Well, if Amanda Serrano is looking at her Wednesday fight in the Dominican Republic against former opponent Dahiana Santana with a glass half-full approach, she could say at least she’s missing the snowstorm about to hit Brooklyn.
Or the seven-time world champion might just embrace the opportunity to pick up her second fight of the year before 2020 turns the page to 2021.
But it’s hard not to look at Serrano’s year as one of “could have beens,” starting with what was supposed to be a SuperFight with undisputed lightweight champion Katie Taylor. That didn’t happen, but there was hope that this week would have seen her and fellow featherweight star Jelena Mrdjenovich fight on the same Ring City televised card on Thursday. That didn’t happen, either, neither through any fault of her own. So here she is, fighting in the DR on a Wednesday night against someone she stopped in 2017.
“I was pretty disappointed because it definitely would have been a statement fight,” said of the Thursday Ring City card in Hollywood. “I was gonna go and try to knock out whoever they were gonna put in front of me and she was gonna go out and try to do the same. So it would have been a pretty sweet thing if both of us got victories leading up to us fighting each other in 2021. It would have been cool, but I'm used to disappointments (Laughs), so I'm just excited and happy that I do get this opportunity on Wednesday to get into that ring again, fight and make some Christmas money.”
The doubleheader with Canada’s Mrdjenovich almost happened, but bouts with Brazil’s Taynna Cardoso and Argentina’s Ana Romina Guichapani both fell through due to COVID-19 related complications and travel issues. At that point, Team Serrano was ready to call it a day for 2020, but promoter Lou DiBella found the Santana fight.
“We normally fight twice a year, so in order to act like we defeated 2020, we want to keep the tradition,” said Serrano’s manager, coach (and brother-in-law) Jordan Maldonado. “2020 has been a hard year for everybody, but by the grace of God, we get this opportunity to fight. We got to fight in the beginning of the year, and we're getting one now at the end of the year. It's definitely not what we wanted - of course we're looking for the bigger, tougher fights, but because of the pandemic, there's not a budget. A lot of shows are being canceled, and we're grateful to Lou, who worked his butt off to try to get us on, and this is what came up.”
WBC / WBA champion Mrdjenovich will still face Iranda Paola Torres in her first U.S. fight on Thursday, and it’s expected that the WBC will issue a 90-day deadline to make a fight with interim champion Serrano, but Team Serrano isn’t too confident that the long talked about showdown will happen.
“My gut feeling is that she's gonna find a way to get out of the fight and I believe that she's gonna do what a lot of fighters do and that's give up the title to not fight her,” said Maldonado. “Sabrina Perez opted out of fighting us at 118 and 122. Ana Esteche, she gave up the 140 belt not to fight us. And the champion at 115 was Raja Amasheh, and she decided to vacate the title not to fight us, hence all the vacant titles that we fought for. They all had champions.”
Not too many fighters are lining up to face the hard-hitting Puerto Rican, but one who was willing to make the walk was IBF featherweight champion Sarah Mahfoud, but their proposed bout this month didn’t happen when the event they were on was scrapped due to COVID-19 concerns. So if Serrano doesn’t get Mrdjenovich in the ring, she is more than willing to try to get a fight done with Mahfoud again, but as Maldonado points out, at this level of the game, the reward on both sides has to be worth the risk.
“I'm not gonna blame all the girls because it's the same situation with us and Katie Taylor,” he said. “It's the biggest fight, but we want to get paid correctly.”
Ah, Katie Taylor. It was supposed to be the biggest fight in women’s boxing history, but the coronavirus, then contractual issues ended it before it began. Maldonado doesn’t mince words when discussing why the bout never happened.
“It's being built as the biggest fight in female history, but the numbers are not reflecting that of such a big fight,” he said. “If the fight is that big in magnitude, I believe it takes two to tango. Both girls are the ones making it that way, so why is there an 80-20 purse split? I was willing to accept 60-40 in Katie's favor; I respect her, I know she deserves it. Anything less than that is insulting to me. I'm not taking 70-30 or 80-20. That's crazy.
“Aside from me being her manager and her trainer, that's my family,” Maldonado continues. “That's my sister-in-law, that's my wife's little sister, that's my children's aunt. So I'm not selling my sister-in-law's value to some promoter who thinks his girl is worth ten times more than mine. If that's the case, then stop using my name, stop promoting you fighting us. We'll continue to do what we have to do.”
Maldonado does have a plan, though, especially on the heels of Taylor’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, agreeing with his fighter Ramla Ali’s comments that pay in women’s boxing will go up when there’s a larger commercial value for a fight. So Maldonado plans to have Serrano unify the featherweight titles in 2021 and then go back to Hearn and Matchroom Boxing with a fight between two of boxing’s undisputed titleholders.
“I was giving you Amanda Serrano, a seven-division world champion and you felt that her value was at a certain level,” he said. “So what does Jordan and Team Serrano do? Now we're going to try and bring you a seven-division world champion who's also an undisputed world champion. And I'm hoping that once we do that and come back to the table, our worth is higher. You're saying we need to do stuff to keep our marketability up, so we're doing that. We're gonna take two fights - the Mahfoud fight, the Jelena Mrdjenovich fight and we're planning to come out victorious and become an undisputed champion.”
Now that’s a plan. And Serrano, who also plans on continuing her mixed martial arts career next year, is all-in.
“It's always disappointing when you don't get the fights that you want,” she said. “But hopefully it will all come together. In 2021, I want to become the undisputed champion. That's the next goal. It's frustrating and disappointing, but it is what it is - this is female boxing.”