Serrano Defeats Cruz In Bloody Slugfest To Win Undisputed Crown
In a blood-soaked, toe-to-toe battle and early women’s fight of the year contender, Amanda Serrano outpointed Erika Cruz to become the undisputed women’s featherweight champion in the main event of the Matchroom Boxing card on DAZN on Saturday night at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.
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“A long journey. I’m just so emotional,” a jubilant Serrano said. “I finally did it for my island (of Puerto Rico).
“I have successfully completed all of my dreams, becoming the undisputed champion. So, now I am one of the undisputed champions but I am still the only seven weight-class (women’s) world champion”
Serrano retained the WBO, WBA and IBF titles and took Cruz’s WBC belt and next will have a second chance to become the undisputed lightweight champion.
Immediately after the victory, Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, with Serrano and undisputed lightweight champion Katie Taylor flanking him, announced in the ring that a rematch between two of the pound-for-pound best was signed, sealed and delivered for May 20 (DAZN) at a venue to be determined in Taylor’s home country of Ireland, where she is a mega star.
First, however, Serrano had to deal with Cruz, which was no easy task despite the lopsided scores of 98-92, 98-92 and 97-93.
Cruz won the first two rounds on two scorecards and it was even on the third but the fight changed dramatically late in the third round when a brutal accidental head butt ripped open a cut on Cruz’s forehead/hairline. Blood poured down her face for the rest of the fight.
Serrano also suffered a cut at some point during the bout in the corner of her right eye, making for one of the bloodiest fights in years. They spilled so much blood that the white DAZN logo in the center of the ring was covered in red.
Whenever Serrano would land a clean punch, Cruz’s blood would fly. But she was undeterred by the mask of blood and fought her heart out with nonstop punching.
“She’s a Mexican champion and we knew that from the very beginning,” Serrano said. “I knew she wasn’t just going to let me take her belt. She worked hard for this, I worked hard for this. That’s what we expected. That’s what we trained for. We didn’t expect anything less than that.
“I’m glad it went past the fourth (to avoid a technical decision had the fight been stopped due to the cut).”
Referee Ricky Gonzalez called timeouts before the sixth and ninth rounds to have the ringside doctor examine Cruz’s wound but the fight was allowed to continue.
Serrano (44-2-1, 30 KOs), 34, who is Puerto Rico-born and fights out of Brooklyn, New York, hurt fellow southpaw Cruz with a left hand late in the sixth round and dished out considerable punishment. Cruz (15-2, 3 KOs), 32, of Mexico, who had not lost a since a four-round majority decision in her second fight in 2016, was on shaky legs but persevered and even had a brief rally near the end of the round.
“(Trainer) Jordan (Maldonado) kept screaming 1-2, 1-2’s from the corner – go back to the basics,” Serrano said. “My left hand was catching her pretty clear and the jabs. So, I just listen to my corner.”
In the later rounds Serrano and Cruz didn’t even pretend to use defense. It was simply a grinding, smash-mouth battle of attrition with massive amounts of blood all over them.
Cruz continually pawed at the cut but pushed through it as they closed the fight by brawling though the 10th round.
Serrano Taylor II is now official
Minutes after the fight, a video montage played and Hearn announced the rematch with Taylor. Last April, they met in the main arena at Madison Square Garden as the first female main event at the storied arena as Serrano moved up two divisions to challenge Taylor.
They put on an epic battle for the ages, which Taylor won by disputed split decision. They talked about an immediate rematch but instead Serrano took two interim fights and Taylor one. Now they’ll meet again.
“It’s going to be a bigger and better fight over there (in Ireland),” Serrano said. “We have some unfinished business, Katie.”
The fight will mark the first time in the four-belt era that two reigning undisputed champions will face each other.
“I was cheering her on because I want this fight. Undisputed versus undisputed champion,” Taylor said. “The last fight was an epic fight and I think the next one is going to be exactly the same. It’s going to be great in Ireland fighting the real deal, Amanda Serrano. This is incredible and the last fight was epic and I expect nothing less from the next one.
“This is still the biggest fight in women’s boxing and I only want to do the biggest fights. This is exactly what I want.”
It is what Serrano wants also.
“Katie is a true champion. She came here to New York (in April) Now she deserves to fight in Ireland and it will be a bigger and better fight over there,” Serrano said. “(The loss) didn’t bother me too much. Of course, you want to win. But I learned a lot and now I know what I need to do.”