By Thomas Gerbasi
Take a look at Amanda Serrano’s social media accounts over the last year and there have been a lot of armbars and chokes, kicks and knees, but precious little punching.
“I’ve been doing it,” she laughs. “Not on social media, but I’ve been definitely doing it and I can’t wait to get back into that ring and throw some punches. I’m ready, I feel good, I’m confident in my punches and I’m gonna give a great show on September 8th.”
Serrano’s first boxing match of 2018 will see her face Yamila Esther Reynoso this Saturday in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, but she hasn’t been on vacation since her November 2017 win over Marilyn Hernandez. Instead, it all goes back to the grappling and kickboxing that has dominated her life since she decided to enter the world of mixed martial arts.
In April, Serrano made her MMA debut, fighting to a draw with Corina Herrera, but now it’s time to return to the sweet science where she has compiled a 34-1-1 record while picking up five divisional titles. This weekend she goes for number six when she battles Reynoso for the vacant WBO junior welterweight crown. So while MMA is rapidly becoming a huge part of her life, she hasn’t abandoned boxing.
“I have to make myself available to do everything that I have to do in both sports,” she said. “Boxing was my number one sport, but I’m learning MMA now, and I have to make sure I make time for everything. You can never underestimate any opponent, so I’m working really hard for this boxing fight, and in between, I’m doing my grappling, wrestling and all that good stuff in MMA. Right now, boxing is a priority, and then after that, we go back to MMA.”
With women treated like their male counterparts in MMA, it’s no surprise that several boxers have started to make their move from the ring to the cage. Sure, it’s a steep learning curve for those who have been boxing their entire career, but the reward is often worth the work. That’s good news for fighters like Serrano. It’s bad news for boxing, which still doesn’t treat the ladies with any sort of parity when it comes to purses and exposure.
Think about it, how much money would a five-division champion like Serrano be making and how many pay-per-views would she have under her belt if she was a man? We all know the answer to that one. And yes, things have gotten better in recent years for women in boxing, but when Serrano assesses the state of the game, she knows that she likely won’t reap the benefits future fighters will.
“I’m more optimistic for the future girls,” she said. “My only money fight is Katie Taylor. After that there aren’t many girls. If I don’t get the Katie Taylor fight, I would like to fight (Erica) Farias, or Marcela Acuna or (Mariana) Juarez, but I’m more optimistic for the young girls we have coming up in the sport. We have a lot more talented female fighters out there and it’s a shame that it’s at the tail-end of my career because I’m moving over to MMA. I’m just happy that I’m a part of paving a path for women boxers to come up in the sport and be excited to become pro fighters.”
So what about that money fight with Ireland’s Taylor? That’s another interesting situation for the Brooklynite, because on October 20, Taylor will defend her IBF and WBA lightweight titles against Serrano’s older sister Cindy. So if Cindy upsets Taylor, Amanda’s money fight disappears.
“I just hope when my sister does fight her, Katie Taylor doesn’t get too afraid to fight me,” said Amanda. “My sister’s not a walk in the park. My sister is tough, she fought the best out there, she’s a great boxer and she might even frustrate Taylor a little bit. So I don’t want her (Taylor) to be like, ‘This Serrano was tough. What’s gonna happen when I fight Amanda?’ I don’t want her to get too nervous.”
Serrano laughs, hopeful that she will get her chance to shine in boxing, but also resigned to the possibility that it may never happen. In that case, MMA is her backup plan, and while she didn’t get the result she wanted against Herrera, she showed the grit and poise under fire that she hasn’t been forced to show in boxing yet when she was mounted by her foe for much of the final round. In most cases, a mounted fighter will get stopped or submitted in short order. Serrano wasn’t going anywhere.
“I don’t think anybody needs that third round,” she laughs. “But I definitely answered a lot of questions to myself, to my team and to my promotion company that I am tough as hell and I’m gonna continue to work as hard as I can. I’m not gonna just give up. And it’s funny because she caught me in a guillotine, she tried an arm triangle and a rear naked choke, and I told my corner after the fight that you can tap in this sport but that did not even cross my mind, not one bit.
“The whole fight was a great introduction to MMA,” Serrano continues. “A lot of these girls transitioning into MMA, they get strikers, and they do well because it’s easy for them because they’re striking. But this fight, we got a well-rounded MMA fighter who’s been an MMA fighter for as long as I’ve been a boxer. She tried to take me down in the first two rounds and I showed the stuff I’ve been working on in the gym - my anti-wrestling and my defense. In the third round, she caught me off guard and I was a little tired, but there was not one point in that fight where I thought I was gonna quit, get tapped out or stop. There was no stopping me in that fight.”
She won’t have to worry about getting taken down, choked or kicked this Saturday. Amanda Serrano is back home – literally and figuratively – and she’s looking to remind everyone in boxing just how good she is.
“There’s a reason why I want to win this title at 140,” she said. “I want to show that I am a big girl, I can hold my weight, and no matter what weight they put me in, I’m gonna work hard and I’m gonna try to stop this girl to show that I can get stoppages at 140. All my titles I won by knockout, and this one is gonna be the same.”