CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois boxing history will be made on Saturday when - for the first time - a female is the headliner.
Jessica McCaskill, 32, is getting ready for the biggest fight of her pro career.
A three-time Gold Glove champion, McCaskill is ranked No. 1 in the U.S., No. 3 in the world and is prepping to fight for the ABO InterContinental title. The bout will be held Saturday at the UIC Pavillion in Chicago.
McCaskill has always been a fighter, but she just didn't realize her power until she stepped into the ring.
"There's a switch, we call it a switch and somewhere in the dressing room, maybe a couple fights before mine, we hit that switch and it's tunnel vision. And there's only one goal and that's to come out victorious," McCaskill
McCaskill moved to Chicago in 2012 and knew no one, but feels like she's found her true home in the ring.
"I knew her power was special," said Rick Ramos, her trainer. "Like a Mike Tyson wild, but she could punch. She just needed some organization. I said if we could organize her punches and slower her down ... I think we got something."
Finding a true home was significant after experiencing what it was like not to have one
Born near St. Louis, McCaskill has never met her father and only recently connected with her mother.
"My great aunt, she took care of me, she took me in and we went through our trials, our ups and downs, we were homeless for a while ... things fell pretty bad and we lived in the back of a church for six months," McCaskill said.
Ramos, her trainer, said surviving those experiences makes McCaskill capable of anything.
"You get through those moments, you can do anything," Ramos said. "All you have to do is fight three minutes with a girl? She's like, 'Done. Sign me up.'"
"Jessica's drive is unbelievable," said Juan Curiel, of the American Boxing Organization.
"I definitely think that being a fighter, it's not just about fighting, its about helping other people fight," McCaskill said.