Taylor vs Serrano: Big Fight Preview & Prediction

Taylor vs Serrano: Big Fight Preview & Prediction

It should have happened long before now, but finally, the money has been found to satisfy and we have a true moment in time. Jake Paul hasn’t saved boxing. Well not yet, but he has almost certainly saved this fight.

It’s a much bigger fight now, it’s a better fight now. For once, boxing has found a way. The right way. The best versus the best. A fight where nobody can confidently predict who will win. That in itself is a novelty.

Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano will trade blows in the historic iconic Madison Square Garden in a headlining showcase for all things undisputed and much more. The importance of the fight shouldn’t be lost, women’s boxing has often suffered in comparison to the men’s side of the sport. The Garden has been around in various forms for 140 years, Taylor and Serrano are the first female fighters to headline there. It might not be Ali Frazier, but it’s close enough in different ways. And that’s progress.

The struggle has been long and hard. Apathy, indifference, court cases to even be allowed to trade leather in a sport that has been male-dominated for far too long. Jane Couch suffered more than most to make the establishment change its prehistoric views. We should remember her on nights like this.

Taylor and Serrano have fought 64 times between them, only one defeat on their combined resume highlights perfectly what we have tonight. It’s special. Really special. For Taylor, it’s the finishing touch to her legacy. For Serrano, it makes hers. A legacy fight if ever there was one.

The unbeaten Taylor is the reason why women’s boxing has such a prominent place in a sport that didn’t seem to want to accept there was something different waiting to get in. Taylor turned pro, a big moment, her contemporaries suddenly had hope. She opened many doors. Probably every door. Taylor has been a trailblazer for much of her career, she helped greatly in getting women to be allowed to box in the Olympics in 2012. She has salvaged many things. History will be kind to her.

Taylor has come from humble beginnings and she often looks uncomfortable in the bright lights of the frenzied media world. Inside the ring is where Taylor feels at home. But this week Taylor has found some semblance of comfort with the endless grind of promoting a fight of this importance. Taylor finally seems at ease in such surroundings.

“This fight on Saturday night is going to inspire a lot of young girls and that to me is the best part about this.” Taylor appreciates the moment. What she has helped create.

But Serrano shouldn’t be forgotten in the dance for the ages. She’s gone through the weights, world titles from 115lbs to 140lbs, she’s even dabbled in MMA. Her life struggles for many things have been well documented in the build-up to the biggest fight in women’s boxing history. Serrano has been in the shadows, fighting for meagre purses away from the spotlight, tonight, everything changes for her. With a win, it will get better still. Much better.

It might be Ireland against Puerto Rico and champion versus champion, but the fight carries far more significance than that. Even the undisputed world lightweight titles which both fighters will do battle for in New York probably pale into insignificance to what the fight means on a much larger global scale.

We now have something approaching equality, the position at the top of the card, and the seven-figure fight purses both will take home. Make no mistake, this is the most important moment in women’s boxing history.

But in a sport where platitudes are often meaningless and worthless, the 50/50 fight label this time is correct. An actual fact in a sport of fiction. Taylor faces an opponent who is favoured to beat her. Serrano might not only beat her, she might stop her. The odds are close, and the fight really is too close to call.

Serrano brings a southpaw stance with power in her fists and the kind of style Taylor has struggled with previously. Trust me, Taylor is in real danger of losing. In recent times the undisputed lightweight champion has looked beatable. Two uninspiring performances of late and before that, the two fights with Delfine Persoon and the renewed rivalry with Natasha Jonas have given much credence to the narrative that Taylor at 35, is slipping. Persoon and Jonas each came agonisingly close to inflicting the first blemish on the record of Taylor.

A slow start cost Jonas last May, even then a draw wouldn’t have flattered her, and Persoon can count herself desperately unlucky not to have got at least some reward in her two fights with the Irish superstar. At this stage in her career, Taylor is far from unbeatable and Serrano could just be in the right place at the right time.

But Taylor shouldn’t be written off. Jonas is an exceptional talent in her own right and Persoon just has that suffocating style that would make any fighter have a highly uncomfortable night with her.

The fight last December against Firuza Sharipova was a little more alarming, but Taylor deserves the benefit of the doubt. At this stage in her career, Taylor probably needs a real challenge to bring out the best in her. In Serrano, she has that challenge and more. On her biggest night, Taylor looks ready for the fight of her life. All the doubts, the stage and the real threat the opponent carries seem to have given Taylor the edge she will undoubtedly need.

But Serrano has a real chance of leaving New York with a famous victory. Even the very best Taylor has to offer might not be good enough.

Serrano 33, a natural featherweight hasn’t lost since 2012, the year Taylor was winning Gold in London. The multi-weight world champion poses a real danger and if she can walk through Taylor’s punches, Serrano will win.

But beating Taylor is easier said than done. Taylor is the fighter who has the faster hands and feet, and Serrano will likely find it hard to get close to her, certainly in the crucial early rounds. But how hard will Taylor have to work in those early stages could be her undoing in the closing rounds? Serrano will make her work for everything. Taylor might not be able to stay with her.

The start will be crucial, whoever gets going the quicker will probably win. Taylor especially, you feel needs that good start. If she rattles off the first few rounds, with minimum effort and discomfort she will take some catching on the cards. But if Serrano starts the way she did against Heather Hardy, Taylor’s chances might already have gone.

Sometimes you make a prediction and you have zero confidence in what you write. This is that kind of fight. Taylor has to find something she hasn’t shown in her recent fights, and that still might not be good enough. But I believe she will rise to another level, there is something different about her this week, an edge and spite in her demeanour. The fight will be long, hard, and disputed enough to justify them going again. With little conviction, I believe Taylor will scrape home in a fight that will delight and reinforce why the two fighters have been given such a platform.

Boxing has suffered of late with links to an unsavoury world, but this fight has been anything but. Clean and free from the dark clouds that hung over last weekend’s heavyweight blockbuster this fight week has been a refreshing change. Taylor and Serrano almost certainly will rematch later this year, and now things appear to have opened up in many ways, it would be fitting if next time they get to do their thing on Irish soil. Croke Park in Dublin would be the perfect emotional finale to a truly remarkable career. Taylor deserves that moment, boxing needs it. And badly.

Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom

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