The pair combined to show the brilliance of women’s boxing in the historic Madison Square Garden
Nobody will ever forget the night Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano changed boxing forever.
It was the night women’s boxing finally slipped its shackles for the very last time and the two boxers defied all expectations in a classic. I have no doubt that rounds five, six and 10 will be added to the list of boxing’s greatest rounds. Drop the labels, this is now.
The stage on Saturday night was the fabled Garden ring in New York City, a venue touched by over 50 years of memories. The 19,187 in attendance were blessed from the first bell to the very end; it was a fight of relentless drama, twists, blood and brilliance from both. Skill and power and desire only added to the night.
Taylor was defending her four lightweight titles, her pride and her place as the sport’s number one; Serrano has been kept on the outside, which often means ignored and avoided in boxing.
Taylor is the boxer, Serrano the puncher – the ring was their field of conflict.
Serrano hurt Taylor with body shots and short right hooks in the first four rounds. They were often punches that cracked as they landed; Taylor had started as the underdog with the bookies.
The crowd never stopped, a beautiful chorus of belief and devotion; I have never seen such a mixed crowd and it genuinely looked like fifty per cent were women. Add that to the facts that saturate the event: it was history in the making.
In round five, it looked over for Taylor; trapped in Serrano’s corner, cut over the right eye, her nose bleeding and the punches just kept on coming. Taylor’s left arm was tangled in the ropes for three seconds at one point; Serrano just kept hitting away. And then, with her flock standing and throwing punches with her, Taylor fought her way to the centre of the ring and they stood toe to toe. It looked like a choreographed dance of savagery. It was breathless craft.
One judge gave the fifth round to Serrano by a score of 10-8; a margin usually reserved for when one fighter knocks down the other. This was not an ordinary fight.
The sixth was the same. Serrano was perhaps just losing a bit of power, but not desire or strength. Taylor’s legs were still heavy, a natural side-effect of the fight’s brutal path. They slugged, the music raged and the screams reached a new level. At this point, two of the three judges just had Taylor in front; the fight was not decided.
In the last round they stood as perfect replicas of each other and traded punches to head and body; Serrano with right hooks and lefts to the body; Taylor with short hooks and her right hand.
They slugged it out for all the glory in the Garden ring to leave their mark on the night and on history. The fight needed to be this good – the sense of history had stolen the headlines from the actual fighting; they delivered. It was, quite simply, extraordinary.
And then the final bell ruined the show; they embraced, their teams made peace and hugged. Some cried. Taylor’s cut right eye was stopped. And then the split decision in Taylor’s favour was announced. It was close, but there was no riot on either side of the ropes. The women embraced, they talked about a rematch. They were both totally exhausted.
Talk of 90,000 at Croke Park in Dublin filled the rumour mills in the beer joints surrounding the Garden. A fight back at the Garden was also mentioned for the rematch. There are so many possible glories to extend the magic of the fight.
On Saturday night at the Garden, Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano owned the ring, the boxing business and the chaotic surrounds. It was Saturday night boxing fever in New York City and nobody will ever forget it.