Ireland’s Katie Taylor has beaten Amanda Serrano in the biggest-ever fight in women’s boxing history.
The undisputed lightweight champion won by split decision after going all 10 rounds with the Puerto Rican boxer, during the first women’s bout to headline New York’s Madison Square Garden.
After a difficult number of rounds, which saw Taylor stumble on some occasions, she managed to claw it back with an impressive battle in the final few.
Serrano, a nine-time world champion in seven weight categories, was on top after the middle rounds landing some powerful punches and leaving Taylor with a bloody nose, but failed to secure a victory.
The judge’s final score cards read 96/94 to Serrano, 97/93 to Taylor, and 96/93 to Taylor.
It was arguably the toughest test of Taylor’s career but she extended her unbeaten record to 21 wins from as many fights, keeping hold of her WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO titles.
Speaking after the fight, the 35-year-old champion seemed to confirm her willingness to take part in a rematch.
“Let’s do it again Amanda,” she said.
Her promoter, Eddie Hearn, backed this up, saying he could “see a big rematch later in the year”.
He suggested the pair should fight in Ireland to give Taylor the chance to appear at Dublin’s Croke Park for the first time in her career.
Mr Hearn, who also represents the likes of Dillian Whyte, Anthony Joshua, and Oleksandr Usyk, went on to describe the event as “one of the greatest fights in the history of Madison Square Garden”.
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Taylor also took a moment to acknowledge her competitor, saying: “What a fighter Amanda Serrano is.
“I think we are both winners here tonight – look at what we have both done – sold out Madison Square Garden.
“The biggest fight in female boxing history and both of us have broken so many barriers over our whole careers.”
On Twitter, Serrano said she “didn’t get the decision” but believed she “fought a great fight”.
“I’m happy we made women’s boxing look great tonight. Now I go and start spending some of this money,” she added.
Being greeted by boos from around the crowd, the 33-year-old’s promotor Jake Paul said she would “absolutely” be willing to fly to Ireland for a rematch as he expressed his disappointment at the result.
Analysis by Jacqueline Beltrao, sports presenter
As if Katie Taylor could be any more loved or revered, she produced the comeback of her life, in the fight of her life, to build her legend just a little more and to further the cause of women’s boxing and its place in the sport considerably more.
The still undisputed, undefeated lightweight champion of the world and pride of Ireland was truly rocked by the fearsome punching of Amanda Serrano.
The raucous, Madison Square Garden crowd had come to see a “war” and a “war” is exactly what they got.
This fight lived up to the hype and more. Was it one of the greatest boxing nights at the Garden in recent years? Yes it was. These women delivered.
But this could so easily have been Taylor’s first professional defeat as Serrano’s notorious punching power took its toll in the middle rounds.
In round five the Puerto Rican southpaw seized the moment, hurting Taylor with a flurry of punches.
It was brutal and the champion was dazed as Serrano was completely in control. In round six there was plenty more punishment for Taylor, who had a bloody eye and nose but she somehow didn’t go down.
Rocked and in distress Taylor showed why she’s the champion with great composure under pressure to somehow regroup and get herself back into the fight, picking off her tiring opponent in the later rounds.
The judges were split – two of them gave it to Taylor but it could barely have been closer. Serrano’s promoter, Jake Paul, immediately tweeted “robbed”, but the gutsy performance of both sets up the inevitable rematch beautifully – Taylor says as much while she’s still in the ring.
Both walk away with a seven figure cheque, the biggest payday in women’s boxing. It’s a far cry from the days when female world champions could barely cover their expenses.
The good news is they get to do it all again at the end of the year with Bray’s most celebrated celebrity perhaps defending those four glittering belts on Irish soil.
“It was a draw at best, we thought we won,” he said. “Amanda performed amazing, it was the fight of a lifetime.”
“The crowd is booing but everyone is a winner here tonight,” he added.
“Let’s run it back like Eddie said September, October, the second fight just got a whole lot bigger.”