By Gavin Casey
PROMOTER LOU DIBELLA claims Amanda Serrano is, for her size, the hardest-hitting female fighter he has seen in his 30 years involved in boxing, and will be putting some money on his charge when she squares off with rival Katie Taylor in the not-too-distant future.
It’s been a protracted and frustrating process but a female superfight between the Irish icon and the Puerto Rican-Brooklynite seven-weight world champion moved significantly closer last night when it was confirmed that Serrano will challenge New York neighbour Heather Hardy for the latter’s WBO World featherweight title at Madison Square Garden Theater on 13 September.
This will make for the long-awaited second fight of Serrano’s three-fight co-promotional agreement with Taylor’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, the final fight having always been contractually due to take place against Taylor at a later date.
As such, it’s one of three remaining obstacles out of the way, the others being Serrano’s financial demands — which exceed the purse that she and her team initially agreed to, but aren’t expected to be a major problem — and the fact that world champion Heather Hardy might beat Serrano before Taylor ever gets her mitts on her.
In which case, DiBella — who also promotes Hardy — has a backup plan.
“The winner of that fight — no matter who wins that fight — has a deal in place to fight Katie in the future,” he told The42. “Both women, Heather and Amanda, have agreements where they would fight Katie.”
As for when they would square off with Taylor, DiBella was somewhat more ambiguous: “Part of that is something to ask Katie and Brian, too! We’re not the only one that makes that decision. My guess is that if the fight happens, the earliest you would see it would be probably late this year, early next year.
“St Patrick’s Weekend has a nice ring to it,” he added.
I’ll tell you this: Amanda and Katie’s a superfight — it really is. I’ve never promoted a woman, or even seen a woman, with the punching power of Amanda pound-for-pound. She’s the biggest puncher I’ve ever seen in women’s boxing. And Katie’s probably the best pure boxer, but if you’re going to look at anything in Katie’s armour as an issue, she doesn’t have a lot of power. So that’s really a match-up of a boxer-puncher against a pure boxer. That’s a dream match-up.
DiBella was in Dublin for a press conference in which he confirmed the signing of Irish amateur great Joe Ward, but also for a break.
He is expected to spend some time this week with his friend of many years, Brian Peters, who manages Taylor and is understood to be interested in making a Taylor-Serrano bet with his old sparring partner in the boxing business.
“First of all”, DiBella grinned, “Brian’s always interested in putting a bet on! Whether it’s the horses, poker, or boxing, he’s always interested in putting a bet on.
“He and I go way back, and you can pretty much count on the fact that we’ll have a little wager.”
DiBella — and indeed any Serrano backer — can surely take confidence from Taylor’s toils in her last battle against Delfine Persoon, a slender victory over whom saw the Braywoman become one of the most disputed undisputed champions in recent history.
But as a longtime champion of the female code, the 59-year-old former TV executive is also simply excited to see women’s boxing — still in its formative stages, relatively speaking — becoming ‘a thing’.
And while Taylor’s rise on either side of the Atlantic has helped to lift all boats where that particular cultural shift is concerned, DiBella doesn’t believe the women’s game sits squarely on the prominent lightweight champion’s shoulders.
“Women’s boxing, in general, still has a long way to go,” he said. “There’ll always be an income gap, and men’s boxing is always going to be the dominant sport.
However, the talent pool in women’s boxing is growing for the first time in many, many years. There are four or five women who are literally in the conversation for pound-for-pound: Katie Taylor, Claressa Shields, Amanda Serrano, Cecilia [Braekhus]… There are some excellent, excellent fighters: you saw that fight with [Taylor and] Delfine Persoon — she can fight. Jessica McCaskill — there are women all over the place; there are women coming up in the States: Raquel Miller, Tiara Brown. You have women all over Europe now.
“The talent pool is way, way different than when I started in boxing 30 years ago. 30 years ago, women’s boxing was more of a fad.
“If you go to Gleason’s Gym in New York right now, there are as many women working out as there are men. And the quality of women’s boxing has risen.
I saw a fight that was on UFC Fight Pass the other night and it was Ronica Jeffrey against Eva Wahlstrom, and I was saying to myself: ‘This is good boxing.’ Like, forget about whether it’s women or men — both of those women knew how to fight. and I was sitting there going, ‘Wow.’ Like, to see a women’s fight of that skill level is really impressive, and you saw that kind of skill level in the Persoon-Katie fight. Obviously, Katie’s a better boxer, she’s more polished, but Delfine could fight.
“You’re seeing real quality stuff, now, among the women.
“I’m really excited about the Heather Hardy-Serrano fight. I mean, first of all, probably the biggest fight in the history of women’s boxing in the state of New York — no question. And one of the biggest female fights ever in America.
“I mean, that’s big stuff. Both of those women are stars to the extent that there are stars in women’s boxing right now.
“So I think that she (Taylor) is not an island. She’s a tremendous boxer, but as you saw with Persoon, she’s not undefeatable.”
Article courtesy of The 42
Photo courtesy of Joel Plummer