NEW YORK – Katie Taylor can finally appreciate this fight for what it has become after earlier concern from her team that it wouldn’t happen at all.
A driving force in bringing women’s boxing to the Olympics and raising the pay for female boxers in the pro ranks, Ireland’s Taylor (20-0, 6KOs) is normally content with—and persistent about—facing the best available competition. It’s why she eagerly craved a pound-for-pound showdown with Brooklyn’s Amanda Serrano (42-1-1, 30KOs) even after the pandemic shut down plans for a scheduled May 2020 clash in Manchester, England. Efforts to reschedule the fight for that summer not only proved futile but left her team concerned that it would never come back around.
“I never believed this fight would happen,” Eddie Hearn, Taylor’s career-long promoter, confessed to BoxingScene.com. “We had it agreed twice, signed once. Amanda and Jordan Maldonado [Serrano’s trainer/manager/brother-in-law] never felt the money was right for the fight. but the money was ten times what she’d ever made. It was the right money at the time.”
The idea of fighting in the backyard of Matchroom Boxing’s headquarters and without fans due to mandatory social distancing measures wasn’t appealing to Serrano and her team. The decision ultimately killed plans for an August 2020 clash.
Taylor instead faced Belgium’s Delfine Persoon for a second time, winning a ten-round unanimous decision to retain the undisputed lightweight championship. The fight was a rematch to their June 2019 clash at Madison Square Garden in New York City, where Taylor earned a ten-round, majority decision to win Persoon’s WBC lightweight title while defending the WBA/IBF/WBO belts in becoming undisputed champion.
Taylor always identified Serrano and Belgium’s Delfine Persoon as two opponents she’d absolutely had to face upon turning pro in late 2016 following her second Olympic tour representing Ireland in the Rio Games earlier that summer. The Irish superstar landed Persoon, twice in fact. Now she finally lands the long-sought showdown with Serrano, which marks the first female fight to headline in the main room at MSG. An estimated crowd of 17,000 is expected to turn out Saturday evening—roughly 16,950 more than would have been present for a fanless show in England.
“It’s definitely bigger now than it ever was before,” Taylor told BoxingScene.com. “A couple of years ago we were about to fight during the fight in Eddie’s backyard. No people were going to be there, it would have been an empty arena.
“Here we are now in the most iconic venue in boxing. It’s going to be a sellout and I’m very, very grateful that it didn’t happen a couple of years ago. There was a time I was thinking, ‘Gosh, this fight wasn’t going to happen.’ It would have been an awful shame if it didn’t happen. It is the best versus the best and I’m very grateful.”
Taylor will attempt her thirteenth overall title defense and her sixth as undisputed champion. Serrano—who has won major titles at every weight from 115- through 140-pounds—seeks her second lightweight title reign, along with becoming Puerto Rico’s first-ever undisputed champion, regardless of gender.
Career-best paydays are in place for both fighters who will earn seven figures—also the first time both sides of a female bout each hit the two-comma mark—for a fight that has become an event in and of itself.
“Jordan even told me (Tuesday), ‘I told you how big this fight was.’ But I was like, this fight wasn’t this big three years ago when you signed the contract,” notes Hearn. “Now you’re getting a fuckin’ fortune, so good luck to you.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox