Claressa Shields realized as she sat ringside April 30 that she was involved in something special for women’s boxing.
Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano delivered one of the fan-friendliest fights Shields can remember among women. A raucous crowd in excess of 19,000 at Madison Square Garden in New York made the event even more memorable.
Shields believes the middleweight title unification bout between her and rival Savannah Marshall on Saturday night has surpassed Taylor-Serrano as the biggest fight in women’s boxing history, yet Shields still heaped praise upon Taylor and Serrano four months after they produced an instant classic.
“I knew Katie Taylor was gonna bring the fight,” Shields told BoxingScene.com. “You know, she’s a dog. She’s tough. And Amanda Serrano, with all the knockouts, her goal was to knock Katie Taylor out. So, to see these two girls go at it and see Katie come in there and just have that same confidence she has every fight against a girl in her hometown, it was just great to see. And it was such a great fight.”
Ireland’s Taylor (21-0, 6 KOs) survived serious trouble in a rough fifth round to beat Brooklyn’s Serrano (42-2-1, 30 KOs) in their 10-rounder by split decision. The 2012 Olympic gold medalist retained her IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO 135-pound championships and helped create a remarkable atmosphere that Shields thoroughly enjoyed.
“At that time, I did look at it like the biggest fight in women’s boxing,” Shields said. “But now, I look at me and Savannah Marshall as the biggest fight in women’s boxing. And it’ll be more to come. But I think we definitely have the star power and the records for this fight to be the biggest fight in women’s boxing.”
Shields, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, won’t be satisfied unless she beats Marshall at least by unanimous decision in their 10-round fight for the IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO 160-pound championships. Unlike the aftermath of Taylor-Serrano, the Flint, Michigan native doesn’t want there to be any discrepancy regarding who wins when she meets Marshall at O2 Arena in London.
The three-division champion called Taylor-Serrano as part of DAZN’s broadcast team. While she acknowledged arguments can be made for Taylor or Serrano winning, Shields feels Taylor earned a close victory.
“I thought Katie Taylor won,” Shields said. “I think it depends on what you like. There were so many rounds where Katie got hurt by Amanda, but there were rounds Katie just won by points. Amanda wasn’t able to land her big shots in those rounds. I think the fifth round was a big round for Amanda. She hurt Katie in a corner with a big body shot and kinda stiffed her. But after that, Katie made sure she didn’t stay on the ropes. She kept circling, she got in, she got out and she kinda neutralized Amanda Serrano’s power.
“But if you look at it, you say, ‘Oh, you know, Amanda hurt her this round, that round, she landed more punches in this round, in that round.’ So, you can also say that Amanda Serrano won the fight. But me watching from my knowledge and from my way of thinking of boxing, I thought Katie won maybe six rounds to four.”
Judges Glenn Feldman (97-93) and Guido Cavalleri (96-94) scored seven and six rounds for Taylor, respectively. Judge Benoit Roussel scored six rounds for the left-handed Serrano, who won 96-94 on his card.
Shields (12-0, 2 KOs) will attempt to avenge her lone loss as a pro or amateur when she encounters England’s Marshall (12-0, 10 KOs) in a main event Sky Sports will broadcast in the United Kingdom and Ireland (7:30 p.m. BST). ESPN+ will stream the all-women’s card headlined by Shields, 27, and Marshall, 31, in the United States (2:30 p.m. ET).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.