American female boxers finally get their moment in the sun and America is watching.
When Amanda Serrano (30-1-1, 23 Kos) meets Mexico’s Yazmin Rivas (35-9-1, 10 Kos) in the boxing ring on Saturday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, it marks the very first time in decades that a major network like Showtime televises and promotes a female fight.
The moment that Serrano steps into the ring is a moment that some believed would never arrive. Generations of talented female prizefighters had come and gone as television ignored boxing and favored MMA.
Outside of Christy Martin and Laila Ali, others like Bridgett “Baby Doll” Riley, Lucia Rijker, Mary Jo Sanders, Wendy Rodriguez, Jennifer Alcorn, Mia St. John and Elena “Baby Doll” Reid gave their heart and soul to the game with nary a notice. Though some of these women were televised once or twice, their fights were never promoted by any television network.
Now, Serrano has bludgeoned her way to the bright lights with speed, accuracy and pure punching power rarely seen in the female ranks. The southpaw from Brooklyn packs a punch in both hands. She comes along at the perfect moment.
Other female boxers from coast to coast will be glued to their television screens.
“It’s a big step for women’s boxing,” said Amaris “Diamond Girl” Quintana a light flyweight champion from San Diego, Calif. “I’m proud to be a part of that and see women finally get the respect we deserve in this sport.”
Quintana is a feisty light flyweight who willingly crossed the border on numerous occasions to secure a fight. Despite the danger of losing to bias judging, she was always willing. It’s a trait very common with American girls. They will and have traveled to other countries without hesitation.
Melinda Cooper is another who never hesitated in accepting a fight in other countries. The bantamweight from Las Vegas, Nevada has fought in France, Costa Rica and Mexico with little regard for nationalistic favoritism or weight class.
Cooper eagerly waits to see the fight on television.
“I think it’s amazing they are finally televising female fights on Showtime,” said Cooper who once in 2008 was televised by ESPN in defeating Donna Biggers.
The few promoters of female boxing who have spent years trying to push for the sport are also eager to see the doors finally swing open.
“I’m waiting to get a phone call so that our girls can be seen too,” said Al Applerose CFO for California-based Arqangel Promotions that advises Cooper, Quintana and several other female boxers. “Female boxing is one of the great secrets. Fans are going to be addicted to it. The girls give a better show than the guys most of the time.”
Elena Reid, a two-time flyweight world champion now retired, said that she feels boxing lost many females to MMA but could see a swing back to the sport of boxing. She also said this is the third step toward the doors bursting open.
“It really started with Heather Hardy’s fight, then the Claressa (Shields) fight,” said Reid about the how Hardy’s fight with Shelly Vincent in August, followed by Claressa Shield’s debut in November setting the stage for this Showtime fight.
Reid, who co-hosts a female boxing radio/podcast called 2-Minute Round, said it finally feels like things are clicking for female prizefighting.
“This fight has momentum behind it with interest in the success of featured female fighters,” said Reid, 35, who retired in 2010. “It also has the momentum that the Serrano sister and their team have created. I hope to see the momentum continue.”
Serrano who is Puerto Rican descent has one thing on her mind:
“When I’m in the ring I don’t pay attention to the fans,” said Serrano. “It feels great to be in this position. It’s an honor. Having this spotlight is an amazing thing. I’m coming to show off. I’m not going to disappoint anybody, especially the women in this sport. I’m going to show that we need to be here.”
The Serrano/Rivas fight will be televised on Showtime Extreme at 7 p.m. ET/PT.