Amanda Serrano is poised to make history eight miles north of her Brooklyn neighbourhood at Madison Square Garden this weekend… the Puerto Rican star can seal a remarkable journey from disinterested teenager to undisputed champion by beating Katie Taylor
- Amanda Serrano faces Katie Taylor for undisputed lightweight glory on Saturday
- The 33-year-old will be aiming to dethrone 135lbs champion Taylor in New York
- The pair are the first ever female fighters to headline at Madison Square Garden
- For Serrano, victory will mark the pinnacle of her glittering 45-fight career
- Despite older sister Cindy’s love for the sport it took her a while to follow suit
- But 16 years after starting her own career Serrano is a seven-weight champion
- And she heads into Saturday’s crunch clash as a marginal betting favourite
Over three decades since her family swapped Puerto Rico’s golden beaches and gushing waterfalls for the concrete jungle of New York, this weekend history beckons for Amanda Serrano eight miles north of the Brooklyn neighbourhood she was raised in.
On Saturday night the 33-year-old will finally collide with Ireland’s Katie Taylor in the first ever female combat fight to headline at Madison Square Garden, the famous arena universally recognised as the Mecca of boxing, with all four of Taylor’s world lightweight titles up for grabs. It promises to be a seismic event for women’s sport as a whole.
Serrano has enjoyed a long and fruitful road to this career pinnacle. She has won 42 of her 44 professional contests, suffering just one defeat in bout No 16, and has swept up world honours in a record seven weight classes.
Amanda Serrano (R) faces Katie Taylor (L) for undisputed lightweight glory on Saturday night
Serrano can seal a remarkable legacy in the sport by becoming undisputed champion
No other female fighter, or Puerto Rican for that matter, has claimed titles in more than four divisions. Regardless of how she fares against Taylor, her legacy is already cemented.
Yet incredibly, the young Serrano who grew up on the working-class streets of Bushwick had no serious interest in boxing until her late teenage years, when older sister Cindy’s early success as a professional convinced her to follow suit.
Amanda arrived in Bushwick at just eight months old, with her family heading to New York to join the Nuyorican group of Puerto Ricans based in and around the city. Swimming proved more of an enticing hobby in her early years, but at the age of 12 she stepped foot in a boxing gym for the very first time.
Merely looking to lose weight, Cindy, six years Amanda’s senior, attended husband Jordan Maldonado’s gym to shed some pounds. Her 12-year-old sister accompanied her on a number of occasions and even landed a job there to earn some pocket money. However, Serrano’s early introduction to the sweet science still failed to win her over.
‘I was never a boxing fan. I didn’t know anything about it,’ she admitted in a 2017 interview with the New York Post.
Her family swapped the beaches of Puerto Rico for New York when she was eight months old
Pictured here with sister Cindy, Serrano grew up in the Brooklyn neighbourhood of Bushwick
On Saturday night she will be making history with Taylor eight miles north of her home town
The pair are set to meet in the first ever female headline bout at Madison Square Garden
‘The only boxing match I remember was the Trinidad Oscar De La Hoya fight [in 1999] because my parents had a party at the house, but I didn’t watch it. I was outside playing.’
It wasn’t until Serrano left Bushwick High School at the age of 17 when her full transition into the world of blood, sweat and tears would begin.
After watching Cindy get her pro journey off to a winning start, Amanda decided to follow in her sister’s footsteps and begin training herself, before signing up to the New York Golden Gloves without telling her family.
Though, Serrano’s eagerness to carve out a boxing career of her own did not go down well with Cindy or husband Maldonado. In a ploy to dissuade her from taking up the sport, Maldonado chucked Cindy into the ring with her teenage sibling and hoped the beating would drive her away.
‘He had my sister beat me up to discourage me from going into the sport,’ Amanda recalled. ‘But she couldn’t beat me up. I kept on coming back. I was actually ready for it.’
A post shared by Amanda Serrano (@serranosisters)
A post shared by Amanda Serrano (@serranosisters)
Cindy’s husband Jordan Maldonado, who owned his own boxing gym, was impressed by a sparring session between the two sisters and took Amanda under his wing
Serrano had passed her boxing probation with flying colours and Maldonado liked what he saw, taking the younger sister under his wing and guiding her through 10 amateur bouts, winning nine and losing one.
And when she put pen to paper on professional terms at the age of 20, the rest was history.
Having enjoyed a short-lived amateur career there were understandably some early bumps on Serrano’s journey to boxing greatness. Her fifth outing against Ela Nunez ended in a split-decision draw in November 2009, yet she would go on to prevail in every one of their subsequent three rematches.
It only took 13 steps of her professional path to stumble upon a world title. At New York’s Aviator Sports Complex on 10 September 2011, Serrano stopped Kimberly Connor inside two rounds to collect the vacant IBF super-featherweight crown.
Her unbeaten record was then breached in the 16th, with Sweden’s Frida Wallberg delivering Serrano’s first defeat at the end of 10 gruelling rounds for the WBC super-featherweight strap in April 2012.
After winning her first world title in 13 fights, Serrano has gone on to win them in six more weight classes
‘I gave it my all,’ she said afterwards. ‘I know I landed some good shots in the fight and I’m not ashamed of my performance. Frida Wallberg is a great fighter and I take nothing away from her victory. I’m going to bounce back from this bump in the road and work my way back to the top.
‘I want to thank all my fans who’ve been there for me and I promise I’ll be back.’
A decade on, that humbling against Wallberg remains the sole defeat on Serrano’s illustrious fight CV. In the 10 years and 28 bouts which have followed, her hand has been raised on every single occasion, with more world championships coming at light-featherweight, featherweight, lightweight, light-bantamweight, bantamweight and light-welterweight – ranging from 118lbs to 140lbs.
Explaining her remarkable fluctuation in weight, Serrano said: ‘We female fighters have to jump around [weight classes] because we don’t get as many opportunities for fights or world titles. Wherever I get one I go.’
As a seven-weight world champion with 42 victories on her record, there is little more for Serrano, the Nuyorican with no boxing interest as a kid, to achieve in the sport.
This weekend represents her greatest challenge and career-defining moment as she gears up for an iconic showdown with Taylor, whom she has been on a collision course with for years on end, at Madison Square Garden. And thanks to promoter Jake Paul, she is set to collect a seven-figure payday for her troubles.
This weekend represents her greatest challenge and career-defining moment against Taylor
But whatever happens in the Big Apple, Serrano has already etched her name into history
Given her knockout percentage is more than double that of Taylor’s (71 per cent compared to 30 per cent), and her opponent is considered to be on the very slightest of declines at the age of 35, Serrano heads into Saturday’s clash as a marginal favourite with bookmakers, fans and experts alike.
If she prevails in the Big Apple, the ‘Real Deal’ could ride off into the sunset with a mega purse banked and her boxing legacy secured, before perhaps reviving her MMA career – a sport she has previously tried her hand in amid a lack of enticing boxing opponents.
Whatever route she decides to go down when her date of destiny with Taylor is complete, Amanda has already ensured the Serrano name is etched deep into women’s boxing folklore.
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