Why We Need to See Katie Taylor-Amanda Serrano 2

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzFeatured Columnist IIIFebruary 5, 2023

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 30: Katie Taylor of Ireland (black trunks) trades punches with Amanda Serrano of Puerto Rico (white trunks) for the World Lightweight Title fight at Madison Square Garden on April 30, 2022 in New York, New York. This bout marks the first women’s boxing fight to headline Madison Square Garden in the venue’s history. Taylor defeated Serrano on a judges decision. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Sarah Stier/Getty Images

It was a magical night.

Not only did Amanda Serrano and Katie Taylor engage in a terrific fight last April in midtown Manhattan, they made a little history along the way, too.

The Puerto Rican slugger and Irish stylist, then 33 and 35, respectively, were a headline act at Madison Square Garden, becoming the first women to top a card in the venue's century-plus run.

Their bout drew unanimously rave reviews and was heralded among the year's best by multiple outlets—including Boxing Scene, Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News.

Taylor, for the record, rebounded from the brink of a TKO loss to earn a narrow split decision and kept the IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO lightweight title belts with which she'd arrived.

Irish boxer Katie Taylor (C) celebrates after defeating Puerto Rican boxer Amanda Serrano for the World Lightweight Title fight at Madison Square Garden on April 30, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)
ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

And in the process created a compelling rivalry neither has replicated.

Though Taylor returned six months later and stayed unbeaten with a win on an Eddie Hearn show at Wembley Arena and Serrano has added two more belts to an already immense collection of hardware at featherweight, neither has repeated the relevance they generated as a tandem.

Serrano, in fact, was back at MSG on Saturday night (albeit in the far smaller Hulu Theater room) to defeat 32-year-old Mexican southpaw Erika Cruz in a Jake Paul-promoted main event.

It was her 44th win in 47 fights across a career stretching back to 2009 but even a wide unanimous decision on a show supported by fellow women's champion Alycia Baumgardner and fellow female featherweight Skye Nicolson couldn't divert the powerful flow of revisionist ring history.

Prodigious resumes and possible future paydays aside, it's still all about Taylor—who just happened to have made the trip to New York to sit ringside and seize the post-fight chatter narrative.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 29: Katie Taylor of Ireland (L) and Amanda Serrano of Puerto Rico (R) face off during the Weigh-In leading up to their World Lightweight Title fight at The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on April 29, 2022 in New York, New York. The bout will be the first women's combat sports fight to headline Madison Square Garden. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The takeaway? A rematch needs to happen. And it needs to happen next.

Maybe repeatedly.

"We don't know what the future holds, but right now my goal is to become undisputed champion and then the rematch with Katie Taylor," Serrano told The DAZN Boxing Show.

"I don't know, they have been talking about the trilogy before the first fight, so she came to New York, she beat me, I go to Ireland and beat her, so maybe Puerto Rico?"

Doesn't matter. Just as long as it happens.

ATLANTIC CITY, NEW JERSEY - JUNE 10: Claressa Shields of the United States punches Brittney Elkin of the United States during the third round of their lightweight bout in Ovation Hall at Ocean Casino Resort on June 10, 2021 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Though 2022 was certainly a banner year for the sweet science's XX chromosome set (read: Claressa Shields) neither the "GWOAT's" next fight nor the plans of their contemporaries boast the same sort of anticipatory heft as the would-be second (or third) act between "KT" and the "Real Deal."

Shields, too, has won titles at multiple weights—she's reigned in three classes to Serrano's seven—and she drew huge numbers on SkySports for a unification with Savannah Marshall last fall in England.

Still, she's never headlined a similarly significant domestic room and told Bleacher Report last summer that she'd spend this year chasing mixed martial arts glory with the Professional Fighters League—the organization with which she signed in late 2020 and has competed twice.

"Boxing is my first love," Shields said.

"I don't think I'll ever be able to put that down until it's time. But I'll say I know in order to be a PFL champion and an MMA champion you have to dedicate some time. I'm willing to dedicate the year 2023 to that and then after 2023 I don't know if I'll be doing MMA anymore."

That clears the path for Taylor and Serrano to reprise last April's near-Broadway blockbuster.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 02: (L-R) Eddie Hearn chairman of Matchroom Sport, Katie Taylor, Joel Fisher-EVP, MSG Marquee Events, Amanda Serrano and Jake Paul co-founder of Most Valuable Promotions pose for the media during a press conference announcing Taylor Vs Serrano's upcoming fight at Madison Square Garden on February 02, 2022 in New York City. Undisputed World Lightweight champion Katie Taylor will face seven-weight World champion Amanda Serrano for the historic bout at Madison Square Garden on April 30, 2022. (Photo by J. Yim/Getty Images)
J. Yim/Getty Images

Provided, of course, that the men involved can handle their ends of the bargain.

As mentioned earlier, Taylor is a promotional partner to Matchroom's Hearn and Serrano works with the insurgent Paul, which could make negotiations tense given their rocky relationship.

The two are on opposite sides of a $100 million defamation lawsuit Hearn deemed necessary last fall following Paul's public suggestion that the Englishman had paid off judges.

It's precisely the sort of personal roadblock that's sidetracked events engineered by other rivals, but Hearn said he respected Paul for not letting the enmity impact their fight-making business.

"(The first fight) was such a special sporting occasion that doing it back in Ireland, we have to do it again," he told Boxing Scene. "We just have to make sure we don't let things or people get in the way. It's just like the most natural rematch. We would be idiots if we didn't make that fight."

Indeed, chatter in the aftermath of Taylor-Serrano I centered around Dublin's Croke Park as a possible rematch venue, but Hearn said staging an event at the stadium constructed in 1891 is cost prohibitive. That's made the city's nearby 3arena, a 13,000-seat indoor amphitheater, the current frontrunner to host Taylor's first fight in her home country since turning pro in 2016.

"We still have to go through the process of negotiating, making sure everyone's happy," Hearn said. "But hopefully if everything plays out, everyone will be sensible, and we can make it happen."