue.

“Boxing has a new superstar,” Boxxer promoter Ben Shalom said.

Price’s trainer McCracken added that Price had done “brilliantly well,” and “is a credit to Wales".

On the undercard, featherweight Rhys Edwards underlined his credentials as his undefeated record continued with a unanimous and clear points victory over experienced opponent Thomas Patrick Ward.

Edwards is now 16-0 and won the WBA intercontinental title as he produced an eye-catchingly impressive display in front of his home fans.

Edwards’ stablemates Kyran Jones and Kane Shepherd were also victorious, with Jones beating fellow Welshman Lewis Howells on points while Shepherd beat Ismael Ellis whose corner retired their fighter after a one-sided contest including a knockdown.

There were also wins for heavyweights Moses Jolly and Hughie Fury, while Mark Jeffers knocked out Darren Johnstone in a middleweight contest, with Johnstone receiving oxygen in the ring.

BBC Wales was given exclusive access to the Price camp in the days before the fight.

You can watch the full documentary on demand.