By Mark Eisner: IBF/IBO/WBC/WBO female featherweight champion Amanda Serrano (44-2-1, 30 KOs) defeated WBA champ Erika Cruz (15-2, 3 KOs) by a 10 round unanimous decision to capture the undisputed championship on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Cruz was cut on the scalp from a clash of heads in the first half of the fight, and had to deal with blood pouring down her face for the remainder of the fight.
The scores were 98-92, 98-92 & 97-93.
Cruz appeared to win rounds 1 through five, and she clearly got the better of Serrano in the tenth. In the sixth, Serrano hurt Cruz and flurried on her.
In a tougher-than-expected fight, WBC/IBF/WBO female super featherweight champion Alycia Baumgardner (14-1, 7 KOs) was forced to battle hard to defeat Elhem Mekhaled (15-2, 3 KOs) by a 10 round unanimous decision to capture the WBA belt and become the undisputed champion in their co-feature bout. Baumgardner punched herself out after dropping Mekhaled in the third round. In the seventh, Baumgarder hurt Mekhalded after trapping her against the ropes and unloading a flurry of hurtful punches. However, once again, Baumgardner became winded and was unable to regain her strength for the remainder of the fight. The scores were 99-89, 99-89, and 98-90. You can argue that Mekhaled fought well enough to win rounds 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10. The judge’s scores were way off from the fight inside the ring.
Light welterweight fringe contender Richardson Hitchins (16-0, 7 KOs) easily defeated previously undefeated John Bauza (17-1, 7 KOs) by a one-sided 10 round unanimous decision. The 25-year-old Hitchins dropped Bauza in rounds 1 & 4. The scores were 100-88, 100-88, and 100-88. The referee Charlie Fitch blew the call on the first knockdown, caused by Hitchins cleverly stepping on Bauza’s right foot and punching him simultaneously, causing him to fall. In the fourth, Richardson nailed the 24-year-old Bauza with a left-right combination to the head that sent him down on the canvas. Hitchins used his superior hand speed and long 74″ reach to land frequent straight right hand that Bauza had no defense for. His lack of head movement & reaction time made it easy for Hitchins to land his right hand. In the second the fight, Bauza’s right eye was badly swollen and almost closed. Still kept fighting hard, roughing up Hitchins at every opportunity and loading up on big left hands, which he would land periodically.
In the final ten seconds in the tenth round, Hitchins got on his bike and circled the ring to run out the clock. It wasn’t the ideal way for Hitchins to end the fight because it looked bad, and gave the impression that he didn’t care about trying to entertain the fans. If Hitchins wants to become a star, he’s got to be able to shift out of first gear because he was fighting at too slow of a pace during the entire 10 round contest. Had Hitchins increased his punch rate and been more aggressive, he would have knocked him out. The fact that Hitchins only has seven knockouts in his 16-fight career shows that he fights at too slow of a pace.
Flyweight prospect Yankiel Rivera (3-0, 2 KOs) outworked the tough Fernando Diaz (11-3-1, 3 KOs) by an eight round unanimous decision in his first fight after signing with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing. The scores were 7973, 79-73, and 78-74. Rivera, 22, faded in the last rounds, and took a lot of hard right hands from the 22-year-old Diaz. In the first rounds, the 5’3″ Rivera outworked Diaz, taking advantage of his low work rate. Rivera’s defense wasn’t on the level that you’d like to see from a fighter that is being hyped the way he is right now. Against a bigger puncher, Rivera would have been in trouble tonight. In the seventh and eighth rounds. Diaz connected with some beautiful right hands and left hooks to the head of Rivera, freezing his forward progress.
In an odd fight, female featherweight Skye Nicolson (6-0) defeated previously unbeaten Spaniard Tania Alvarez (7-1, 1 KOs) by an unimpressive 10 round unanimous decision. The scores were 100-90, 98-92, and 97-93. Alvarez, 21, had no boxing skills at all and was running straight at the 27-year-old Nicolson the entire fight, getting picked off repeatedly. In the final three rounds, Nicolson gassed out from the pressure and spent much of the time tying up Alvarez to keep her from landing. The referee was okay with the nonstop clinching, but it was pretty blatant on Nicolson’s part.
The Australian Nicolson was totally exhausted, and what little power she started the fight with was gone by the eighth. Moreover, she could no longer move around the ring to avoid the pressure from Alvarez, who was starting to get to her. All in all, not impressive stuff by either fighter, especially Nicolson, because she’s being hyped in a big way. Based on this performance. Nicolson would stand no chance against Amanda Serrano. She doesn’t possess the pop in her punches and her gas tank is too limited. If you’re the handlers of Nicolson, it would be a good idea to give her more time to work on her game and let Serrano age more before you make that fight. The fight was disturning to watch because Alvarez had no skills at all whatsoever and was just running at Nicolson. The only reason Alvarez got away with this style of fighting is Nicolson has no power, and her stamina was poor.
Undefeated female super bantamweight Ramla Ali (8-0, 2 KOs) used sharp combination punching coupled with frequent tie-ups to defeat Avril Mathie (8-1-1, 3 KOs) by a 10round unanimous decision to capture the IBF Intercontinental strap. Due to the constant holding from Ali, it was difficult for Mathie to get her shots off because she would immediately be tied up after Ramla would throw one-two combis. The judges’ scores were 99-91, 99-91, and 99-91. It’s unclear what the judges saw for them to give it to Ali by the lopsided scores that they turned in because the contest seemed closer.
Shadasia Green (12-0, 11 KOs) scored a sixth round TKO win over Elin Cederroos (8-2, 4 KOs) in the sixth in a WBA/WBC super middleweight title eliminator. Cederroos was knocked down in the third by the 33-year-old Green. In the sixth, referee Danny Schiavon stepped in and halted the fight after Green landed a barrage of unanswered shots. The time of the stoppage was 1:08 of the sixth.
Undefeated lightweight prospect Harley Mederos (5-0, 4 KOs) used his Gatti-esque fighting style to wear down and stop Julio Madera (4-3, 2 KOs) in the sixth round. The referee stepped in and halted the fight due to the punishment Madera was taking from Mederos. The time of the stoppage was at :25 of the sixth.
In a competitive battle, undefeated light welterweight prospect Aaron Aponte (7-0-1, 2 KOs) defeated Joshua David Rivera (8-2, 3 KOs) by an eight round unanimous decision. The judges’ scores were 80-72, 80-72, and 80-72. Despite the wide cards, the fight had a lot of two-way action, with both guys unloading huge shots.
Preview: Is age creeping up on Serrano?
The knockout artist Amanda Serrano (43-2-1, 30 KOs) has come up empty in her last handful of fights, failing to score knockouts like she once did regularly, which suggests that her age might be creeping up on her.
At 34, Serrano isn’t the young lion that she used to be, and as a result, she’s been forced to go the distance in grueling battles in her last four contests. Serrano’s last knockout came in March 2021 when she stopped Daniela Romina Bermudez in the ninth round.
The good news for Serrano is that Cruz (15-1, 3 KOs) has very little pop in her punches, so there’s little threat of her getting much resistance from her opponent. Still, it’ll likely be another 10 round affairs for Serrano, but at least she’ll have accomplished her goal of becoming the undisputed champion at featherweight.
“It means everything to me, but I think it means more to me because my island never had an undisputed champion,” said Amanda Serrano to DAZN. “Of course, the island of Puerto Rico, where I come from where we had amazing talent, great champions coming out of that little island, but we never had an undisputed.
“It’s truly amazing to be fighting for the undisputed championship at the Hula Theater here in New York because I made history there. I became a seven-division world champion there, and I picked up the first piece from this division at that arena,” continued Serrano.
“It would be the fruit of almost twelve years of labor, and now I am just a few days from achieving it,” said Erika Cruz.
“Being in the UK for my last three fights was a way to build and to learn more about the sport. Now coming to the States, it’s been a dream come true, and now I get to fight here in America,” said Alycia Baumgardner.
In a spectacular card tonight, three-belt female featherweight champion Amanda Serrano will battle WBA champ Erika Cruz for the undisputed championship LIVE on DAZN at Madison Square Garden in New York. The main portion of the card will begin at 8:00 p.m. ET.