Katie Taylor remained the undisputed lightweight champion in a thrilling first women’s boxing match that headlined at Madison Square Garden, beating Amanda Serrano in a split decision Saturday night.
Both fighters were cut because they fit into plenty of powerful exchanges during the two-minute rounds—one shorter than men’s. In the end, Taylor did just that little bit more to remain undefeated in front of an announced sold-out crowd of 19,187 that seemed split between Taylor’s Irish and Serrano’s Puerto Rican fans.
After the fighters exchanged punches in a 10th and final round brawl, Taylor emerged with scores of 96-93 and 97-93 on two of the judges cards, while Serrano won the other 96-94.
The Associated Press scored it 96-94 for Taylor.
Taylor (21-0) was wobbling and her face bloodied in the fifth round, but she hung strong and found the reach on her right hand with excellent counter punches.
Serrano (42-2-1), a seven-division champion living in New York, lost for the first time since 2012.
A fight touted by organizers as the most important ever in women’s boxing can certainly take its place among the best, the two longtime champions making the crowd stand and scream frantically as they fired powerful punches that lasted almost the entire 10th seemed to last.
Taylor defended her four titles for the sixth time, having become the undisputed champion at 135 pounds since a 2019 Madison Square Garden win over the undercard of Andy Ruiz’s upset of Anthony Joshua in a heavyweight title bout.
The 2012 Olympic gold medalist was the main event this time around and the fans seemed to be enjoying every minute of it.
The organizers had planned a seating capacity of approximately 10,000, but had to make more available when all of those were sold, eventually opening the arena completely. The arena and surrounding area had the feel of an Olympics, with fans carrying Puerto Rican and Irish flags, greenery visible all over the arena and chants erupting all night.
Serrano danced around the ring with her arms up after she walked in with Jake Paul, the former YouTube star who quickly raised her profile and salary scale when he started promoting her and had her fight on his undercards.
Left-handed Serrano kept coming forward and finding some openings to her left wing, but Taylor countered well and landed some good rights in the third – although he did get a good shot after it was over when the fighters and umpire didn’t hear the bell over the crowd and Serrano landed a blow.
Taylor came right back and drove Serrano back into a corner in the closing seconds of the fourth and the fight continued in the same vein, Serrano throwing fast combinations but Taylor landed in return to stop her momentum. †
The crowd roared as they exchanged punches during a long corner exchange in the fifth, but Serrano got the upper hand and Taylor’s face was bloodied by the end of the round. But she came right back with a good job in the sixth.
The women’s super middleweight division now also has an undisputed champion after Franchón Crews-Dezurn fought bloody and defeated Sweden’s Elin Cederroos by unanimous decision. Crews-Dezurn (8-1) added the IBF and WBA titles to the two she already owned by giving Cederroos (8-1) her first loss.
Next, former 154lb champion Liam Smith (31-3-1 18 KOs) carried Jesse Vargas (29-4-2) before stopping him in the 10th round.