NEW YORK– Last April in the main arena at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Amanda Serrano established history as the first female to main event a boxing card at the “Mecca.” The championship fight for the lightweight tiles sold out the arena.
Serrano would lose a thrilling 10-round split decision to Katie Taylor, the two females going punch-for-punch, a fight that many headlined as fight of the year, and a decision that could have gone either way.
The result, though, was Serrano making a statement. Female boxing had arrived and doubts about two females as the main event at Madison Square Garden were no more. Serrano, the pride of San Juan Puerto Rico and Brooklyn, NY, would proudly salute the capacity crowd of supporters and many from Puerto Rico that reside in New York City.
Then Jake Paul, the YouTube sensation and turned boxing pro, co-promoter with Matchroom Boxing, took Serrano under his wing. Matchroom Boxing and DAZN, the streaming network were confident that Amanda Serrano would be a sell and there was every reason to see her highlight another event at the Garden.
Saturday evening, Serrano will main event again at the Garden, Matchroom and DAZN to televise, though in the adjacent 5,500 seat Hulu Theatre, different but still a loud and rapid crowd that would be seen in the main arena. Had the main arena not been booked, Serrano would probably, and again had sold out the big room.
Regardless, Serrano is ready and prepared to oppose Erika Cruz for the undisputed World Featherweight title and four other female fights are on the card that includes Alycia Baumgardner opposing Elhem Mekhaled for the undisputed featherweight title.
“The confidence that I went in there with one of the best, the confidence that the arena was jam-packed, the crowd was just amazing,” Serrano said Thursday afternoon about that evening she met Taylor. “ So, no matter where they put me, I’m going to be 100% confident. I love the Hulu Theater, it’s my home. I’d rather fight in the Hulu Theater because the fans are right there with you. It’s so intimate and the fans are going to be celebrating with me that night.”
Cruz is a tough Mexican fighter and there surely there will be another slugfest as they go toe-to-toe. Serrano is aware of what awaits here in the ring Saturday night. Rest assured, also, Serrano has had that special impact for female fighters now getting the deserved recognition after years of being relatively unknown as their male counterparts got the attention and spotlight.
Boxing Season Heats Up: Two major boxing events this weekend, beginning Friday evening with a Top Rank Boxing ESPN and ESPN Plus televised card from Glendale, Arizona and the Serrano fight. Usually a dull time for the sport, due to giving away to the NFL and Super Bowl, but the boxing season is heating up.
Soon, as I always say, it will be boxing season as promoters and the networks fill in the dates for some of the superstars of the sport. Still in the balance, though contracts have been delivered and not signed, a anticipated April 15 mega fight for supremacy, the young and undefeated Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia.
Friday evening, the main event is a battle for the vacant WBO junior lightweight world title, as Emanuel “Vaquero” Navarrete (San Juan Zitlatepicm, Distrito, Federal, Mexico) (36-1, 30 KOs) seeks to become a three-weight world champion against Australian upstart Liam Wilson (11-1, 7 KOs).
The 10-round junior welterweight co-feature sees former two-weight world champion Jose “Sniper” Pedraza (Cidra, Puerto Rico) (29-4-1, 14 KOs) attempt to end the unbeaten run of top contender Arnold Barboza Jr. (27-0, 10 KOs). In the ESPN-televised opener, heavyweight U.S. Olympic silver medalist Richard Torrez Jr. (4-0, 4 KOs) battles James Bryant (6-2, 4 KOs) in a six-rounder.
Navarrete-Wilson, Barboza-Pedraza, and Torrez-Bryant will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 10 p.m ET/7 p.m. PT. The undercard, streaming live and exclusively on ESPN+ at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT, features middleweight prospect Nico Ali Walsh (7-0, 5 KOs) against Phoenix native Eduardo Ayala (9-2-1, 3 KOs) in a six-rounder and lightweight phenom Emiliano Fernando Vargas (2-0, 2 KOs) against Francisco Duque (1-1) in a four-rounder….
Benavidez And Plant Begin The Heat: Their significant 12-round super middleweight fight presented by the PBC, is scheduled for Saturday March 25, Showtime Pay-Per-View, from the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, but David Benavidez and Caleb Plant Thursday afternoon wished they could trade punches tomorrow. Both were in fighting mode at the initial press conference in Los Angeles.
A lot is at stake here because Benavidez, the number one contender, is in line to finally meet unified champion Canelo Alvarez. Plant, who lost the unified titles to Alvarez, has been looking for a return. But all of that is in the balance and based on what is expected to be one of those anticipated fights of the year.
And there is that so-called and bitter feud with the two, intensified because of a back-and -forth social media war of words on who is better. There has been the usual trash talk that almost got the two fighters trending punches at the presser. And Benavidez is now known as “The Mexican Monster”
“On March 25, I guarantee that I’m knocking Caleb Plant out before round six,” Benavidez said. Uncalled for, though, when Banavidez said, “I’m going to put his ass in the hospital.”
Thing is, this fight needs no hype. Both fighters have previously been here on the big stage and at top of their division and Benavidez, undefeated, is a former two-time WBC Super Middleweight Champion
Puerto Rican Luis Rodriguez Wins WBA Continental Americas Super Middleweight Title: Luis Rodriguez, is perfect 11 wins in 11 fights with 11 stoppages, and won the World Boxing Association Continental Americas Super Middleweight title with a second-round knockout against Encarnacion “Demoledor” Diaz on Saturday, January 28 at Los Andes Mall, Panama City, Panama.
Rodriguez knocked Diaz down in round two with a left hook, then delivered a flurry of punches that dropped him a second time. Diaz could not recover while referee Guillermo Perez Pineda counted to ten and the fight was called at 3:00 of round two. The bout was scheduled for ten rounds.
Rodriguez (11-0, 11 KOs) from Tao Alto, Puerto Rico, whose team includes renowned boxing attorney Tony Gonzalez and promoter, Rivalta Boxing, made his pro debut on June 11, 2021. His knockouts have come in rounds 2, 1, 4, 1, 2, 2, 1, 4, 3, and now 2 respectively.
“This was a phenomenal opportunity and I made sure to take full advantage of it,” said Rodriguez. “I only want to fight the best and am here to stay. I will continue to work hard and stay fight ready for my next step. If all goes well, Puerto Rico will soon be celebrating a new world champion in 2023.”
Encarnacion Diaz (15-3, 9 KOs) from San Jose, Costa Rico, entered Saturday on a three-fight win streak including two by knockout and one by decisive unanimous decision win.
“I want to thank my team for getting me this opportunity to start 2023 strong,” said Luis. “When-not if- I beat Diaz this weekend, I want to fight the best super middleweights and make my name known as one of the best in the division. It is my time and time for young blood to carry this division and this sport. I fight for my family and to make all of Puerto Rico proud.”
Rodriguez’s advisor, Attorney Tony Gonzalez stated “This kid is the full package. He can box, slug and end the fight with one punch with either hand. We are planning to have Luis defend the title in Miami in March.”
Rich Mancuso is co-editor and senior writer @Latinosports.com Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso. Watch “Sports With Rich” with Rich and co-host Robert Rizzo Tuesday evening live 8pmET on the SLG Network and YouTube
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