Fight picks: Katie Taylor v Amanda Serrano
On Saturday, undisputed female lightweight champion Katie Taylor will defend her titles against multi-weight titleholder Amanda Serrano at the Madison Square Garden, New York.
The DAZN event, which also features a vacant 168-pound Ring Magazine title fight between Franchon Crews Dezurn and Elin Cederroos begins at 7:30 p.m. ET/ 4:30 p.m. PT.
Taylor was a standout amateur, winning a slew of titles and tournaments, including gold at the 2012 London Olympics. The Irish woman turned professional in 2016 and beat Anahi Ester Sanchez (UD 10) to claim the WBA lightweight title the following year.
Since then, the now 35-year-old, bested future junior welterweight and welterweight champion Jessica McCaskill (UD 10), added the IBF title against Victoria Bustos (UD 10) and WBO laurels by stopping Rose Volante (TKO 9). She became undisputed queen of the lightweight division when she edged past Delfine Persoon (MD 10) to pick up The Ring and WBC titles. She has ratcheted up several title defenses while waiting for her biggest challenge so far.
Serrano turned professional in 2009. She picked up the WBC featherweight title with a demolition of Jennifer Scott (TKO 1) in June 2011 and quickly became a two-weight world champion adding the IBF 130-pound title to her resume. She lost her title and unbeaten record to Frida Wallberg (UD 10) in April 2012.
The now 33-year-old rebounded strongly jumping around the divisions to add lightweight, junior featherweight, bantamweight and junior bantamweight titles to her collection. She holds wins over Heather Hardy (UD 10) and Yamileth Mercado (UD 10).
Will Taylor (20-0, 6 knockouts) be able to use her perceived edge in boxing skills to out box her Puerto Rican rival? Conversely, can Serrano (42-1-1, 30 KOs) use her natural power advantage to inflict damage on Taylor? Both are veterans, will the wear and tear of long careers begin to show on one of them?
Online gambling group William Hill lists Taylor as an 23/20 (+115) favorite, while Serrano is priced at 10/13 (-130); the draw is 10/1 (+1000).
Here’s how the experts see it: THE RING MAGAZINE/RINGTV.COM
DOUG FISCHER: TAYLOR MD
“This showdown is as good as it gets: the battle-tested undisputed lightweight champion vs. the most experienced and feared female fighter in the sport. Taylor’s got the elite amateur background and a frenetic, mobile style well-suited for the two-minute rounds of women’s pro boxing. Serrano, the best all-around athlete among female fighters, is a powerful, accurate-punching southpaw and body shot specialist. I’ve gone back and forth over who I think has the edge in this matchup, but I’ve ultimately gone with Taylor, the natural lightweight who’s used to going toe to toe with big, strong, world-class opponents, such as Delfine Persoon, Natasha Jonas, Jessica McCaskill and Christina Linardatou. Despite Serrano’s vaunted power and major belts in seven weight classes, she’s a natural featherweight, at her best in the 126-pound division where she’s had tough fights with an unbeaten-but-aging Heather Hardy and tough-but-limited Daniel Bermudez, who is a natural junior bantamweight/bantamweight. Taylor’s going to be a lot sharper and faster than Hardy and Bermudez (no offense to those two warriors), especially with her straight right and counter hook. Serrano’s best bet is to apply hard pressure and target Taylor’s body in hopes of wearing her down over the second half of the fight. I think she will do this, but Taylor has a way of battling back whenever she’s hurt or seemingly out of gas. I think this one goes the distance and Taylor fast head shots get slightly more credit from the judges than Serrano’s accurate power punches and body attack.”
TOM GRAY: DRAW
“I like Katie to win the fight. There’s a train of thought that the Irish boxing sensation has seen better days, but I put a less than stellar 2021 down to a lack of motivation. Serrano is a fight that Katie has been looking forward to for years and she’ll be primed both physically and mentally. I think it’ll be tough – Serrano is class – but I expect Katie’s natural size and handspeed to be decisive. Why the draw? It’s the biggest fight in women’s boxing history and a tie is the best way to sell a return fight. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the three judges are unable to find a winner.”
ANSON WAINWRIGHT: TAYLOR SD
“An excellent match up that will bring a lot of attention to woman’s boxing. Both are at the top of their games and I can’t see it being anything other than exciting and close. I see both having moments with the fight going back and forth. Ultimately at the end of 10-rounds, I think Taylor may just nick it to retain her titles and instantly start talk of a rematch for later this year.”
LEE GROVES: TAYLOR UD 12
“This fight will live up to all the expectations, and, more than most fights, the winner will be determined by which fighter imposes their pace on the other. If Serrano can inject high-octane pace into the proceedings like Delfine Persoon did, especially in their first meeting, then it will take all of Taylor’s talent to hold Serrano at bay. But if Taylor blunts Serrano’s output and creates more of a classic boxing match, she’ll have the edge. It helps Serrano’s cause that the fight is being staged in her hometown, and it also helps that Taylor defeated her older sister Cindy because it will give her even more motivation to succeed. Another factor in her favor is her southpaw stance, which may well blunt the effectiveness of Taylor’s jab. a jab that helps set up the rest of her offense. Because Serrano hasn’t shown the same power at 135 than she has at lower weights, I see this going the distance, with Serrano earning an early lead with her superlative work rate, then scoring enough points to capture a hard-earned but deserved decision.”
RON BORGES: TAYLOR PTS
“In what should be a closely contested match I like Taylor’s boxing ability over Serrano’s size edge and more powerful punch. It’s a classic style matchup. Styles make fights so we’ll soon see which one works but I favor Taylor by decision.”
TOM GERBASI: UNDECIDED
“My prediction changes hourly, so that will have to be a fight day thing, but I do have many thoughts on the most important fight in women’s boxing history. Katie Taylor has been in the big rooms around the world and in the spotlight on a regular basis for most of her life. Amanda Serrano has not. Will that play a role in the outcome before the first bell even rings? And once the bell rings, will Serrano’s power, pressure and body attack be too much for Taylor, or will the Puerto Rican’s power be diluted by the move up to 135 pounds? The body attack shouldn’t be affected by the change in divisions, though, and if that slows Taylor down, coupled with Katie’s willingness to get into a firefight, toe-to-toe exchanges might favor Serrano. But…if Taylor decides to be the pressure fighter, make it ugly and throw Serrano off her usual rhythm, can Serrano fight backing up? See, so many questions, and that’s what makes this such a compelling fight. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s close (and possibly controversial) enough that we get to see this one happen again before the end of the year. But if it is decisive in one woman’s favor, the 2022 Fighter of the Year race may get wrapped up in April.”
NORM FRAUENHEIM: SERRANO SD
“The best pick is a rematch. It figures to be close enough to generate plenty of controversy about the judging and whether women should finally be fighting three-minute rounds instead of two. A draw wouldn’t be a surprise.
In the end, however, Serrano figures to prevail. Her power will allow her to sustain a punishing body attack, leaving Katie Taylor tired, vulnerable and beaten on two of the three scorecards.”
DIEGO MORILLA: TAYLOR SD
“People seem to forget one basic fact about this fight, and it is the level of opposition that these two fantastic fighters have faced in their careers. A lot of attention has been placed on how close some of Taylor’s victories were, but those were earned against opponents of a quality that Serrano has never faced. Being punched repeatedly by natural 135-pounders is only one of Taylor’s advantages here. Her power and accuracy are her greatest tools, and it is not difficult to believe that Serrano has not yet been punched as hard and as often as she will be against Taylor. Serrano’s outstanding athleticism and skills will definitely earn her more than a few rounds, but the home stretch will belong to Taylor as she will emerge with a close but clear victory.”
DUKE MCKENZIE (FORMER THREE-DIVISION TITLEHOLDER/TV ANALYST): SERRANO MD
“This one has the juices flowing, an undisputed battle of the best vs. the best. I kid you not, Taylor really can fight with just one obvious flaw she gives one to take three in return. Serrano the slick southpaw Puerto Rican seems to just have the edge. A flat footed come forward type who likes switching her attack to head and body. I see a close fight and Serrano the victor at the end of the contest by majority decision.”
PAULIE MALIGNAGGI (FORMER WORLD CHAMPION/COMMENTATOR): TAYLOR PTS
“I think Taylor-Serrano was a better fight a couple of years ago. At least from the standpoint of the way Serrano was looking, I’d have picked her to win. Based on the recent run of form though it looks like Taylor has been looking better while Serrano has sort of looked lethargic in her two most recent fights. It’s possible this could just be boredom but I saw too many careless habits in back-to-back fights and Taylor is a different level. She makes her opponent pay for fighting in the kind of manner Serrano has lately. Taylor can be intense and go through the gears and she raises the intensity with speed when it’s needed. As a New Yorker, I’d love to be wrong but to me it seems based off this that Taylor is the pick on points comfortably.”
STEVE FARHOOD (TV ANALYST): TAYLOR PTS
“This is a great matchup – the biggest and best fight in women’s boxing history. I favor Taylor on points, mainly because the weight (135-pounds) is to her slight advantage. Serrano’s best chance is to outwork Taylor, and that’s a possibility. Taylor will look to counter and take advantage of Serrano’s aggressiveness. Taylor by close (and perhaps disputed) decision.”
RAUL MARQUEZ (FORMER WORLD CHAMPION/COMMENTATOR): SERRANO PTS
“Both evenly matched veterans. Taylor stays busy throws a lot of punches has big heart. Serrano has a consistent body attack and a vicious uppercut. Hard to pick but I’m going with Serrano on this one.”
JOLENE MIZZONE (MANAGER): SERRANO TKO 10
“I think that Serrano is the all-around better boxer and has fought much better opposition and has much more experience in the pros. I think Serrano is going to break Taylor down and stop her in the 10th round.”
ERIC BOTTJER (MATCHMAKER): TAYLOR PTS
“I’ve made fights for both of these women. If all boxers had the pride and professionalism of Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano, I’d have the easiest job in the world. This is one fight where I’m rooting for both fighters. That said, I’m picking Katie Taylor by decision. Not because I think she is the better fighter. She’s not. But she has two distinct advantages. One, she’s the bigger fighter. Katie is 135-pounds. Solid. Amanda can actually make 115-pounds. That’s a huge difference in body type, and therefore, at least some difference in strength. Second, Katie has experience at this level. She was in the Olympics and fought in front of huge crowds at Madison Square Garden (on the undercard of Canelo Alvarez and Anthony Joshua fights). I’m not suggesting Amanda will “choke.” But any fighter at this level will tell you that their first time at this level in front of this type of crowd was not their best performance. I love the fact they’re making a little history here and I suspect each lady will look back on this experience years from now as a significant event in their lives. I can’t wait to watch this fight.”
ROBERT DIAZ (MATCHMAKER, GOLDEN BOY): SERRANO SD
“Really intriguing fight between two of boxing best athletes, a real 50/50 fight that has me changing my pick daily. I can see this becoming a trilogy because I have a feeling after 10 rounds, we will all be wanting to see more. Taylor is strong and tremendous skill and the bigger fighter; Serrano is so precise and very strong. In the end Serrano by split decision.”
MARC RAMSAY (TRAINER): TAYLOR SD
“Everything is in place for a very complicated fight for Taylor. Serrano is a left-handed pressure fighter that can hit hard and non-stop (30 victories inside the limit). Despite what Serrano can bring on the table, I see Taylor winning a difficult fight. I think Taylor wins a split decision.”
ALEX STEEDMAN (COMMENTATOR): DRAW
“This has the potential to be a thrilling, tight affair. Both fight with energy and purpose and both have come out on top in hard fights. Taylor has the edge in speed while Serrano throws effective, hard combinations. The long years as an amateur seem to have finally caught up with Taylor in recent fights and she’s looked more beatable. But Serrano is loose and hittable. Tough call, likely close and probably controversial but I’ll take the draw and a rematch.”
VICTOR SILVA (TV/ANALYST): SERRANO UD
“Taylor vs. Serrano is the biggest fight we could get in women boxing but also the closest. Taylor is the undisputed champion; she overwhelms her opponents with a huge number of punches. Serrano had the experience, power and timing, which style will prevail makes it so interesting. I believe timing will be the biggest advantage, and Serrano will win a unanimous decision.”
KALLE SAUERLAND (PROMOTER): TAYLOR PTS
“I think it’s a fantastic fight, a great advertisement for female boxing and it’s going to be a huge event. I have a lot of respect for both for both fighters and wish them both the best. I expect Katie Taylor will be the victor. I think she wins a points decision in a very, very tough fight.”
WAYNE MCCULLOUGH: (FORMER WORLD CHAMPION): TAYLOR PTS
“I think Serrano will pressure and try to use inside work to try and upset Katie’s rhythm, but I think Taylor will be smart and use her long jabs and footwork to avoid a toe-to-toe fight and come away with a points win.”
Final Tally: Taylor 11-6-2 and 1 undecided
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright