Amanda Serrano was certain her next fight was going to get her one step closer to becoming undisputed champion.
The reigning WBC/WBO/IBO featherweight titlist was four weeks removed from her ninth-round knockout of Daniela Bermudez on a Ring City USA show this past March when the same platform aired another bout in her division. The April 22 edition featured an upset with Mexico City’s Erika Cruz soundly outpointing long-reigning WBA titlist Jelena Mrdjenovich to win the title. Talks surfaced of an immediate showdown between Serrano (40-1-1, 30KOs) and Cruz (13-1, 3KOs) targeted for this summer, only for Cruz’s team to have second thoughts and decline the opportunity.
Serrano—a record-setting seven division titlist from Puerto Rico who fights out of the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, New York—will instead make a voluntary defense versus Mexico’s Yamileth Mercado. The bout takes place Sunday evening on Showtime Pay-Per-View from Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, Ohio.
The development comes on the heels of IBF featherweight titlist Sarah Mahfoud also refusing to enter a title unification clash with Serrano, with Mahfoud and Cruz both turning down career-best paydays by far. With that, both will have to live with fighting for second place in a division where one of the sport’s pound-for-pound best is very much settled in and plans to reign until becoming Puerto Rico’s first-ever undisputed champ in the multi-belt era.
“If Erika Cruz and Sarah Mahfoud want to be considered the best, they have to face me,” insists Serrano. “Each of them was offered the biggest purse of their career to face me on August 29, and they turned it down.
“I want to be undisputed in this division, but they refuse to take any chances. All I can do right now is train to be at my best and make another statement against Mercado.”
Serrano attempts the second defense of her second featherweight title reign, officially returning to the weight in 2019. The Boricua southpaw regained her WBO belt following a dominant ten-round win over then-unbeaten titlist Heather Hardy in their September 2019 all-Brooklyn showdown at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York City.
Two wins have followed, both above the featherweight limit in non-title fights before returning to the weight for her knockout win over Bermudez on March 25 in Old San Juan. While undoubtedly let down over her fellow divisional titlists refusing to unify, Serrano instead focuses on what’s best for her career.
With that decision comes placement on a high-profile PPV card headlined by social media influencer and developing cruiserweight Jake Paul (3-0, 3KOs) who faces former UFC champion Tyron Woodley (boxing pro debut) in the main event.
“It means a lot to women’s boxing for me to be in this position to perform on this stage,” said Serrano. “We deserve to be in the spotlight. I’ll perform like I always do and represent for women’s boxing the best way I know how. I’m very excited that they chose me for this event.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox