EXCLUSIVE: Eddie Hearn insists Katie Taylor vs Amanda Serrano – which he says is 5x bigger than Shields vs Marshall – is the fight that will ‘change everything in women’s boxing’… and says Taylor will NOT retire just yet
- Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano square off in a historic bout on Saturday night
- They will become the first women to headline at Madison Square Garden
- Promoter Eddie Hearn insists it’s five times bigger than Shields vs Marhsall
- He also says the fight will leave an everlasting impression on women’s sport
- Sign up here to watch Saturday night’s fight exclusively on DAZN
Katie Taylor once went by the name of Kay Taylor. She would tie her hair up, hide it in her headgear and go toe-to-toe with her closest competition in Ireland; her closest competition who throughout the bout were unaware they were fighting a girl.
That was in the 1990s, and the dynamics in boxing have changed significantly since, a paradigm-shift the Bray fighter has played a pivotal role in. And on Saturday night, she – alongside her Puerto Rican dance partner Amanda Serrano – will make history as they become the first female fighters to headline a bout at Madison Square Garden.
From picking up a pair of boxing gloves at the age of 11, to winning Olympic gold in 2012, to becoming undisputed champion in 2019, everything in Taylor’s career has been leading up to this moment – one promoter Eddie Hearn insists will leave an everlasting fingerprint on women’s boxing, on women’s sport as a whole.
Katie Taylor (centre left) and Amanda Serrano (centre right) will make history by becoming the first women to headline Madison Square Garden on Saturday night
Taylor, who started boxing aged 11, would pretend to be a boy when she first took up the sport
‘This is the moment that will change everything in women’s boxing,’ Hearn told Sportsmail. ‘This is the moment where the world will stop, and go “wow, look at what’s happened”.
‘The place will be full, the show will be epic, the main event will be incredible and when people will leave that night, they’ll turn off their TVs or their phones and say “wow”, and they’ll want more.’
On Saturday night, two giants of the sport collide. Unbeaten, undisputed champion Taylor, 35, puts her full collection of lightweight belts on the line, against a nine-time, seven-division champion in Serrano, who is on a 28-fight winning streak and was last bested in 2012.
A contrast in personalities, with Jake Paul-backed Serrano more overt in her pre-fight confidence and Taylor fueled by unrelenting inner-belief, but also in styles: Taylor has won her last seven bouts on points; Serrano has won four of her last seven by stoppage.
The hard-hitting southpaw Serrano certainly carries a whack, but it’s Taylor who has the big fight night experience. In fact, it was at Madison Square Garden where the Irish fighter became undisputed champion, battling her way to victory over Delfine Persoon on a fateful night in New York, a night in which Anthony Joshua was knocked out by Andy Ruiz Jr.
And though Taylor herself was forced to endure a torrid evening, with many believing the relentless Persoon was the deserved winner, Hearn insists this is Taylor’s most arduous challenge yet.
The iconic fight venue has never had a headline contest featuring women in 140 years
It’s where Taylor became undisputed champion, controversially defeating Delfine Persoon
But Hearn believes Serrano – promoted by Jake Paul – will be Taylor’s toughest test to date
‘Yeah, I do [think it’s her hardest fight] because of the pedigree of Serrano,’ he said. ‘She’s a seven-division world champion, she punches very, very hard and it’s also the moment, the stage, that will be really interesting.
‘I’ve been thinking about the way Serrano’s going to have to deal with the occasion as well. Sometimes it can spur a fighter on, sometimes it can affect them, but there seems to be a real feeling from these two that they’re going to raise their games for the fight.
‘They know the world’s watching; they know they’re under pressure to produce a great fight. But in terms of Katie’s toughest fight, for sure, this for me is tougher than Persoon.
‘Persoon was an animal that night at Madison Square Garden, but this is a more dangerous fight. Amanda has huge punching power, which Persoon didn’t really have, just incredible work rate and aggression.
‘Katie Taylor likes to engage, she gets hit, she’s all action. She can punch herself; she punches very fast and very sharp.
‘But when you’re going in with a puncher – and Serrano definitely is a knockout artist – that is always a threat. It’s incredibly exciting. Either fighter could get knocked out.’
Hearn insists the hard-hitting Serrano, 33, has the power to knock Taylor out on Saturday
The Puerto Rican dynamo has stopped four of her last seven opponents within the distance
The bout is by many deemed bigger than the other massive scrap, Oscar Valdez vs Shakur Stevenson, taking place on the same night, such is the progression of the women’s game.
And it’s perhaps remarkable to think, in some people’s opinion, the fight could be topped in just a few months, with Savannah Marshall and Claressa Shields set to do battle this summer.
Though not yet announced, WBC, IBF, WBA and Ring Magazine middleweight champion Shields – unbeaten in the pro ranks – will travel to the UK to take on WBO titleholder Marshall, to date the only fighter to have ever beaten the American inside a boxing ring.
Another massive night in women’s boxing, but one Hearn insists is not in the same league.
‘I love that fight, by the way, but you can’t compare the two, because of the history and the legacy of both fighters,’ he said.
‘Shields is an Olympic gold medallist and undisputed champion, but she’s never really had a network deal, never really been a big commercial star. And Savannah Marshall – who is a really good fighter – has never beaten anyone.
‘If you look at the history of Serrano-Taylor, you’ve got one undisputed champion, one seven-division champion, one girl in Taylor who’s been supported firstly by Sky then DAZN, boxed all over the world, and Serrano who’s just boxed on Showtime PPV, and is now selling out Madison Square Garden.
‘If you did Shields vs Marshall at Madison Square Garden, it wouldn’t sell 3,000 tickets.’
Claressa Shields (right) and Savannah Marshall are also set to square off in the coming months
WBC, IBF, WBA and Ring Magazine middleweight champion Shields will come over to the UK
But Hearn – who signed Taylor back in 2016 – says it’s clear which fight is the bigger of the two
Hearn – who insists Madison Square Garden will be sold out come fight night- does recognise that boxing needs fights like Shields vs Marshall, however.
‘We’re not going to see a moment like this again for a while in women’s boxing,’ he said of the bout between Taylor and Serrano. ‘But what you need is other mega-fights to continue the trend.
‘We can’t afford for this to be a one-off, it’s just setting the bar like it’s never been set before. We need Shields vs Marshall, we need Mikaela Mayer vs Alycia Baumgardner. We need all these fights to set up big fights within the division.
‘The [Taylor-Serrano] fight is five times bigger, but still Marshall vs Shields is a really important fight for women’s boxing.’
For Hearn, it’s also the fighter pay that separates the two events. Both Taylor and Serrano will earn seven figures before pay-per-view sales even come into play, which Hearn believes will dwarf what Shields and Marshall will bring in.
But, the promoter stresses, it’s not a competition: rather, it’s a chance to show those coming into the sport what’s possible.
‘Both girls are getting seven figures for this fight,’ he said. ‘It shows female fighters the potential that’s there. It shows grassroot levels, all those young amateurs looking for a future in the sport that it exists.
‘This is everything I’ve worked for, for six years. And it’s everything Katie Taylor has worked towards for 28 years when she first walked into the gym and put a headguard on to pretend she was a boy.
Both Taylor and Serrano will earn seven-figures before the pay-per-view sales come into play
It will be by far the biggest payday in the career of Serrano, a seven-weight world champion
‘Her story is incredible. She’s the one. And if you speak to Shields, Marshall, Baumgardner, all those fighters, they’ll say she’s the one. She’s the one that inspired them.
‘Serrano deserves her dues as well. She’s been hustling for years for this moment; she talks about making $500, $1000 for a fight. By the time she’s paid everyone she’s got nothing. So, I’m pleased for her. But Katie’s the one. Katie will never say that, but I will.
‘Without her we’d never be here, and female fighters would never have the opportunities that exist today.’
Win, lose or draw, Taylor’s legacy is already cemented. Her impression on the sport will remain forevermore.
But Hearn – who insists he can’t see Taylor retiring any time soon, despite longing for her to exit the game undefeated after the biggest fight in women’s boxing – says, on a personal level, this is the fight she will be remembered for.
‘She has looked better than I’ve ever seen her in training camp for this fight,’ he said. ‘The last two performances have been ok, maybe a little bit flat, but is it because they’re against mandatory challengers that she didn’t really fear? Or is it because she’s getting old?
‘It’s a worry, but having seen her in this camp, I don’t see any concerns at all. She’s so fired up for this fight because she lives for these moments. When she started – forget what she’s achieved so far in the professional code – this is what she’ll be remembered for.
‘She will always be remembered for this fight, and she’s desperate to win.’
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