Katie Taylor retained her undisputed lightweight world title with a razor-thin split decision win over Amanda Serrano at Madison Square Garden last night.
The iconic duo became the first women to headline a boxing event at the famous New York arena, and earned millions for their undisputed title fight. Much of the pre-fight build-up centred around the friendly rivalry between promoters Jake Paul and Eddie Hearn, but by bell time, all eyes were on the women of the moment.
They subsequently played out a tremendous ten-round contest which had the capacity crowd enthralled, and seemingly set up a major-money rematch of this back-and-forth brawl.
A series of major stars from the worlds of sports and entertainment were in attendance, including boxer Ryan Garcia, legendary MMA champion Cris Cyborg and YouTuber-turned-boxer Alex Wassabi. Paul joined the commentary team for the evening, while Hearn stayed in his usual position as promoter.
The raucous crowd appeared to sway in favour of the Irish legend, but a large portion of Puerto Rican fans were in attendance to create an electric atmosphere. Walked to the ring by Paul, Serrano and co appeared to embrace the support and the jeers.
From the bell, Serrano was as aggressive as promised. Taylor manoeuvred the ring well, avoiding major shots from the challenger, who is one of the most feared punchers in the women's game.
In the second round, the Puerto Rican continued her onslaught, having a bit more success than the first, where Taylor was able to counter with the left hook on a number of occasions. Both women had upped the ante by the third and had to be separated after Serrano was pushed into the ropes.
The rounds were tight early, with Serrano perhaps edging the early exchanges with her late attacks in the round. Serrano's controversial and outspoken brother-in-law and co-manager Jordan Moldanado did his best to taunt the Irish fans, but focus couldn't be drawn from the tow multiple-time world champions.
Serrano had called for 12 rounds of three minutes before the event, and as things began to heat up one was left wondering if perhaps they were necessary. Taylor's slip right-hand counter caught Serrano in the middle of the fourth.
Understanding she may be down on the scorecards by the fifth, Serrano began to push the pace further, unloading on Katie in the corner, and ultimately wobbling her in a dominant round heading into halfway.
The Irish woman was badly hurt coming into the sixth, and Serrano took full advantage, punishing the champion with damaging combinations. Never down as a professional, Taylor managed to survive the gruesome onslaught, which saw Serrano bloody her nose and throw well over 120 punches in just six rounds.
Taylor appeared to have regained her footing by the seventh, and wasn't subject to the same volume of abuse she had suffered in the previous four minutes. And by round eight, she was back into her stride, connecting a lot more with Serrano as the seven-weight world champion began to slow.
There had been concerns about the challenger's ability to bulk up to Taylor's weight in a sustainable way, and she appeared to be struggle as they headed into the championship rounds. Ever the aggressor, Serrano became much more susceptible to Taylor's counter-punches, and the pair both headed into the tenth knowing they weren't out of the woods.
With seconds to go in the tenth, it was anyone's fight as Serrano sported a bloodied eye to match Taylor's nose. They went hell for leather in the closing seconds, but neither was able to score the all-important fight clinching knockdown. Two of the judges gave Taylor the nod by scores of 97-93 and 96-93 to ensure the belts will be flown back to Ireland. Serrano was awarded the fight 96-94 by the third judge.
In the co-main event, Liam Smith stopped Jessie Vargas to earn his second win on the bounce, and likely set up a title opportunity for himself down the line. The former world champions fought like they were in a phone booth for most of the night, with Smith's size ultimately earning him the victory.
What's next for Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
Earlier, Franchon Crews-Dezurn became the undisputed super middleweight champion with a bruising win over Elin Cederroos. The Swede's nose was busted open early, but she fought through the gruesome injury to take her American counterpart the distance.
Prior to that, British Olympic gold medalist Galal Yafai brutalised Miguel Cartagena to stop him within two rounds and go 2-0 as a professional. He has raced into championship contention since making the switch to the paid ranks, and showed his class over a game American opponent who hadn't lost since 2019.
Reshat Mati was made to work for a victory that, skill-for-skill should have been an easy enough night at the office against Joe Eli Hernandez. The nerves of fighting in his dream venue, coupled with competing in front of a near empty arena with his fan-friendly style appeared to overwhelm the New York native, who dominated his opponent but couldn't get rid of him.
Khalil Coe comfortably beat William Langston to go 3-0-1, while the star performance of the undercard was likely Austin 'Ammo' Williams explosive round one stoppage of the unbeaten Chordale Booker.
Skye Nicolson rounded out the card, with the Australian going 3-0 as a professional in her third fight in just 57 days. She landed the first knockdown of her career on route to an easy win over Shanecqua Paisley Davis.
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