How majestic Amanda Serrano inspired fairytale land for women’s boxing

Unified women’s featherweight champion Amanda Serrano (Getty Images)
Unified women’s featherweight champion Amanda Serrano (Getty Images)

In the grand ring of kings, the very best queens of the boxing game will take away the glorious prizes on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Amanda Serrano and Alycia Baumgardner have already placed their names on the list of modern fighting greats in the swirling business of female boxing.

They are part of the caravan of fighters who started out boxing for peanuts, anonymous fights and struggling to get cash and recognition; on Saturday in the basement at the Garden, in the sacred venue once called the Felt Forum, they each fight for all four of the modern world title belts.

Serrano made a million dollars last year when she fought to a standstill with Katie Taylor in front of nearly 20,000 upstairs in the Garden’s big room; if she wins on Saturday, she gets Taylor in Dublin again and a million dollars again.

Baumgardner transformed her life with just one punch in 2021 in Sheffield against Terri Harper; she won the WBC title, has defended it and added to it and is now just one win and a few pounds away from being in the company of the millionaire sluggers.

Baumgardner one day wants to gain a few pounds, switch from super-featherweight to lightweight and see if Taylor is still fighting. She also plans to move through the weights to welterweight. It is, without doubt, the greatest time in history to be a fighting woman.

First, the pair have to win on Saturday and that will not be a simple piece of business. It never is when expectation combines with dreams in the boxing world.

Serrano is now 34, a lifelong fighting addict, a veteran of 46 fights and a winner of world titles at seven different weights. She will enter the old ring with three super-featherweight belts and Mexico’s Erika Cruz Hernandez will enter with her own, the WBA versions. Cruz will also enter with a bit of anger simmering and a growing sense that she is being overlooked.

Amanda Serrano overcame Sarah Mahfoud in a featherweight title fight last time out (Getty Images)
Amanda Serrano overcame Sarah Mahfoud in a featherweight title fight last time out (Getty Images)

Since the news of the Taylor vs Serrano rematch leaked, the fight on Saturday has been hijacked in many ways and Serrano held to ransom by the talk of others. Cruz is rightly annoyed that she, in her opinion, has been ignored, reduced to opponent and not champion. Serrano denies this, I believe her and she is desperate not to look beyond the very real dangers lurking in Cruz’s fists. There is a cruel history in boxing of big fights falling through when a boxer gazes too hard at that fanciful future.

Baumgardner owns three titles, the WBA have thrown in their version to make it four and in the opposite corner, France’s Elhem Mekhaled has the opportunity to ruin all dreams. And that is what underdogs do on big nights when there is no pressure. And she has no pressure on Saturday night.

Last April, when Taylor triumphed upstairs at the Garden, there was a real sense of a shift in history and Saturday night feels the same. It is not an exclusively female card, but there are five female fights in total. There is no talk here of a niche audience, no idle chat about mystical fighters from the seventies in a fake land of make believe; this is the fairytale land right now.

The ancient New York warriors like Jackie Tonawanda, known as the female Ali, and Lady Tyger Trimiar were fabulous novelty acts, pioneers. Baumgardner and Serrano are made different to the members of the fighting sisterhood from the seventies and eighties. The modern pair have developed from boxing poverty to wilder riches than any women have ever gained in the ring. They are making dream money. They move alongside a tiny group at present, sharing the spoils and wealth with Taylor, who will be ringside, Claressa Shields, Savannah Marshall, Mikaela Mayer, Chantelle Cameron and Natasha Jonas.

Alycia Baumgardner overcame Mikaela Mayer last time out (Getty Images)
Alycia Baumgardner overcame Mikaela Mayer last time out (Getty Images)

However, it is not just the money, it is the memorable fights they are creating. Mayer vs Baumgardner last year at a sold-out O2 was a fight of the year contender in any decade in any gender. Taylor vs Serrano was a punch behind and was arguably the boxing event of the year. These are not token awards, they are deserved accolades for brilliance and sacrifice.

All the woman on Saturday will be walking in more than the footsteps of the greatest fighters of all time when they enter the Garden ring, they will be nodding at the pioneers and making their own fabulous history.

Fights exclusively available on DAZN