Boxing

Amanda Serrano will have to survive in the trenches says Katie Taylor ahead of iconic world title rumble

Promotor Eddie Hearn, boxers Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano, and Jake Paul (right) during a press conference at The Leadenhall Building in London yesterday. Picture: Adam Davy/PA Wire
Andy Watters

AMANDA Serrano will be tested like never before and she'll have to prove she has the heart to survive war “in the trenches” when she steps up to Ireland's undisputed world champion Katie Taylor at Madison Square Garden, New York on April 30th.

The fight is without question the biggest in the history of women's boxing and the world will be watching when Taylor puts her legacy as female boxing's pound-for-pound greatest on the line against Puerto Rico-native Serrano.

Eddie Hearn described the Manhattan rumble as “a game-changer” for women's boxing and reported that it has had the second biggest pre-sale in the history of the sport. Co-promoter Jake Paul said the meeting of the world's top two was a lesson to the rest of boxing.

Taylor, who beat Serrano's sister Cindy in Boston in 2018, says this is the fight she has wanted from “the get-go”.

“Ever since I turned pro I've had my sights set on Amanda Serrano and I'm so excited this fight is actually happening now,” she said.

“I genuinely believe that this is the best fight in boxing right now, the most exciting fight in the sport and the fact that it's headlining Madison Square Garden and the pre-sales are the second-best in boxing history means that this fight is even more important than we realise. It proves that there is a big appetite out there with the public for these fights.

“Not only are we breaking the seal on female purses but we have changed the public perception of the sport and if our careers have only achieved that then all the hard days in the gym will have been absolutely worth it.”

Taylor has been forced to work hard in her last half-dozen fights, particularly by Natasha Jonas in May last year. The 35-year-old says those fights have left her battle-hardened and ready for the biggest test of her career against hard-hitting 33-year-old Serrano.

“I'm expecting the toughest fight of my career and I'm preparing for that,” she said.

“I know that I won't be found short of grit or heart and I know my mind can take me to places that I have no right to go because I've been there before in the gym and on big nights and the whole world has seen me doing it.

“I don't think anybody can ever ask the question: ‘Does Katie have what it takes to go to that place when the fight is in the trenches?' because that question has been answered. I'm not sure Amanda has answered that question. Her legacy will depend on the answer to that question and we'll find out on April 30th.”

Seven-division world champion Serrano has 30 stoppage wins on her 42-1-1 record and the single loss was in Sweden almost 10 years ago. She is aggressive and a powerful, spiteful puncher who is stepping up to lightweight to challenge Taylor.

“My plan is to fight smart and be smart,” she said.

“I know I have all the tools to beat Katie Taylor, I just have to go out there and be smart and victory will be mine.

“I have everything.

“There's no questioning my skills, my heart, my power, my chin… There's nothing Katie Taylor has to answer the questions that need to be answered. I have Latin blood and I have all the heart in the world.

“I have nothing but respect for Katie as a champion and what she's done in the sport. Right now, I don't dislike her but come April 30th, when I'm in that ring, it's a different story.”

In boxing the pound-for-pound best have been kept apart too often down the years and co-promoter Jake Paul said Serrano and Taylor had set an example to the sport.

“These ladies are doing in boxing what most people aren't doing,” he said.

“The pound-for-pound two best are going at it and this is what boxing needs whether it's male or female. Boxers across the sport should take notice of these two ladies – make the big fights happen if you're one of the pound-for-pound best. Tell your promoters you want the fights, that's what these ladies did and that's why we're here.”

KATIE Taylor turned down Amanda Serrano's offer to make their lightweight world title rumble the first in women's boxing history to be scheduled for 12 three-minute rounds (the current distance is 10 two-minute rounds).

Seven-weight world champion Serrano defended her world title for a measly purse of $4,000 at one stage of her career. She has had to climb the ladder step by step and, alongside Taylor, drag a sceptical world along with her. Now she wants equality with men's boxing and that includes fighting over the same championship distance.

“The struggle has been real and I'm super-happy and excited that I finally get to see a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel,” she said at yesterday's press conference in London.

“In this fight with Katie Taylor we are making history and that's what I want, I want to open the doors for the new generation coming into the sport.

“I'm a woman for equality and we'll be making history at the Garden, being the first women to headline there, we are making the biggest payday for both of us and I think we should continue and make this fight iconic and make changes in this game and if Katie Taylor is willing I'm ready to make this fight 12 rounds of three minutes.

“This is all about equality and we should make the change right now. Katie are you up for it?”

But Taylor, who has gone to the final bell in each of her last seven contests, rejected Serrano's offer. For her the fight is “already iconic” and she saw no reason to disrupt and reconfigure her training schedule at this stage.

“The fight is already iconic the way it is,” said Taylor.

“We are making a stand in the way we're actually fighting each other in the first place. It's the best fighting the best and the winner of this fight is going to be the best pound-for-pound female fighter in the world so we are already taking a stand.

“This fight will tell us who the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world is, so that adds another edge to it and it's another reason why it's so historic.”

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Boxing