Katie Taylor defeated Amanda Serrano on points with a split-decision win in an instant classic at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
The Irish woman retained her undisputed lightweight title in a fight packed with action, heart and excellence.
Two of the three judges saw it for Taylor in a fight that lived up to every prediction and every hope.
Taylor got the verdict on two cards, with 97-93 and 96-93 margins, with one judge scoring it 96-94 for Serrano.
‘Look what we just did’
It was the first time two women have starred in the famous venue and after the first fight broke all expectations, an even bigger rematch is certainly in the works, with Dublin’s Croke Park being mentioned as a possible venue.
“Absolutely. We have to do this again,” Taylor said after the result.
“It was an absolute war for 10 rounds. I’m grateful to be in this position and sell out Madison Square Garden. Look what we just did.
“I said before that when you think of Madison Square Garden, you think of Muhammad Ali v Joe Frazier, but now everyone will think of Katie Taylor v Amanda Serrano. I knew I had to dig deep and get to the trenches.
“I have both the heart and the skill. I knew I could make it.
“She’s a phenomenal fighter. A great, great person. It was a privilege to fight with her again.”
On such a groundbreaking night for women’s boxing, two of their greatest servants delivered. Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn may be talking big game, but he never imagined selling Madison Square Garden, 19,187 tickets to be exact, with Taylor.
The build-up was dominated by the significance of the event, but Taylor and Serrano’s performances captured the purest factor of women’s boxing’s incredible rise. It’s the fighters’ talent and Taylor’s unwavering determination that has lifted women’s boxing from the shadows into the limelight.
A total brawl
The fight quickly took shape in the opening four rounds, with Serrano the aggressor left-handed and Taylor trying to counterat speed.
Serrano would come closer and fire big shots, with Taylor happy to let the challenger come at her, reverting to her famous ability to respond with volume in the blink of an eye.
Taylor’s dangerous strategy seemed to work as she landed some clean shots, but then came the fifth round.
Serrano cornered Taylor against the ropes and fired crushing shots, bonding to Taylor’s head and drawing blood. As the umpire watched closely, an unsteady Taylor pushed forward in response and managed to get the fight out of the corner.
Taylor may have been swinging, but for the second time in her stellar career, she seemed one blow away from hitting the deck. The first time was at the same venue against Delphine Persoon in 2019, when Taylor was lucky enough to keep her titles. Three years later, Taylor was again unstable on the MSG canvas, but did a brilliant job of surviving the rounds.
She got more fire in the fifth round, though, as Serrano was able to plant her feet when needed, and Taylor repeatedly hurt with heavy hooks. Again, the Irish resisted the attack and appeared to find her feet in the seventh.
Taylor was able to control the fight in the middle of the ring if she kept moving and in the end it seemed as if Serrano took her foot off the gas. After her slowest lap, Serrano came out again in eighth, eager to recover.
Serrano backed Taylor into a corner post, but this time the defending champion turned away from danger and learned her lesson from previous exchanges.
Taylor still had to hurt Serrano in the last two laps, but that would soon change. In the ninth round, Taylor managed to take some sort of control, but it was short-lived. The final lap was a scintillating affair of back and forth. Serrano sometimes swung from the hips while Taylor responded with painful counters.
There was blood on Serrano’s face now. But the Puerto Rican refused to step back and so the blows flew from all directions. The last 10 seconds were a remarkable feat of strength and cardio from the two women.
Taylor had hurt Serrano, but was then cracked by a powerful shot. Both women were unsteady on their feet, but waved when the last bell rang.
The tension was almost indescribable as both sets of teams stood in the middle of the ring waiting to hear the results. Taylor was lucky enough to keep her titles three years ago and it was another nervous wait under the bright lights of MSG.
Taylor managed to beat it in a fight that was actually very close and Serrano’s victory could have slipped away at the moments when she slowed down.
Opinion will be divided on who won the fight and the debate will likely continue until the two champions step back into the ring.
Deafening noise on a night like no other at Madison Square Garden
Boxing has seen many nights like this, but never for two female headliners. Inside MSG, the sound was deafening. “The Fields of Athenry” sounded just before the hunters made their ring walk.
The Puerto Rican fans were unbeatable, giving a powerful rendition of their national anthem before it was the turn of the Irish to sing theirs.
It was difficult to pick a winner from the two sets of supporters, even if there was one in the ring at the end of the ring. The support was feverish, loud and constant. Serrano’s entrance is brimming with emotion for a fighter who has spent most of his career in the cold.
The seven-time champion grinned from ear to ear as she walked, accompanied only by her promoter Jake Paul.
Taylor, who was normally so eager to race into the ring, took in every moment of her entry. Her promoter Eddie Hearn, trainer Ross Enamait and her right-hand man Brian Peters followed. Enamait, who has coached Taylor throughout her professional career, is so often a demure man, but couldn’t help but beam when his fighter took one last look.
David Diamante’s introduction to both women was greeted with effusive applause. With 19,187 men and women in the arena, every blow was hailed as the knockout blow. The sound rose and fell, but never dropped below deafening levels.
The wall of noise was as relentless as the action in the ring. Who wants to watch women’s boxing? Everyone, it seems.