As Amanda Serrano looks to conquer another weight division in pursuit of a long-sought superfight, steps are being taken to fill the potential void at featherweight.
The record-setting seven-division and reigning unified WBO/WBC featherweight titlist has been issued a 48-hour deadline from Thursday morning to inform the World Boxing Organization (WBO) of her intended plans beyond her next scheduled bout. An official letter submitted to Serrano and head trainer/co-manager Jordan Maldonado informed the Brooklyn-bred Puerto Rican southpaw of a request to stage a WBO interim title fight between former junior featherweight titlists Marcela Acuña and Debora Dionicius. Both boxers now campaign at featherweight and with the fight itself already scheduled for November 20 at Luna Park Stadium in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Serrano (41-1-1, 30KOs) is scheduled to next face Spain’s Miriam Gutierrez in a lightweight bout December 18 as the Showtime Pay-Per-View co-feature to a bout between Jake Paul (4-0, 3KOs) and Tommy Fury (7-0, 4KOs) at AMALIE Arena in Tampa.
“Please be advised that on Wednesday, November 10, 2021, the WBO confirmed receipt of email correspondence on behalf of Ms. Georgina Rivero of O.R. Promotions requesting sanction approval for the Interim WBO Female Featherweight Championship,” Luis Batista-Salas, chairman of the WBO Championship Committee informed Serrano and her team in a letter via email, a copy of which has been obtained by BoxingScene.com. “The basis of the preceding request is procuring the continued activeness of the WBO Featherweight Division in light of your recent fight announcement against Ms. Miriam Gutierrez at the Lightweight Division on December 18, 2021, at the [AMELIE] Arena in Tampa Bay, Florida, United States of America.
“Considering the circumstances mentioned above, the Committee would authorize the requested interim championship until your decision is rendered within the applicable time frame set forth by this Committee as to whether your return to the Featherweight Division.”
Serrano’s fight with Gutierrez is intended to allow her to reacclimate to the 135-pound division as her team continues to work out terms for a massive pound-for-pound showdown with undisputed lightweight champion Katie Taylor (19-0, 6KOs). It comes in lieu of her previous goal to fully unify the featherweight division, one that Serrano was forced to abandon due to the reluctance of—if not outright refusal by—IBF champion Sarah Mahfoud and recently crowned WBA titlist Erika Cruz Hernandez to meet the Puerto Rican superstar in unification bouts.
In moving forward with her career, Serrano will fight above the junior lightweight limit for just the third time in her career. The previous two occasions were both in title fights. Serrano’s first trip above 130 came on the road, knocking out Maria Maderna in the sixth round to win the WBO lightweight title on the road in August 2014 in Buenos Aires. The feat marked her second divisional title win at the time, since going on to claim five more weight divisions.
The sixth divisional title win for Serrano came in her lone other bout above 130, taking a ten-round decision win over Yamila Reynoso in September 2018 to claim the vacant WBO junior welterweight title. The fight took place three divisions above her previous weight ten months prior. Serrano then dropped all the way down to junior bantamweight just four months later, knocking out Eva Voraberger in just 0:35 to win the vacant WBO title in January 2019 before returning to featherweight that September, where she outpointed fellow Brooklynite and reigning WBO 126-pound titlist Heather Hardy for her second and current weight at the weight, along with adding the WBC interim title.
Serrano has since defended the title twice, scoring a ninth-round knockout of three-division titlist Daniela Bermudez this past March in Old San Juan. Serrano added the full version of the WBC title by that point, defending both belts that evening and again in her most recent start, a ten-round decision over WBC junior featherweight titlist Yamileth Mercado this past August 29 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland.
The win over Mercado came as the co-feature to Paul’s eight-round decision win over Tyron Woodley atop a Showtime PPV. Serrano would join forces with Paul’s Most Valuable Promotions company, bringing on the content creator as her co-manager upon splitting with Hall of Fame promoter Lou DiBella after more than five years.
Paul and his team hit the ground running in lining up big opportunities for Serrano, chief among them plans for a highly anticipated showdown with Taylor tentatively eyed for next spring. New York City’s Madison Square Garden is already being sought as a potential hosting venue for the fight, though Serrano still has to first get past Gutierrez, whose lone career defeat is to Taylor last November.
Taylor also has to emerge victorious in her planned December 11 title defense versus an opponent to be determined at M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool, England.
Before all of that, Serrano needs to confirm with the WBO of her upcoming plans.
“Conversely, it is of public knowledge the discussions of a potential Undisputed Female Lightweight Championship clash between you and Ms. Katie Taylor in the near future,” notes Batista-Salas. “Therefore, if the Serrano/Taylor bout is conducted, the Committee would proceed accordingly as to the status of the WBO Featherweight Division. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if you decide after the Gutierrez commitment returning to the Featherweight Division, the winner of the proposed Interim WBO Championship Contest must face you within 120-days after your upcoming bout to determine only one champion at the Featherweight Division.
“Wherefore, you are hereby ordered to respond and present your position within the next 48 hours upon issuance of this notice letter as to whether you agree or object to Ms. Rivero’s sanction request on behalf of O.R. Promotions and the conditions set forth herein. Failure to comply with this order will constitute a waiver to all rights hereunder and with the Committee reserving the right to issue all rulings necessary, helpful, and convenient to accomplish the purposes, policies, and intent of the WBO Regulations of World Championship Contests.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox