You can include Amanda Serrano among the growing list of legitimate boxing people who have warmed up to social media influencer Jake Paul and what he has to offer the sport.
The record-setting seven-division and reigning WBC/WBO/IBO featherweight titlist has been tabbed to appear in the co-feature slot on the August 29 Showtime Pay-Per-View event featuring Paul (3-0, 3KOs) in the main event. Serrano (40-1-1, 30KOs) will face Mexico’s Yamileth Mercado (18-2, 5KOs), marking her first fight on a Showtime platform since outpointing Yamila Reynoso to win the WBO junior welterweight title in September 2018.
The event will also mark the second time that Serrano and Paui appear on the same show. The 32-year-old Puerto Rican southpaw from the Bushwick section of Brooklyn scored an early knockout win on the non-televised undercard of Paul’s pro debut, a first-round knockout of AnEsonGib last January in Miami Gardens, Florida.
At the time, Serrano admittedly wasn’t feeling the infiltration of YouTube influencers crossing over into boxing, although she took an immediate liking to Paul. Having seen him fight and put in the work leading up to fight night has given her a greater appreciation for what he’s looking to accomplish.
“In the beginning, I thought it was a little frustrating,” Serrano admitted during a recent segment of Sirius XM’s At The Fights with Randy ‘The Commish’ Gordon and former heavyweight contender Gerry Cooney. ‘But I was able to train with Jake Paul when I was in LA. This kid, I can see that he’s serious about it.
“He don’t need to fight. He’s a millionaire for what he done with YouTube, with being an influencer. He don’t need to fight and he’s doing it. He’s taking it serious. He has surrounded himself by positive people, with boxing people. He’s definitely dedicated in this sport. I’m super excited to see where it goes.”
For Serrano, it means appearing on her biggest stage to date in her storied 12-year pro career. Already the owner of the most divisional titles in women’s boxing history and on the short list of hardest punchers ever, Serrano has only recently seen a surge in popularity and the level of respect she had long ago commanded.
Evidence of that was found in her most recent start, a ninth-round stoppage of Daniela Bermudez in the Ring City USA main event this past March in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Her bout drew favorable ratings for the upstart series on NBC Sports Network, along with drawing more than 13,000 unique visitors for a livestream of the event on Ring City USA’s Twitch social media channel.
For all that she has accomplished to date, Serrano will undoubtedly generate a new legion of fans following her next title defense. The event takes place at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, home to the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers and in Paul’s hometown. A sellout crowd Is expected along with favorable viewership for the influencer, who boasts more than 20.5 million subscribers to his YouTube channel and 16.5 million followers on Instagram.
Each of his three pro fights to date have generated plenty of attention, while also increasingly earning the respect of fighters like Serrano who have dedicated their life to the sport. Not to mention, she is now poised to be the coolest aunt in the world for a night.
“[H]e’s doing something for boxing,” Serrano notes. “Boxing has been dead for a little while. He’s bringing excitement. He’s bringing in viewership. He’s bringing in new viewership. I have two nephews, 11 year and a 13-year-old. Their friends are going crazy. They’re like, “Your aunt’s with Jake Paul (on the same card).” So, they gotta see me fight to see Jake Paul fight. It’s exciting.
“It was actually Jake Paul who wanted a woman fight on his show. [Showtime Sports president] Stephen Espinoza recommended me. [Paul] looked me up and said, “Yes, we need her.” He’s a supporter [of women’s boxing]. I’m excited for that. I can’t let him down. I got to step up and who better to do it against than a Mexican [fighter]. I told him on stage, “’You might have competition. I’m gonna steal the show.’ He started laughing and said, ‘No problem.’”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox