Some of the most memorable and compelling fights in boxing history have taken place between champions with opposing personalities and opposing styles. Well, the undisputed lightweight title clash between Ireland’s self-effacing and quick-fisted champion Katie Taylor and Puerto Rico’s self-assured and power-punching challenger Amanda Serrano followed that very narrative and ignited into the pure flame.
This classic battle is now officially The Sporting News Fight of the Year.
On April 30, 2022, Taylor (20-0, 6 KOs) entered the Madison Square Garden ring with the cold eyes of an assassin. A former amateur sensation, and a global pioneer for women’s boxing, the 35-year-old had already reached the summit of the sport with popular recognition as the finest female fighter in the world. She would be defending IBF, WBA, WBC, WBO, and Ring Magazine 135-pound championships for the sixth time.
Serrano (42-1-1, 30 KOs) walked to the ring with a smile from ear to ear, and for good reason. A professional since 2009, she’d claimed world championships in a remarkable seven weight divisions, but the acclaim and – more importantly for a prize fighter – the money was not forthcoming. Now, at 34 years old, Serrano was in her first authentic super fight with a seven-figure payday guaranteed.
Both women earned their money.
Following a nip-and-tuck start, the savagery of the action in Round 5 almost blew the lid off the MSG arena. Serrano broke through with a pulverising body assault and when she switched upstairs, a series of brutal power shots burst Taylor’s nose across her face. At the end of the worst two minutes of her professional career, the champion, who had stood between rounds to that point, wobbled back to her corner and flopped onto her stool with a vacant expression on her face.
Surely, this fight was over?
An energised Serrano bossed the sixth, but inexplicably dropped the pace from then on. The last thing you should give a well-conditioned warrior like Taylor is time and distance, and that’s exactly what she was granted. Roared on by a huge Irish contingent, the champion began to bank rounds with steady movement and machinegun bursts. Serrano pursued, but she wasn’t punching nearly enough.
Both women displayed their formidable skills in the 10th and final round, with Taylor landing some of her best punches of the fight in the closing seconds.
As expected, the cards were close and opinions varied on the result. One judge scored the bout 96-94 in favour of Serrano but was overruled by tallies of 97-93 and 96-93 for Taylor.
MORE: Katie Taylor set to fight in front of 80,000 fans in 2023
“I had to dig deep in there tonight,” acknowledged the winner during the post-fight press conference. “I had to produce a career-defining performance to win. What an amazing champion Amanda is; a phenomenal fighter, and we definitely got the best out of each other.
“Everyone was talking about it being the biggest fight in women’s boxing history, but [tonight] we seen what everyone was talking about. It was just a special, special moment. I wasn’t sure if anything could ever equal my Olympic gold medal moment, but tonight was absolutely the best moment of my career.”
This scintillating showdown fought off fierce competition from Jermell Charlo KO 10 Brian Castaño, Leigh Wood KO 12 Michael Conlan, Sebastian Fundora TKO 9 Erickson Lubin, and Joe Joyce KO 11 Joseph Parker to claim the Fight of the Year award. Not so long ago, if you’d suggested that a women’s boxing match could receive such an accolade, you’d have been mocked for it. Taylor vs. Serrano has not been voted the best women’s Fight of the Year, it’s been voted the best Fight of the Year — period.
And the great news for fight fans is that we look set for a sequel at Croke Park in Dublin next spring.
Get Best News and Web Services here