Women's boxing takes center stage on Saturday as Katie Taylor (20-0) and Amanda Serrano (42-1-1) face off in the big room at Madison Square Garden. It will be the first time in boxing history that two women have headlined a card at the world-famous arena. The fight is more than worthy of top billing.
Taylor is the undisputed and Ring Magazine lightweight champion. Serrano has won nine world title belts across seven weight classes throughout her career. This is truly a case of the elite meeting elite. While both fighters will be in the same place on Saturday, they have traveled very different roads to reach this point. From Bray, Ireland, Taylor enjoyed a medal-laden amateur campaign before moving to professional boxing after the 2016 Olympic Games. Taylor's success as an amateur ensured she would box on high-profile cards in large arenas and stadia from the outset of her professional career.
From Puerto Rico and residing in Brooklyn, Serrano has been a professional since 2009. Her journey to the top involved boxing on small shows in venues way off the large arena and stadium track. Serrano sought out world title challenges across the weight classes in order to earn a living from boxing. At some junctures, she also dabbled in MMA contests as she felt that sport afforded its female combatants better exposure than boxing.
Boxing has gotten its act together in that respect now, though, and Saturday's fight, which fans have been demanding for years, is finally upon us. Both fighters will reportedly be earning seven figures – it is the correct reward for a contest of this magnitude.
After all her years in amateur boxing, Taylor has evolved her style nicely to suit the paid ranks. While not as heavy-handed as some, Taylor's jab, speed, and sharp footwork remain staples of her ring craft. Since turning professional, Taylor has boxed exclusively in the 135lb weight class. She won her first-world belt (WBA) in her seventh contest before adding the IBF strap six months later. A ninth-round stoppage of Rose Volante in March 2019 netted the WBO crown, and just three months later, Taylor became undisputed champion by bagging the WBC belt with a majority decision victory over Delfine Persoon.
Speed is a huge asset for Taylor in the ring. She uses her reflexes and footwork to perfection to lure opponents into traps before scoring with counter punches and removing herself from danger. Will this strategy work against Amanda Serrano? Unlike Taylor, Serrano has moved around the weight classes throughout her career. She is known for her superb conditioning, stamina, and strength. Her high percentage knockout rate also suggests she is one of the hardest hitters in the sport. As well as the ability to win by stoppage, Serrano is technically excellent and can adapt to whatever style opponents present.
Serrano, who boxes out of the southpaw stance, actually won the WBO 135lb title back in 2014. Since then, she has gone where the title fights were – succeeding from super flyweight to light welterweight. Serrano's optimum weight is feather – she is still unified champion in that division – but she has always been prepared to box a few classes above or below the 126lb limit.
Serrano won the previously mentioned 135lb belt in 2014 via knockout. Will her power and skills enable her to beat Taylor by the same method on Saturday? Different career pathways and boxing styles are a feature of this matchup. So too, is a difference of opinion. In case you weren't aware, women's title fights are fought over ten two-minute rounds. There have been calls for this to be changed to twelve three-minute rounds.
At a London press event to promote the fight in February, Amanda Serrano made a case for Saturday's showdown to be contested over the same duration that men's world title fights are. Serrano remarked, “The struggle has been real, and I'm super excited and happy that I get to see a little light at the end of the tunnel with this fight with Katie Taylor – we're making history. I'm a woman for equality. If Katie Taylor is willing, I'm ready and willing to make this twelve rounds of three minutes. If we want to make a change, let's do the same as the men.”
Taylor's response stopped that notion from gaining any traction, and Saturday's bout will be ten two-minute rounds. “I don't really feel like that will make a huge change. The fight is already iconic the way it is.” Does this offer a slight insight into the mindset of both protagonists ahead of battle? More minutes may have increased Serrano's chances as she looks to unlock Taylor's defence and land her heavy blows. Regardless, both fighters know the duration and will have honed their respective training camps accordingly.
A quick analysis of this matchup suggests that Taylor is the more well-rounded boxer overall, but Serrano could be too strong and physical for her. In order to present slightly more detail on how the fight may play out, I contacted two seasoned boxing viewers for their thoughts.
Mike Crissinger Jr (@MikeCrissinger2 on Twitter) has long been a fan of Katie Taylor. I asked Mike how Taylor wins this fight: “I think Katie's hand speed gives her the advantage over Amanda. She doesn't want to linger on the inside too much because Serrano is a massive puncher. If Katie sticks to what she does best, she'll have a real chance to win a decision. The Persoon fights have seasoned Katie, and I think she will win a narrow decision in a fantastic fight. I'm so happy it's the main event because it's the biggest fight in women's boxing history, and they deserve this.”
Next up, I checked in with Henroc, my friend in New York. Henroc (last name redacted but on Twitter @Henroc05) is a regular at boxing events around the city and follows New York boxers closely. On Serrano's chances on Saturday, Henroc observed: “Amanda Serrano is a pressure fighter who loves to throw the left hook to the body and back up top to the head. As a southpaw fighter, she can get really good angles on her power shots. I'm interested to see her conditioning since she hired a nutritionist for this fight. She has made statements that she feels stronger now more than ever. I definitely think this is a very close fight; however, I'm giving Amanda the edge on points because she usually outworks her opponents.”
It is a tough fight to predict and one not to miss. At the time of writing, only a few tickets remain as the historic event closes in on being sold out. The full card will be shown on DAZN, starting at 7:30 pm EST on Saturday.
Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano have done things their way throughout their respective careers. Now their paths converge at 4 Pennsylvania Plaza in New York on Saturday night. Records will be broken, and both ladies should bring out the best in one another on an important night for boxing. If it lives up to the expectation, it could be the first of several meetings between the two.
You can follow Colin on Twitter @Morrie1981.