Amanda Serrano is now halfway to her goal of becoming undisputed featherweight champion.
The record-setting seven division titlist was upgraded from interim to “World” champion by the World Boxing Council (WBC) on Thursday, adding to her 126-pound collection which already includes the World Boxing Organization (WBO) strap. The move came following a breakdown in talks regarding a targeted showdown with Edmonton’s Jelena Mrdjenovich, who has been named Emeritus Champion while remaining out of the ring for an indeterminate period.
A previously ordered negotiation period between the two was on the verge of heading to a purse bid which was scheduled to take place this Friday. The session has been canceled, as Mrdjenovich continues to adjust to the loss of Milan Lubovac, her longtime trainer and mentor throughout her career dating back to her pro debut in 2003.
“While the whole world was shocked by the pandemic in 2020, Mrdjenovich and her team were hit by an additional tragedy when her mentor, fatherly friend and longtime trainer Milan Lubovac suffered cardiac arrest in 2020,” the WBC noted in a statement addressing the ruling. “He has been in coma since, making it impossible for Mrdjenovich to focus on her career the way she had done it for the previous [eighteen] years.
“Because of her extraordinary achievements and her exemplary behavior throughout her career, the Women's Championship Committee unanimously decided to appoint Jelena Mrdjenovich as Emeritus Champion which will secure that she preserves all her rights as a WBC World Champion and will give her the chance to fight against the reigning champion whenever she feels that she is ready.”
With the upgrade, Serrano (39-1-1, 29KOs) now moves on to her next target, this time as a two-belt titlist.
The 32-year old Brooklyn-based Boricua southpaw will head home to Puerto Rico for her next title defense, putting her WBC and WBO belts on the line against a yet-to-be-disclosed opponent. The WBC release supported a previous news break that Serrano will face Argentina’s Daniela Bermudez (29-3-3, 10KOs), a three-division and reigning 122-pound titist who would move up in weight once the fight is finalized.
“The Committee has decided to confirm Amanda Serrano as WBC featherweight champion and will sanction the [unified title] bout against Daniela Bermudez. The bout is scheduled to take place on March 25 in Puerto Rico.”
Serrano confirmed on her newly formed “Serrano’s Corner” YouTube channel that the bout will headline the March 25 edition of Ring City USA on NBC Sports Network, although the series has yet to confirm details of that event. The date serves as the tail end of a three-show stretch all airing live from Puerto Rico, with the other two announced cards set for March 4 and March 18.
Serrano claimed the interim WBC featherweight title following a 10-round unanimous decision win over fellow Brooklyn native Heather Hardy. Their Sept. 2019 bout—which aired live on DAZN—also saw Serrano regain the WBO featherweight title she previously held in 2016, marking her only weight where she has enjoyed two title reigns.
Serrano has won titles at junior bantamweight, bantamweight, junior featherweight, featherweight, junior lightweight, lightweight and junior welterweight. The move up and down in weight has been done the hard way, having climbed as high as 140 pounds before dropping all the way down to 115-pounds in her very next fight to win her sixth and seventh divisional titles, respectively.
Through it all, the belief among her tight-knit team—led by Hall of Fame-elected promoter Lou DiBella and trainer/manager/brother-in-law Jordan Maldonado—was that her optimal prime exists as a featherweight. With that comes the goal to become the first-ever female boxer to fully unify the featherweight division, along with Puerto Rico’s first-ever undisputed champion—male or female—in the four-belt era (five including the IBO).
The division’s other title claimants include IBF champ Sarah Mahfoud as well as Mrdjenovich who still holds the WBA title.
The previously targeted fight with Mrdjenovich still represents a three-belt unification bout whenever it can be made, assuming Serrano prevails on March 25. With the Emeritus Champion status comes the right for Mrdjenovich to challenge for her old belt whenever she deems herself fit to return to the ring.
Mrdjenovich is a three-time WBC titlist along with having won the WBA belt in her March 2016 rematch with Edith Soledad Matthysse. Most recently, Mrdjenovich claimed a hard-fought 10-round win over Iranda Torres on a Dec. 2020 Ring City show which was intended to serve as a prelude to a showdown with Serrano.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox