Amanda Serrano is happy. She’s got herself a fight. And not just any fight, but the type of SuperFight she has been waiting her entire career for.
So let’s just say she’s not walking under ladders or letting black cats cross her path before she steps into the ring with fellow pound-for-pound club member Daniela Bermudez on March 25.
“I'm praying and hoping that this fight comes together,” she laughs. “It is in Puerto Rico, I'm the main event on NBC Sports (Network) and I'm super excited. I'm excited to be home and I'm excited to be in there with a great champion like Daniela. And we're gonna put on a helluva show for female boxing.”
She’s right. Of course, with the fight coming together quickly and only being announced late last month, there hasn’t been the proper time to give this clash for the WBC / WBO featherweight crown its just due. But suffice to say that this fight is just as big in significance as last weekend’s welterweight title rematch between Jessica McCaskill and Cecilia Braekhus, and as important a fight for women’s boxing as can be made at the moment.
The only question is, how did a fight of this magnitude get made so soon after Serrano saw another megafight – this one with Jelena Mrdjenovich – fall by the wayside again?
“It was Jordan's idea,” said Serrano of her manager, trainer and brother-in-law, Jordan Maldonado. “He had read something from Daniela's team, saying that she was willing to fight me. We know Daniela's a tough, true champion and a three-division world champion, so Jordan called (Serrano’s promoter Lou) DiBella right away and said let's make this happen. She wants to fight, let's do it.”
And now they’re going to do it, with Ring City USA jumping in to put on NBC Sports Network at the Plaza del Quinto Centenario in Old San Juan. Serrano leaves for Puerto Rico this weekend, and no, she’s not surprised that Argentina’s Bermudez, a champion at 115, 118, and 122 pounds, took the fight she called for.
“She's a warrior,” said Serrano. “She's fought great fighters and beaten great fighters, so she wants to challenge me in my weight class and she wants to become a four-division world champion, so she challenged the right girl. And I wasn't gonna not accept the challenge.”
Even on relatively short notice?
“We make sure we set aside a certain amount of weeks where we're gonna train hard,” said Serrano. “We know Daniela comes to fight and she throws a lot of punches and that's what we're training for. We're training for non-stop punches each and every second of every round, and we're training for ten rounds if it has to go ten rounds.”
And with a short time to fit in a full camp for a fight this big, it’s all hands on deck in Brooklyn to get the 32-year-old ready for battle.
“When I found out that I was fighting Daniela, it put a little fire under me and especially that it's in Puerto Rico, a main event, on a great network, I know I have to go out and give it my all and perform at my best,” she said. “And trust me, we've been training super hard. Even Jordan is sacrificing things that he wouldn't sacrifice. He's actually doing mitts with me. (Laughs) But we're training hard, I've been getting great sparring with my sister (Cindy), and she's been cooking my meals for me, so it's a family thing and we're all working together to come out victorious in this fight.”
The excitement in Serrano’s voice is evident, and it’s about time that she got a fight like this. Sure, she has world titles in seven weight classes, but the big fight has always eluded her, most notably bouts against Mrdjenovich and Katie Taylor which appeared to be done deals until they weren’t anymore. That’s led Serrano to build her stellar 39-1-1 (29 KOs) against whoever was willing to sign on the dotted line, with her biggest fight likely against Heather Hardy in September 2019. And after a near shutout win, the odds of other notables willing to step up were slim and none.
“It's bittersweet,” said Serrano, who logged a pair of MMA fights in 2018 while looking to advance her boxing career. “I want to fight. That's why I'm in the business. I want to fight, and I want to fight the champions and want to become undisputed and fight the best. So it's kind of frustrating when stuff like that happens.”
And while the titles are nice, the recognition as one of the best is satisfying and being avoided is a backhanded compliment, getting heat for winning vacant titles is disappointing, especially when there were champions who let their belts go instead of stepping between the ropes to face Serrano.
“The critics are so quick to talk, and they don't understand the business side and they don't understand that we challenged champions at these weight classes and they either gave it up, they didn't want to fight, or the money wasn't right,” she said. “I understand that, but I didn't just wake up and the titles were vacant and we decided to fight for them. It wasn't like that.”
Unfortunately, it’s been the story of her career as of late, leaving her to fight 17-14 Simone Aparecida Da Silva and 36-12 Dahiana Santana (who she previously stopped) in 2020 just to stay busy and keep her hands sharp. Serrano did what she needed to do with that level of competition, but just like the world is trying to forget 2020, the Puerto Rican southpaw is doing the same, focusing on 2021 and a fight that may begin the best chapter of her boxing story yet.
“This is what you want,” she said. “You want to put on a show and you don't want to have the reputation of that girl being the one who won the vacant championship or fighting girls that I'm not supposed to be in there with. But those girls I'm not supposed to be in there with, I finish it early like I'm supposed to, and the girls that are worthy to be in there with me, it's gonna be a great fight, and I guarantee that Daniela's coming to fight and so am I and I have to make sure I put on a great show for everybody.”