Equality is not really a concept, for any slack in fairness is essentially a sign of weakness.
Cecilia Braekhus both challenged and changed Women's Boxing long after Lucia Ryker and her dominance reinvented it. Holly Holm and her incredible achievements, probably conjures the kick that broke the myth of Ronda Rousey in Women's MMA, owing nothing to what she accomplished as a boxer. The very beautiful Laila Ali — never mind her unrivaled merit, was merely the daughter of “The Greatest”. I don't know if Claressa Shields will become “The GWOAT” (that would be The Greatest Woman of All-Time), but if she does do for Women's Boxing what Serena Williams has done for Women's Tennis (as she told me she would), it will owed in part to the blood, sweat and tears of a few proud New Yorkers.
“I want to thank DAZN and Eddie Hearn for cracking the door, but it’s time to knock the fucking door down,” said promoter Lou DiBella during the final press conference, with regards to Friday night's WBO featherweight title fight between champion Heather “The Heat” Hardy and 7-division world champion Amanda “The Real Deal” Serrano at Hulu Theater inside of Madison Square Garden. “This is an amazing card for DAZN subscribers and for boxing in general, but we all know that this event is about these two women,' DiBella continued, after leaving the stage. “It’s going to be a long overdue payday for them and an incredible fight. In many ways, its poetic justice.”
There are quite a few reasons why I'm looking forward to this card. Heavyweight sensation Michael Hunter (17-1, 12KOs) was a former heralded USA amateur standout months before facing (and losing to) Oleksander Usyk when I interviewed him just before 2017. Now set to face Sergey Kuzmin (15-0, 11KOs), a real badass type from Russia who's caused problems all over the world, it'll be interesting to see where he is at this stage of his career.
Then there's star in the making Devin Haney (22-0, 14KOs), who when last I saw him, was taking in the festivities of the Tyson Fury spectacle among the press corps at Staples Center, after the riveting drama produced against Deontay Wilder. You could tell he was doing a little more than waiting in the wings. He'll actually headline against another Russian by the name of Zaur Abdullev (11-0, 7KOs), a tough fighter who has mixed it up in the training confines of MMA superstar Khabib Nurmagomedov.
But Abdullev has never left the lair of Vladimir Putin and had the look of a sacrificial lamb at the weigh-in. Haney revealed this week that none other than Floyd Mayweather “couldn't touch him” in sparring. Then, regarding pound-for-pound #1 Vasiliy Lomachenko, Haney boldly declared that he'd beat Loma ‘point-blank-period right now' and wants him after this contest. There's probably more elastic in that statement than a pair of Hanes briefs, but I understand his hubris. What he should do is prove to be one of the world's best lightweights along with “King” Ryan Garcia and Gervonta “Tank” Davis.
But for me, this night belongs to the ladies and the best female boxing match-up of 2019. Stylistically, since we're so used to equating everything to men due to network bias and cultural sexism, many wouldn't know it’s probably the feminine equivalent of a southpaw Miguel Cotto Vs a blonde ambition Madonna in Everlast gear who'll just try your ass. The beautiful dichotomy of this fight is that there'll be nothing but victory; for the best woman will win, in as much as the best woman won't lose. I don't really want to predict this fight, but that wouldn't honor the need of this columns' fans, so here we go…
As was the case when they first appeared in front of Madison Square Garden to promote this fight several weeks ago, both Heather Hardy (22-0, 4KOs) and Amanda Serrano (36-1-1, 27KOs) appeared in tight, all-black super heroine outfits on the podium for Wednesday's final presser at Dream Hotel. The difference is, “The Real Deal” possessed the Superman logo on her chest, which is probably apropos.
Thursday's weigh-in for Heather's WBO featherweight title saw both women tip the scales at 125.8 lbs, inspiring a “Who Wins?” edition straight out of the pages of a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. That's a style conversation entirely subjective as they're both attractive women. For the substance, I went back to video of Tuesday's outdoor workout in front of the Garden and saw a startling difference. After watching Amanda shadowbox in the ring for about a minute, then contrasting that with Heather skipping rope and shadowboxing — “The Heat” would almost have to bring a radiator into the ring to win this fight.
The only 7-division world champion in women's boxing history, Serrano, both on film and on paper, presents a much more dimensional set of skills and a broader technical base. She has better speed, feet, balance, nuance, variety and overall skills. At the twilight of 30 years-old, Amanda has about six years of youth on her side in comparison to Heather's 37 years of grit. For evidence of how this fight should go, we can turn to their common 2017 opponent Edina Kiss. After Heather won a pair of tough decisions over Kiss in March and May of that year, Amanda destroyed what may have been a cold and dry Kiss that summer in three rounds. Having both toiled in MMA for the better part of the last two years as well, when we look at their last “sweet science” appearances, that's also very telling.
I sat ringside and watched Heather win another nip n tuck affair via UD over a tough Shelly “Shelito” Vincent last October on the undercard of Daniel Jacobs Vs Sergey Deryvyenchenko, while Amanda (in between going downstairs to thrash Eva Voraberger in :60 this past January to add a WBO super flyweight belt ) grinded past Yamila Reynoso to capture the WBO super lightweight title on the undercard of Shawn Porter Vs Danny Garcia at Barclays Center last September. Shelito was nearly 40 years-old and far from the speedy athlete of greater flexibility that Serrano is. Heather has so much heart and will, but that won't be enough to offset Amanda's overall arsenal from the southpaw stance. Unless she's somewhat drained or diminished from the foray down to super flyweight (which she doesn't seem to be), Amanda Serrano should add another chapter to her legend by becoming the unofficial “Queen of Brooklyn”, stopping a game and proud Heather Hardy short of the distance to capture her WBO featherweight championship, along with the interim WBC featherweight title. Afterwards, the focus will undoubtedly point towards a legacy defining superfight with Katie Taylor.