Amanda Serrano Guns for a Fifth World Title in Fifth Weight Class
By David A. Avila
A few years ago women’s boxing was hidden in the shadows as female MMA took the much brighter center stage though only in existence for a couple decades.
More than a few claimed women’s boxing in the United States would never amount to anything and that no one existed to carry the sport forward.
Well, a star has been born and her name is Amanda Serrano. She’s from Brooklyn, New York.
Serrano (32-1-1, 23 Kos) meets Dominican Republic’s Dahiana Santana (35-8, 14 KOs) for the vacant WBO bantamweight title on Saturday April 22. The Barclays Center will host Serrano’s attempt at a fifth world title in five weight divisions. DiBella Entertainment is the promoter.
It will be televised by Showtime.
Women’s boxing took a back seat to women’s MMA for a decade. The reason was simple: television was nonexistent for female boxers in the U.S.
While female boxers dominate the airwaves over men in Mexico, Argentina and Germany, here in the U.S. where many of the top female boxers in the world live, no television network seemed interested.
That ended this year when Serrano’s fight against Mexico’s Yazmin Rivas was streamed live by Showtime. That fight was followed by another televised female fight as Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields knocked out Hungary’s Szilvia Szabados.
Television was waiting for the right moment and found two stars. Now the door is open.
“We liked what we saw in Amanda Serrano,” said Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza earlier in the year. “She has knockout power and a crowd pleasing style.”
Power is something the Puerto Rican has always possessed.
“Even when she was an amateur she could crack,” said Jordan Maldonado who trains Amanda Serrano and her sister Cindy Serrano who holds the WBO featherweight title.
The Brooklyn-based Serrano was not ever protected.
Power Never Sleeps
While many boxers carefully select their opponents and avoid others and fight in their hometowns, Serrano and her team were like gunslingers for hire willing to go anywhere at the right price.
“Amanda is a real fighter,” said Layla McCarter, the number one ranked welterweight and a fan of Serrano. “She’s willing to travel to other countries to fight their best.”
Since 2009 Serrano has traveled to Argentina, Dominican Republic, Sweden, and other parts of the U.S. She’s always confident that her power will be the equalizer against biased judges. Her power seldom fails.
Only once has she tasted defeat and that took place in Sweden five years ago. Since then Serrano has rumbled through 17 consecutive opponents. Only two heard the final bell.
After beginning her pro career as a featherweight she won her first world title as a 130-pound super featherweight in 2011 with a crackling second round knockout. That was title number one.
Other world titles from the UBF and WIBA were captured but against stay-busy opponents in the Dominican Republic.
In 2014 she upped the ante and with the WBO lightweight world title as the prize Serrano traveled to South America where she undoubtedly needed a knockout to win in a hostile environment. The always sizzling Puerto Rican broke down Maria Maderna in the sixth round. Now she had world titles as a super featherweight and a lightweight.
Her trainer Maldonado says she strives to make a statement as a fighter and was determined to win world titles in yet another weight division. She loves challenges.
A year ago, in February 2016, Serrano dropped down to featherweight again and fought Canada’s Olivia Gerula for the WBO featherweight title. The left-handed Serrano eliminated the veteran of 35 pro bouts and two world titles in less than a round. That was Serrano’s third world title in three weight divisions.
“I actually train hard for every fight. My diet just gets a little stricter when trying to lose more weight,” Serrano said.
Seeking to make a statement in her native Puerto Rico, she dropped down to the super bantamweight division in search of a fourth world title in four weight divisions. It was a feat only Miguel Cotto had accomplished in Puerto Rican boxing. With the island nation watching, Serrano blasted out Hungary’s Alexandra Lazar in a mere 44 seconds.
“It was such a great feeling,” said Serrano in her second fight on Puerto Rico.
A fifth world title in a fifth weight division is now the goal against Dominican Republic’s Santana, an ex-featherweight world champion with 43 pro bouts of experience and an inch in height advantage.
“I expect to fight the best girls out there. Before it wasn’t possible because they asked for too much money to fight me but with the TV networks interested in me the budget is bigger so I’ll get better opponents,” said Serrano on Sunday. “As for Dahiana Santana she’s accomplished a lot coming from the Dominican Republic, but her luck ran out on this one. She’s not leaving with this title. She’ll have to settle for a good payday and an ass whooping.”
It’s another step toward star power for women’s boxing.
(Photo by JP Yim)