The Future of Amanda Serrano
If anybody in female boxing can be riding a high its WBO super bantamweight champion Amanda Serrano (31-1-1, 23KO) of New York and her manager/trainer Jordan Maldonado.
After a very successful 2016 where she fought four times, captured her third and fourth world titles and won every one of her fights by brutal knockouts, Serrano defended her title against the tough Yazmin “Rusita” Rivas (35-10-1, 10KO) of Mexico on Showtime Extreme, the first female world titles broadcast on the network in years.
Serrano knew Rivas was not going to be any pushover.
“She was a tough girl. She has been 10 rounds over 20 times so I knew she was durable,” Serrano said in an exclusive interview with the 2-Min Rd podcast hosted by journalist David Avila, former fighter Elena “Baby Doll” Reid and this author. “I knew she was going to be able to hang in there. She has never been knocked out, never been down. We knew we were ready for the 10 rounds. Actually in the last round after watching the fight a couple of times I thought if I would have done a couple of more rounds like that I think I could have had her. Never the less I am glad we went the 10 rounds, I needed the 10 rounds. I am that type of fighter now, I am a championship fighter. I am glad we went the 10 rounds and it was a good 10 rounds.”
Although Serrano has knocked out four out of her last five opponents, according to her trainer Jordan Maldonado, the strategy was to be ready for anything that came their way including going the distance.
“Basically the plan is always to go in there and end the fight whenever possible. Amanda trains every single fight for a 10 rounder or an eight rounder or whatever the fight is, that is what we train. We train to go the distance but we don’t want to go the distance. The plan was to use our basic tactic which is go in there, go hard, hit her with hard punches but Rivas is a durable fighter, Rivas is a Mexican and Mexicans are notorious for being ready for war. Amanda hurt her hand somewhere in the third round. It was a little too early to send her out to go to war. It was kind of easier when we boxed her. It showed Yazmin Rivas is a very, very tough fighter but like many Mexican tough fighters, no disrespect, but very limited. They are brawlers. They are not too sharp with the boxing skills and that was exactly the case with Rivas. She was very tough and durable on the inside but when Amanda would box her from the outside, she was out of range; she did not know how to cut the distance. Her punches were missing so it did two things for us, it showed everybody Amanda can box, not only brawl, and it exposed Yazmin so if anybody wants to fight Yazmin Rivas, you don’t want to fight her toe-to-toe.”
The action lived inside the ring from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on the undercard of the Badou Jack vs James DeGale draw, picked up a number of fans including the president of Showtime Sports Stephen Espinoza and quite possibly the pound for pound king of the current era.
“He congratulated me and he told me I didn’t have to make it that exciting, he told me I could have ducked some punches,” Serrano said giggling of what Espinoza told her after the fight. “He has seen me fight before so he knows I took a lot of punches in this fight. He loved it and he even said (Floyd) Mayweather even came out to actually see the fight. He couldn’t see the whole thing, he had to get up and go somewhere but that alone is a compliment for him to take his time out to come out and watch my fight. I really hoped he enjoyed it. I hope he saw our skill set and that we are able to hang with the men. Espinoza seemed really excited and I hope he continues to put female fights on Showtime. I hope more females get to showcase their talent as well.”
Despite her great performance and the fact she is signed to DiBella Entertainment, a promoter who not only has Serrano under contract but her sister as well Cindy Serrano the WBO featherweight champion, and Heather Hardy among others, it is not guaranteed her next fight will be on such a large stage. According to reports she collected a career high $15,000 purse for the fight but it garnered more exposure, plus money is available in that other combat sport, MMA.
Serrano would not be the first successful boxer to make the jump from the ring to the cage. Like Elena “Baby Doll” Reid and Holly Holm before her, Serrano is intrigued by what Mixed Martial Arts can offer. So much so she had a kickboxing bout scheduled after the Rivas fight but had to postpone because of her hand injury.
“We were talking about it. It didn’t come out because it was going to be after but I hurt my hand in this fight so I can’t go back to training,” Serrano explained. “In the future I definitely want to do something with that, with the MMA. First with kickboxing so I can have a background in kickboxing, I would have a background in boxing and then eventually go into MMA. Right now boxing is going good, we are getting the opportunities we deserve, it’s not great, but it’s good. I am sticking with this for now. I want to see if it gets there. If it goes off the walls and it makes money and we get the opportunities we deserve. Like I said the year has started off good. I am just concentrating on my boxing career now but in the future if everything goes well then I might switch over to MMA and see where that takes me.”
Seems as if Maldonado is a bit more hesitant in making the jump to the cage, “we contemplated it but truth be told boxing is our passion. That is what we love to do. The only reason we were going to make the conversion because financially it is a better place to be when it comes to making money. The advertisement for their fighters is greater than boxing. In New York unless a card is in the Barclays Center, nobody is getting promoted, no one knows these are cards are going on. With the MMA they do so much advertisement. Now that boxing is getting a little better, we are being optimistic, this year already Claressa Shields, Katie Taylor, Marlen Esparza, got signed. It looks promising. We are supposed to be on the undercard of Manny Pacquiao in Australia so the opportunities are all of sudden from one night to the other; all these doors are starting to open. If that is the case we are going to stick to that.”
Before the jump though both Serrano and Maldonado feel there is some unfinished business for them in boxing including some pretty lofty goals.
“Amanda Serrano is the face of women’s boxing. There is a few girls out there who are really good fighters but they won’t be able to do what we do because the team is amazing,” Maldonado stated. “When it is all said and done Amanda will be the first female fighter to ever win six divisions, there is no one that has done it. We are going for legitimate titles and we emphasize legitimate. There are a lot of women out there who claim to be 10-time or 20-time champions but the truth be told because you are not fighting for legitimate titles. If you are fighting for titles that are not known, the system does not recognize them. There is the GBU, there is the WBF, I don’t mean to discredit any of them, but if you are not winning the major sanctioning bodies, nobody is going to recognize you. We won the WIBA at one time, we won the UBF at one time and when we realized that you are not going to get recognition by winning those titles, we decided to stick with the major organizations.”
The first step towards history is for Serrano to go down to the bantamweight division and capture a title there.
“I would like to drop down to 118 pounds so I can be a five-division champion. Be the first female in the world as well as to be the first Puerto Rican. That would be a great accomplishment,” Serrano shared. I know I will make Puerto Rico proud and make my team proud. To be the first at something that is a great accomplishment. Me and my sister already last year we became the first sisters to be world champion and that was another accomplishment for both of us. That would be pretty much it for the boxing. If I can and go up to 140 and be a six division world champion, who can beat that? One goal at a time but definitively five divisional champion would be my goal.”
So what is the next step? With the momentum created with her breath taking performance this past January, the boxing world seems to be Serrano’s oyster and she and her team are ready to take on the best her division has to offer including perhaps a rematch against Rivas.
“I would love nothing more than to go to Mexico and give Yazmin Rivas a rematch there, she deserves it,” said Maldonado, who also is the sisters’ manager. “My girls have fought in Sweden, France, we fought in Argentina, we travel, we fought in Dominican Republic, it doesn’t matter, we are complete fighters and we don’t shy away from anything. I told her she is deserving of a fight and if her promoter wants to host it in Mexico I would love nothing more and do it there. Right now we are in negotiations to fight Sabrina Perez of Argentina, she is the 118 pound (WBO) champion, there are a few other ones we are trying to get but I also got a call for Amanda to fight in Australia on the undercard of Manny Pacquiao versus Jeff Horn. We are supposed to fight the Australian girl Shannon O’Connell. If that fight goes through, Amanda will be defending her title once more in April on a PPV card. If that doesn’t go through, then we are definitely going down to 118. We are going to fight for the 118 title but we are not going to stay at 118 that is part of the process to continue with our legacy.”
Although Perez and O’Connell are among the best the division has to offer, they are not considered the best. Maldonado, the man with the plan, knows exactly who Amanda Serrano needs to face to not only leave her mark within the sport but to hopefully secure at least in part some of her financial future.
“We have great options, we will fight Jackie Nava if her promoter makes us an offer we will go to Mexico, if she is willing to take an offer that is made from this camp, we also have Marcela Acuña in Argentina,” Maldonado said naming two of the biggest names in female boxing. “She is an incredible fighter; she just had a devastating win just the other night where she knocked out her opponent. We want that fight. Our wish list would be Jackie Nava from Mexico, Marcela Acuña from Argentina, Jelena Mrdjenovich from Canada; those are the girls that will define our legacy. Those are the three best girls in our division. After that there is no one else in the 120’s. Any of these three fights against Amanda Serrano our great fights and any TV network would jump on them. We are open to any of those fights.”