ORLANDO – The official decision was just as unbelievable hours later to Sandy Ryan as when her dreams were crushed in real time.
What should have been a clear win to unify three titles instead saw England’s Ryan settle for a questionable ten-round, split decision draw versus lineal, WBC, IBO and WBO welterweight champion Jessica McCaskill. Judge Mike Ross had it 96-94 for Ryan, while Mark Streisand’s card of 97-93 McCaskill was lustily booed. Barry Lindenman scored it 95-95) to produce the stalemate in their DAZN-aired championship Saturday from Caribe Royale Orlando (Florida),
The decision was met with deafening boos as most in the crowd and nearly everyone in press row felt Ryan should have left the ring with all of the hardware that was at stake.
“I don’t know what to say. The biggest fight of my life. I nearly changed my life (Saturday night),” Ryan said hours after the fight as she fought back tears. “We can get the rematch, hopefully. Jess’ team has agreed. Eddie [Hearn] is up for it. Everyone wants to see the rematch. We need to settle it.”
BoxingScene.com scored it 97-93 Ryan from ringside.
Matchroom Boxing—who promotes both boxers—was already in the process of finding a place for the return bout, whether by year’s end or in the first quarter of 2024. Promoter Eddie Hearn was vocal in his displeasure with the scoring in that bout and also on a random card turned in during Conor Benn’s win over Rodolfo Orozco in the evening’s co-feature bout.
“Look, Matchroom represents both fighters. Jessica McCaskill put up a great fight but Sandy Ryan won the fight,” Hearn told Boxing Scene and other reporters during a post-fight media scrum. “97 to 93 for McCaskill is just weird. We shouldn’t be talking about that. We should be talking about what a great fight that was.
“I feel like judges take that opportunity from the fighter, that life changing moment. Even the Conor Benn fight, that 96-94 card, I leaned through the ropes and said, “What fight were you watching?” It’s frightening. I believed Sandy Ryan put up the victory,”
Chicago’s McCaskill (12-3-1, 5KOs) previously held every welterweight title prior to her loss to Chantelle Cameron (18-0, 8KOs) in their undisputed junior welterweight championship last November in Abu Dhabi. McCaskill’s welterweight crown was not at stake in her move back down to 140, but language in the rules of the WBO and IBF served as grounds for both sanctioning bodies to strip her titles.
Ryan (6-1-1, 2KOs) was credited with the first defense of the WBO welterweight title she won in a ten-round decision over then-unbeaten Marie Pier Houle on April 22 in Cardiff. Little satisfaction came from merely retaining her title, as her U.S. debut was intended as a breakout night and to return home as a three-belt champion.
“I don’t know,” a dejected Ryan stated. “All I want to say is, thank you for all the support and the American fans in the crowd. It was an amazing night.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox