Amanda Serrano and greatness go hand-in-hand – but the Brooklyn star admits that beating Erika Cruz to become the undisputed World Featherweight champion would be one of her biggest achievements, as they clash at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, live worldwide on DAZN.
Serrano (43-2-1 30 KOs) is the only seven-weight World champion in women’s boxing history and the Puerto Rican legend is no stranger to fighting for the undisputed crown having served up the fight of the year for all the Lightweight titles against Irish legend Katie Taylor in April.
‘The Real Deal’ has been collecting World title belts against the very best for over a decade, but the fan favorite is always reaching for glory as she aims to continues her quest to inspire the young talent in Puerto Rico.
“Undisputed means a lot,” said Serrano. “It means you are the best; you have everyone looking to beat you, you are top dog, unquestionably number one in the division. Becoming the first undisputed champion at Featherweight would be so cool after being a pro for 14 years.
“Puerto Rico is so small but there’s so much talent there, but there’s no undisputed champion – we have every other type of champion, but not undisputed. I want to give that back to them, for some bragging rights for Puerto Rico. Seven-weight is special because I am the only female to do it, that’s amazing, but undisputed is the icing on the cake and it’ll be me giving Puerto Rico everything I can.
“I love Puerto Rico and I want to motivate every Puerto Rico kid, but also every Latina girl, there’s no dream too big, just work hard, and surround yourself with the right people. When a little girl comes up to me and says ‘I started fighting because of you’ I am that little girl looking for my inspiration, so I feel I have done a good job.
“I would do it all again – it’s easy to say in this spot now, but you have to suffer the lows. It teaches patience and I am glad that we had it and I wouldn’t change anything.”
Saturday’s clash holds even more significance as it becomes the latest mega-fight between Puerto Rico and Mexico and will be added to the pantheon of great bouts to star fighters from those boxing hotbeds.
WBA ruler Cruz has defended her crown twice in America and Mexico having ripped it from long reigning champion Jelena Mrdjenovich, and ‘Dynamita’ has been biding her time to land the blockbuster battle she faces in a venue that is close to Serrano’s heart.
“There’s nothing like Mexico vs. Puerto Rico,” said Serrano. “The rivalry has been there forever, and I’m honored to share the ring with her. We have the same goal here, she’s a champion and I’m a champion, we want the same thing and I think she’s going to fight like all great Mexican fighters do, with all her heart.
“Erika has less fights than me, but toughness comes from within, and she wants to rip my head off and take my belts! How I win depends on her – if she comes to win, it’ll be an easy night, if she wants to box and move, you can’t beat me, it doesn’t happen. We will give the fans an amazing fight for sure.
Fighting at the Hulu Theater is so special to me. Madison Square Garden was amazing and the first time I have boxed there. One of my favorites, Miguel Cotto, used to fight there all the time, but I have a special thing at Hulu.
“I won the 2009 Golden Gloves here and in 2019, I became a seven-weight World champion there,” said Serrano. “I went back and beat Heather Hardy to win the WBO Featherweight title, the first piece of the puzzle, and now I go back there to try and complete the set against Cruz. Yes, it’s smaller, but that makes the fans closer to you, it’s a great place to fight and it means so much to me, it’s going to be a great night.”
“I never thought about boxing. I didn’t think I’d be a fighter, let alone a World champion, and let alone a seven-division champion going for undisputed. I just liked fighting. Then I started winning and winning and became World champion, but it didn’t really hit me that I was doing anything special until I was two-division then three-division, and I thought, ‘maybe there is something to this?’
“I don’t like the word pioneer because it makes me feel a bit old! But I was in the sport when it wasn’t fun. Women weren’t respected. My drive and wanting to be the best I can be, that’s all that kept me going. Every day me and the team were ready to call it quits because it was too hard – there was no respect, no recognition, no opportunities, and no money in the sport. We always questioned ourselves because there was no light at the end of the tunnel, but something kept us going and I am so happy that we did because look at us now.”
Serrano’s clash with Cruz is part of an historic night of action at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden as Alycia Baumgardner faces Elhem Mekhaled for the undisputed title at Super-Featherweight.
Brooklyn ace Richardson Hitchins makes a long-awaited return to action in New York as he defends his IBF North American Super-Lightweight title against New Jersey’s John Bauza.
There’s three more female title fights on the card, as Australian star Skye Nicolson (5-0) looks to take a big step towards World title action against fellow unbeaten fighter Tania Alvarez (7-0 1 KO) for the WBC Silver Featherweight title and there’s another all-undefeated belt battle as Ramla Ali (7-0 2 KOs) faces title action for the first time in the paid ranks as she meets Avril Mathie (8-0-1 3 KOs) for the IBF Intercontinental Super-Bantamweight strap, Shadasia Green (11-0 10 KOs) defends her WBC Silver Super-Middleweight title against Elin Cederroos (8-1 4 KOs) in an eliminator for the WBC World title.
Yankiel Rivera (2-0 2 KOs) will be looking to make it three KOs in three in his Matchroom debut against Fernando Diaz, and Aaron Aponte (6-0-1 2 KOs) and Brooklyn’s Harley Mederos (4-0 3 KOs) complete the action against Joshua David Rivers (8-1 5 KOs) and Julio Madera (4-2 2 KOs) respectively.
Photo Credit: Melina Pizano/Matchroom