Katie Taylor: All Roads Lead to Serrano

By Boxing News - 11/22/2021 - Comments

By Ian Aldous: It’s been a journey of epic proportions for one of Ireland’s greatest sportswomen so far, and it’s not over yet. Since taking up pugilism in 1998, Katie Taylor has written her name in Irish sporting history as one of their most successful ever, and all the while proudly being a pioneer and trailblazer of women’s boxing.

An amateur career consisting of five consecutive world championship golds and countless European titles, as well as the ultimate unpaid accomplishment – Olympic gold in 2012. She lost a few, but not many, and made the decision to turn pro in 2016, following a surprisingly early exit at the 2016 Olympic Games.

Fast-forward to the winter of 2021, and the 35-year-old stands atop the professional ranks having, mostly with ease, cleaned out the lightweight division. Possessing a 19-0 record and The Ring, WBA, WBC, WBO & IBF 130-pound crowns, firmly establishes Taylor as the queen of that weight class. Just the IBO world title, held by Estelle Yoka Mossely (who actually holds a win over Taylor as an amateur), eludes her.

The proud Irishwoman from Bray, a coastal town south of Dublin, even stepped up to 140-pounds in 2019 and claimed a portion of the world title, such has been her dominance.

Her lineage as a pro to date has appeared so effortless at times that many bouts became a little predictable – you just expected her to win, fight after fight. And that’s exactly what she did. Even the current undisputed welterweight queen, Jessica McCaskill, was despatched with relative ease.

Her dominance was almost halted in 2019. Highly-respected Belgian Delfine Persoon took Taylor to the limit in their classic encounter at Madison Square Garden. Taylor secured the disputed decision and added Persoon’s WBC strap to her collection of belts. They met again in the summer of 2020, swapping Madison Square Garden for Eddie Hearn’s back garden. Taylor won again in a rematch that was as enjoyable to view as the original.

Every great fighter needs at least one great dance partner, and Taylor had found hers. The excitement and competitive thrill of both bouts helped fans re-engage with the lightweight champion. Just a year later, she discovered another worthy opponent, in the unlikely form of super-featherweight Natasha Jonas. The pair waged a ten-round war and were only split by one point on two scorecards and two points on the other. Once again, Taylor prevailed, as the great champions always do. The clash was sandwiched by two utterly dominant displays against Miriam Gutierrez and Jennifer Han.

Up next, on December 11th in Liverpool, awaits another challenger who is unlikely to cause so much as a slight annoyance to Taylor’s long reign as lightweight champion. Firuza Sharipova is somehow the WBA’s mandatory challenger despite her last three victories coming versus a debutante, a 7-7 journeywoman, and a fighter without a single win.

Should Taylor win and move to 20-0, one fighter and one fighter only will hopefully await. A fighter that a win against would be a bonafide legacy definer.

That woman is Amanda Serrano. The seven-division world champion from Puerto Rico is the fight that must be made, and their paths came mouth-wateringly close to meeting last year.

Image: Katie Taylor: All Roads Lead to Serrano

The battle between two of the female fight game’s very best was scheduled multiple times during the early part of the pandemic. On each occasion, the fight fell through with some bitterness appearing to linger due to the time and money spent on preparing for each fight being wasted. But the fights looks to be back on track.

“That fight is definitely on my radar,” Serrano revealed to me in an interview in March. “I definitely still want to have that fight with Katie Taylor. She’s one of the best, and I would love nothing more than to share the ring with Katie Taylor.”

At that time, she yearned to become the top dog at featherweight and held the IBO, WBC & WBO titles, yet still had one eye on Katie Taylor.

“When I become undisputed champion, then it’ll be seven-division world champion & undisputed champion vs. undisputed champion, Katie Taylor.”

However, her priorities have changed under the new promotional team of Jake Paul’s Most Valuable Promotions. Thankfully, she’s finally getting the attention and spotlight that her talent warrants on Paul’s undercards.

On December 18th, Serrano battles Miriam Gutierrez at lightweight on the Jake Paul vs. Tommy Fury undercard. Serrano will attempt to make a significant statement by stopping the Spaniard who went the distance with Taylor last year.

More positive talk of the mega-fight surfaced when Eddie Hearn spoke to Chris Mannix on his podcast.

“They appear to wanna make that fight – so do we,” Hearn explained. “We’ve already spoken to The Garden about doing that fight in April. DAZN approves of that fight in abundance. I think we can do it.”

Not only that, but Matchroom Boxing’s boss wants to stage the fight inside MSG itself, not the smaller Hulu Theater that stages smaller events within The Garden.

“You know, because if we wanna put women’s boxing at the forefront, and we wanna make a statement, you don’t make a statement by going in a small hall. You make a statement going in the big hall. And if it catches fire, if people understand it, if people buy into the hype, which doesn’t even need to be there, I think it can capture the imagination [of the public]. And I think it can fill it up.”

Retirement isn’t likely to be far off for Taylor. After all, she’s achieved so much in a sport she’s participated in at the very highest level for around fifteen years. Beating Amanda Serrano will cement a legacy that already includes a plethora of medals and championship belts.