Amanda Serrano has long sought to become Puerto Rico’s first-ever undisputed champion.
The team surrounding the record-setting seven-division titlist has taken a significant step to add to her already historic career.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that plans are in place for Serrano (42-2-1, 30KOs) to next face Denmark’s Sarah Mahfoud in a multi-belt featherweight title unification clash. Serrano’s WBC/WBO/IBO titles and Mahfoud’s IBF belt will be at stake in the co-feature to the Joe Joyce-Joseph Parker heavyweight clash set for September 24 on BT Sport Box Office from AO Arena in Manchester.
Event promoter Frank Warren's Queensberry Promotions announced the fight on Tuesday.
“I am delighted to welcome a modern boxing icon in Amanda Serrano onto our huge September 24 card with four world title belts on the line," Warren stated. "The stakes are obviously very high, which fits in nicely with the main event between Joe Joyce and Joseph Parker fighting for the right to take on the winner out of Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua. I am looking forward to seeing Amanda fight in person once again after being present for her fight in Cleveland and what she has achieved in boxing is quite remarkable. She is bidding to become a four-belt world champion at featherweight against an unbeaten champion in Sarah Mahfoud, which makes it a superb attraction to add to our BT Sport Box Office event at the AO Arena in Manchester.
“We look forward to working with Jake Paul and Most Valuable Promotions again as Jake has cultivated an incredible following and is drawing them into the sport of boxing. When I was over in Cleveland with Daniel and Tommy you couldn’t fail to be impressed by the enthusiasm and fervour of the audience, who were in their seats and gripped from the start of the show right through to the main event.”
There is one remaining hurdle to clear for the fight to move forward, though expected to be immediately resolved.
Brooklyn’s Serrano remains on the hook to honor a WBO mandatory title defense versus interim titlist Brenda Carabajal (18-5-1, 9KOs). The bout was due to serve as the co-main event of an August 6 Showtime Pay-Per-View event from Madison Square Garden in New York City. The entire show was canceled one week prior due to a significant dispute over the final contracted weight for the proposed Jake Paul-Hasim Rahman Jr. clash in the show’s headlining act.
Paul’s Most Valuable Promotions announced that the non-televised undercard fighters would be compensated 50% of their contracted purse without having to commit to their agreed upon fight on a future show. Serrano-Carabajal was among the three bouts that MVP sought to reschedule, with the Brandun Lee-Will Madera 143-pound clash landing on this weekend’s Showtime quadrupleheader from Hollywood, Florida.
A title unification bout between Serrano and Mahfoud (11-0, 3KOs) is a far more attractive option than a Serrano-Carabajal title consolidation fight. However, the latter was a required commitment by Serrano to retain her WBO title that she was nearly forced to relinquish following her April 30 split decision defeat to undisputed lightweight champion Katie Taylor in their historic superfight at MSG.
WBO rules stipulate that any reigning titleholder who is unsuccessful in a title fight outside of his or her reign is subject to being stripped of said title. An exception to the rule is in the case of designated WBO “Super Champions”, a status that Serrano has long held through her years representing the sanctioning body in several weight divisions.
A May 18 ruling landed in favor of allowing Serrano to retain her title. However, it came five days after Carabajal claimed a ten-round decision over Debora Anahi Dionicuis in their May 13 interim WBO featherweight title fight.
The expectation is for the fight to move forward and for the WBO to assign the winner to next face Carabajal.
Mahfoud is free and clear of any obligation. The 32-year-old Danish boxer outpointed Carabala in a February 2020 interim IBF featherweight title fight, receiving an upgrade to full titlist later that June. One successful defense has followed, a ten-round decision over Nina Meinke on April 21 in Copenhagen.
“This is an amazing opportunity for me to fight for four world title belts against one of the biggest stars in the sport of boxing,” noted Mahfoud. “It will be an experience like no other to win three more belts in England and then take them all home to Denmark.
“It will be my first fight outside of Denmark and I cannot think of a better place to fully introduce myself and my talent to the wider world than beating Amanda Serrano in Manchester. I would like to send my appreciation to everybody involved for making this happen.”
Serrano will enter her first true unification bout even while currently serving as a unified titlist. The Boricua southpaw—who turns 34 in October—regained the WBO featherweight title in a ten-round win over then-unbeaten titleholder Heather Hardy in September 2019.
The fight also came with the interim WBC title at stake, which Serrano upgraded once reigning unified WBC/WBA titlist Jelena Mrdjenovic was deemed unable to proceed with the ordered title consolidation clash due to the passing of longtime trainer and mentor Milan Lubovac.
Serrano added the vacant IBO title and defended her WBC/WBO titles in a ninth-round knockout of Daniela Bermudez last March in Old San Juan. Five months later came her most recent title defense, a ten-round decision over WBC junior featherweight titlist Yamileth Mercado who moved up for their bout last August 29 in Cleveland.
“I am so excited over the prospect of fighting in the UK,” said Serrano. “It has been on my to-do list for a long time, with the amazing fans who really get behind the sport, as well as the huge growth in women’s boxing. To be fighting in the biggest arena on a big heavyweight night will make it an amazing occasion to win a fourth world championship belt at featherweight.”
“I would like to thank Frank Warren and Queensberry, along with Jake Paul and MVP, for making this possible for me and I promise the UK fans will not be disappointed.”
Two fights have since followed at lightweight for Serrano since her last title defense—a dominant ten-round win over former title challenger Miriam Gutierrez and her narrow and disputed defeat to Taylor on April 30 in what remains the leading candidate for 2022 Fight of the Year. Talks swirled of a potential rematch given the incredible action in the ring and the commercial success surrounding the blockbuster event. It never came to pass, however, as both will go their separate ways for the moment.
Serrano will fight for the first time in England and second overall in Europe. Her lone other trip abroad resulted in her previous defeat, a ten-round decision in a competitive bid with then-unbeaten WBC junior lightweight titlist Frida Wallberg in April 2012. A ten-year, 28-fight unbeaten streak followed, with Serrano—who previously held the IBF 130-pound title—going on to win titles in six more weight divisions, shattering the all-time mark for any female as well as any Puerto Rican boxer, regardless of gender.
Tuesday's announcement allows her to move one belt closer to becoming the island’s first undisputed champion in the three- or four-belt era. The division’s lone other titlist is WBA champ Erika Cruz, who will next face Mrdjenovich in a soon-to-be-announced September 3 rematch.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox