Serrano: ‘Becoming the first undisputed champion at Featherweight would be so cool’

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

Baumgardner on Mekhaled: ‘I will put her down’

Alycia Baumgardner is in the form of her life and knows one more win will cement her spot as one of the best fighters on the planet as she meets Elhem Mekhaled for the undisputed Super-Featherweight crown on Saturday night at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York, live worldwide on DAZN.

Baumgardner (13-1 7 KOs) has been on an incredible run of victories since landing one of the knockouts of the year in 2021 when she stunned IBF champion Terri Harper with a sledgehammer left hook to land the WBC and IBO titles in Sheffield, England in November.

The Detroit star defended her title in the UK in April with a shutout win over Melissa Esquivel in Manchester, to line-up her first unification bout against American rival Mikaela Mayer.

London was calling for that showdown and while a bitter build-up sizzled without boiling over, Baumgardner kept her cool on the October fight night, putting in a career-best performance to add Mayer’s WBO, IBF and Ring Magazine belts to her own straps.

Baumgardner’s rise gives her legitimate cause to claim to be a top pound-for-pound star in the sport alongside Katie Taylor, Claressa Shields and Amanda Serrano, and she is proud of the hard work it’s taken to get to this spot.

“Undisputed is one of those things that’s easy to say but hard to achieve,” said Baumgardner. “With hard work and dedication, you can do it, but it’s tough. You are facing the best of the best back-to-back, and that’s the journey that I am on. I am making my mark, leaving my footprint on the sport.

“I don’t care how she got the opportunity, but she’s in with a dog and I hope she knows that. I am ready to knock this girl out. I’m going to really hurt her; I have a lot of pent-up aggression and she’s going to know what it’s like to fight the best. It’s not personal, it’s my mentality and she will feel the power in both hands, and she’ll think, ‘damn, I am in with a beast’.

“If you fight me, you think you can beat me and are better than me. You don’t know me. You might see a smile on a pretty girl, but don’t get it twisted, I got the dog in me and the same hunger I had when I was eight and you cannot take anything away from me. I hustled to get here, and you aren’t taking it away from me.

“Elhem is hungry. She’s wanted the World title fight for a long time, and that’s great. I know my assignment though and I will put her down. Nothing changes that it’s her, it’s a challenge, she wants it, I want it.

“We only have two minutes, don’t give anything away and make a statement every round. I believe Elhem will come forward and I will be the sharper fighter and showing my experience, setting her up. She’s wild, her defense is a bit sloppy, so she’s going to take a punch, but can she take my punch? I don’t know, I have a different type of power, but we’ll see. It’s a KO, for sure, I can feel it. I visualize a lot and I am in the ring, I KO her, and my hand is raised, and I’ve got all the belts.”

The Mayer fight was huge for both fighters, coming on an all-female bill in the English capital, alongside Shields taking on her Brit foe Savannah Marshall.

A spicy build-up whet the appetite for the fight with Mayer, but unlike some fights that have explosive lead-ins that fizzle out, Baumgarder and Mayer served up a fight of the year contender – and that made victory all the more sweeter.

“It was awesome,” said Baumgardner. “A great build-up, I loved the animosity we had, I was fighting someone that I had been watching for a long time in the amateurs, and now as a pro I was in a unification with her. I know I won that fight, you don’t like it? Argue with the judges, they got it right.

“She is delusional and so salty. When you have everything and you are the star, and you lose it all on one night, and lose it to little ol’ AB, it hurts, stings. I just believe she got beat by one of the best fighters in the world.

“I’m the best in the world. No-one stops me but me. I took an early loss, brushed it off, learned from it and grew. I went to England as an underdog against Harper and Mayer and proved everyone wrong. I am here for a reason, I speak truth to power, and I know I will go down as one of the greatest female fighters of all time.

“The belts are cool but why am I really here? It’s because I like to fight. I like the battle. I like it when someone thinks that they can beat me. You can hit harder than me? OK take this. You hit me with a shot? Cool – boom, boom, here’s my shots. I like that. I love to prove to myself that ‘you can do anything AB, no-one can beat you but you’.

“I have a loss too – who cares? I picked myself up, moved forward and now look. I became World champion and beat ‘the best’ in Mayer and made it easy work. If we run it back again, I would really dog her, know that now. Now I know I have you, next time, your career might be finished, because you keep playing with me, and I don’t like that.”

Baumgardner’s clash with Mekhaled is part of an historic night of action at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden as Amanda Serrano returns to Hulu Theater to aim to hold all the marbles for a second time, this time at Featherweight where she faces Mexico’s WBA ruler Erika Cruz.

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: Melina Pizano/Matchroom

Love can’t wait to headline show in Cleveland

Montana Love fulfills a dream on Saturday night – headlining for the first time in his hometown of Cleveland as he faces Steve Spark for the WBA Intercontinental Super-Lightweight title at the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Saturday night (November 12)(DAZN).

Love (18-0-1 9 KOs) tops the bill in the sports mad Ohio city and on his second appearance at the home of NBA giants, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Love meets Australian Spark (15-2 14 KOs) in a pivotal clash in the 140lb division, with ranking positions and World title shots at the front of the hometown man’s mind.

“The city is showing me love and getting behind me,” said Love. “It’s a proud city and we look after each other and back. It’s a dream come true, being able to headline in the biggest arena in my home. Cleveland means everything to me. We don’t have much, but we stick together and get the job done.

“The Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse is an electric place, we’ve had a lot of great athletes come through the city in that building, and now I am one of them. I am living my dream, I went through the trials and tribulations to get here, and what I had to deal with is a big part of what makes me hungry now.

“I promised my mother that I would take this 100 per cent seriously. The last thing she remembers of me is going to prison and being in and out of jail, so now I am trying to right my wrongs.

“I feel like I am made for this moment. I am coming off being co-main on a Canelo card; fighting in front of a packed house in Las Vegas and I’ve fought at home in front of a big crowd before, so there’s no pressure, I’m going to embrace it.

“Steve is a tough guy; he’ll bring the fight and it’ll make for a real spectacle. I want to win this in spectacular fashion, go for the KO – but we just want to look beautiful and put on a great show.”

Love and Spark clash on a stacked card in Cleveland, with the co-main bout featuring a Matchroom debut for Richardson Hitchins also at Super-Lightweight, where the Brooklyn talent faces Yomar Alamo for the IBF North American title.

Raymond Ford continues to catch the eye in his rise in the Featherweight division and defends his WBA Continental Americas title against Sakaria Lukas and Christian Tapia takes on Cleveland’s Thomas Mattice for the WBA Continental Americas Super-Featherweight title.

Love’s older brother and Olympian Raynell Williams continues his return to boxing against fellow Ohioan Ryizeemmion Ford, Khalil Coe faces unbeaten Bradley Olmeda, Nikoloz Sekhniashvili meets Ohio’s David Rodriguez and Brazilian Olympic silver medalist and former amateur World champion Beatriz Ferreira steps through the ropes for the first time in the paid ranks against fellow Brazilian Taynna Cardoso.

Colbert: ‘I came to show the 130-pound division that I can punch’

Undefeated interim WBA Super Featherweight Champion Chris “Primetime” Colbert scored a statement knockout victory Saturday night, dropping tough contender Jaime Arboleda three times en route to the 11th round win live on tonight’s SHOWTIMEBOXING: SPECIAL EDITION from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. in an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions.

At the end of an action-packed ninth round, the flashy Colbert (15-0, 6 KOs) sent the WBA No. 4 ranked Arboleda (16-2, 13 KOs) to the canvas for the fourth time in his career when he caught him with a vicious left hook. Arboleda survived, but in round 11 Colbert knocked Arboleda down twice early in the round and followed up with an unanswered flurry that convinced referee Steve Willis to stop the fight at 1:37 of the penultimate round. Watch the stoppage here: https://twitter.com/ShowtimeBoxing/status/1337983163759538177

“I dominated the whole fight,” said Colbert. “I probably gave him two rounds, but that was by choice. I just wanted to build his confidence because I knew I was going to stop him in the later rounds. I came to show the 130-pound division that I can punch. I’m here and I’m here to stay.

“I’m more than just a flashy boxer. I can stand in there and bang. I know there were close rounds in the fight, but I understood that as it was happening. It was part of the game plan. I knew what I was doing. I was wearing him down to knock him out late. I did what I said I’d do.”

Colbert was docked a point for a low blow in the eighth round and at the time of the stoppage all three judges scored each round identically and had Colbert ahead 98-90.

“I just kept my head up after the deduction and kept coming strong,” said Colbert. “I had to come out here and put on a dominating performance. I talk a lot, so I had to make sure I backed it up.”

The Panamanian Arboleda was the much busier fighter in Saturday’s main event, throwing almost 300 more punches (709-411) than Colbert. However, Brooklyn’s Colbert out-landed Arboleda 184-153 and relied heavily on his lightning quick hand speed and stylish defense to stymie Arboleda’s attack.

The 24-year-old Colbert, who was making his SHOWTIME debut in his first televised main event, proved that he is a legitimate threat in the talent-heavy 130-pound division.

In the co-main event, talented up-and-coming super lightweight prospect Richardson Hitchins (12-0, 5 KOs) remained unbeaten, scoring a split-decision victory over former world champion Argenis Mendez (25-6-3, 12 KOs). Two judges scored the 10-round contest 98-92 and 99-91 in favor of Hitchins, while one judge scored it 97-93 in Mendez’s favor.

The Brooklyn, N.Y. native Hitchins, who represented his parents’ home country of Haiti in the 2016 Olympics, used his superb jab to counteract Mendez’s power punches. The 23-year-old Hitchins landed 57 of his 198 jabs thrown compared to Mendez’s 12 of 90. Mendez landed 80 of his 256 power punches, including 44 shots to the body, compared to Hitchins’ 60 power punches landed out of 135 thrown. Mendez came on late in the fight and was more active over the second half of the bout, but was unable to overcome Hitchins’ jab.

“I rate my performance a B-plus,” said Hitchins, who fights out of the Mayweather Promotions stable. “I think I might have lost one round. I could have gotten an A if I put a little more hurt on him, but I knew his defense would be tight. I’ve watched him since I was a kid. I knew he was a smart fighter. With the amount of experience I have compared to him, it was a great performance.

“Now I have my first world champion under my belt just 12 fights in. It’s a tremendous honor. I haven’t been boxing as long as he’s been professional. I’m proud of myself.”

In the telecast opener, Ronald Ellis (18-1-2, 12 KOs) was victorious by fifth-round TKO after 37-year-old veteran contender Matt Korobov (28-4-1, 14 KOs) suffered a fight-ending injury in his second straight appearance. In the fourth round, Korobov injured his left Achilles and prior to the start of the fifth round, the fight was stopped upon the advice of the ringside physician.

At the time of the forced stoppage, Korobov was ahead on two of the judges’ scorecards, with the third having it even after the four completed rounds. Over the first three rounds, Korobov landed two more punches than Ellis (22-20) and in the fourth round, Korobov upped his output, throwing a fight-high 56 punches with 11 connects.

The bout was contested at super middleweight after the 31-year-old Ellis came in five pounds above the middleweight limit at Friday’s official weigh-in. In Korobov’s last bout, he suffered a left shoulder injury and was unable to continue against Chris Eubank Jr.

“I know he dies out in the later rounds so I was going to step on it in the second half of the fight,” said Ellis, a native of Lynn, Mass. “It’s been a while and I know that this wasn’t my best performance. He’s awkward, he’s a southpaw. He wasn’t giving me that much but I was trying to beat him by a few punches each round. I heard the announcers say that I wasn’t throwing as much as I usually do but I was giving what I was getting. After I heard that, I stepped it up. Once I saw that his leg was hurt, I was nervous we were going to the scorecards because he might have grabbed early rounds.”

In non-televised undercard action, highly regarded featherweight prospect David Navarro scored a first-round KO for the second time in as many professional appearances. The 21-year-old Los Angeles native opted to forgo the chance to represent the U.S. at next summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, and has since displayed his power with two first-round KOs in the span of two months.

Photo: Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME

Hitchins: ‘Floyd(Mayweather) helped me tremendously while I was back in Las Vegas

Unbeaten rising prospect Richardson Hitchins shared details of his training camp, including pointers and motivation he received from Floyd Mayweather and Gervonta Davis, ahead of his super lightweight showdown against former world champion Argenis Mendez live on SHOWTIME this Saturday, December 12 at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT in an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.

“Floyd helped me tremendously while I was back in Las Vegas,” said Hitchins. “I already have the fundamentals as a fighter, but he showed me little things here and there and workouts that I have taken back home with me while I train for this fight. I’m not shy about my ability as a fighter, because I truly believe I am the best up and coming fighter in the game, so these are the kind of fights I need in order to show the world who Richardson Hitchins is.

“Gervonta has been instrumental in past fight camps as well, and he’s the type of person you need. He pushes you to go harder. We go head-to-head in trying to outdo each other, and that’s the type of competition that’s needed in order to really be the best.”

Despite training throughout the pandemic, Hitchins has been able to remain on task and on track throughout his camp that began in Las Vegas before ending in his native Brooklyn under the guidance of his head coach Lenny Wilson.

“The thing about me is, I’m focused no matter what,” said Hitchins. “I don’t take ‘off’ after my fights. I stay in shape all year round; I don’t need to get ready in terms of conditioning or getting my body back in shape because this is my job. I take my job very seriously. The discipline Floyd has had throughout his career is the same discipline I have. I have watched my idols and taken things from them so that I can put myself in a position to win.

“I don’t think the pandemic or the holidays necessarily altered my training. I still have access to my gym. There’s nothing that’s going to stand in my way of becoming great. The pandemic doesn’t slow me down, it’s just another roadblock to test my dedication to the sport.”

The 23-year-old Hitchins represented Haiti at the 2016 Olympic Games and will return to the ring after debuting in 2020 with a 10-round decision victory over Nicholas DeLomba in February. It was Hitchins’ second 10-round decision win after his previous fight saw him best Kevin Johnson following 10 rounds in November 2019.

“I often think back to my fight against Kevin Johnson, he’s a tough fighter and he’s the one who I can confidently say brought the best out of me,” said Hitchins. “Those are the fights that make me look back and watch closely the things I need to work on. That fight also showed me that no one should be overlooked, so going into this fight against Mendez, I’m not overlooking him.”

Mendez presents the most accomplished opponent of Hitchins’ young career. The 34-year-old former champion most recently fought Juan Heraldez and Anthony Peterson to draws in 2019, and scored victories over Eddie Ramirez and Ivan Redkach prior to that. For Hitchins, the strong resume of his opponent is something he relishes as a measuring stick for his progress.

“He’s a veteran, he’s been in there with a lot of tough guys and he’s a former world champion, so he clearly has a skill set that I think I need to face at this point in my career,” said Hitchins. “I need those big fights. He’s older now, but I feel like him in his prime still couldn’t touch my skillset. It’s my job to prove that.

“I know this won’t be an easy fight, but I’ll be prepared for whatever he brings. My motivation is to be more than ordinary. I will fulfill my goals when this is all said and done, and honestly, I’m just waiting for this fight to come so I can show that. Whether it’s Mendez, or whoever, the conviction I have and how I feel about myself is stronger than anything standing in front of me in that ring.”

Photo: Mayweather Promotions