Irish boxer won a split-decision points victory over Puerto Rican at packed Madison Square Garden on Saturday
Katie Taylor will eye an Irish homecoming at Dublin’s Croke Park “in front of 80,000 fans” after emerging victorious from what she described as a “career-defining” performance in a split-decision points victory over Amanda Serrano.
The two female boxers produced a thrilling encounter on a historic night at Madison Square Garden on Saturday and the Irishwoman will now head back home targeting a rematch with the Puerto Rican, with Taylor’s promoter Eddie Hearn admitting that their sights are set on a duel at Dublin’s biggest stadium.
Taylor has never fought in Ireland in her 21-fight, six year career, but the time could now be perfect.
“Absolutely, a rematch would be phenomenal,” Taylor said. Promoter Hearn said that a homecoming was “of course” possible, adding that MSG “felt like Croke Park there tonight, it was absolutely incredible.”
Hearn added: “I think we should run this rematch back in Ireland, let Katie Taylor fight for the first time back in Croke Park in front of 80,000 fans. I’m not sure we will get as many travelling Puerto Ricans but it has always been on our minds and it would feel a big shame if she didn’t get to fight in Ireland during her career. If we could do that, back-end of the summer, we will do it. If we don’t go back to Ireland for a fight before her career is done, it will be a big, big shame.”
Styles make fights, and a Taylor-Serrano rematch would never be dull. The fighters earned million-dollar purses for this undisputed lightweight world championship – Serrano, the 33-year-old from Brooklyn who has won world titles in seven weight divisions, had revealed in fight week that she had been paid as little as $5,000 in recent fights – and if a sequel takes place in Ireland, Taylor’s earnings could be multiplied five times.
The fight and the event lived up to its billing of being a game changer, for women and for boxing as a sold out Madison Square Garden with just under 20,000 spectators created a gladiatorial atmosphere witnessing the No 1 and No 2 ranked fighters making history as the first women to headline in the 140-year history of the hallowed mecca in Manhattan.
The action was relentless, and only in the fifth round, trapped on the ropes and under relentless pressure from the challenger, did Taylor look vulnerable. The 35-year-old champion had to survive that torrid stanza, yet out she came in the sixth undaunted. Taylor won the early rounds by guile, movement and handspeed, and took the final two rounds strongly, as Serrano bulldozed forward in the middle rounds of the contest. The judges were split, Benoit Roussel scored the 10-round contest 96-94 to Serrano, with Taylor getting the victory by dint of the two other judges’ scores, Guido Cavalleri recording 97-93 and Glenn Feldman 96-93.
But it was not an easy fight to score. Telegraph Sport scored it 96-94 to Taylor, but the final moments of the fight, which brought the house down, will be etched in the memory as the two protagonists ferociously let their hands go at each other as if they were inside a phone box.
“I had to dig deep in there tonight,” Taylor said, her face heavily marked. “I had to produce a career defining performance to actually win. What an amazing champion Amanda is as well. A phenomenal fighter and we definitely got the best out of each other for sure.”
Jake Paul, Serrano’s promoter, believes the fight was a draw, and they should run it back. “100 per cent Amanda would fight in Ireland. She’s a true champion. We’re ready whenever, wherever,” said Paul. “Clearly, the Irish fans are mad. We’ve got some unsettled business. Like I said, that was a draw. Let’s run it back in Ireland. September, October, this fight just got a whole lot bigger.”
Hearn said that Serrano would be in the running for a rematch, but that there may be other opponents to consider. “It was just an amazing fight. It was just a thrilling fight. And I said before, the way that women’s boxing has longevity, and sustainability is for its quality,” Hearn said.
“Forget male or female, you just saw one of the greatest fights in the history of Madison Square Garden. I’m so proud of Katie Taylor. The greatest Irish athlete of all-time in my opinion. She’s such a humble individual, such a great role model.”
But for Taylor, this was a defining moment, after her long, slow walk to the fighting square. “Just even walking out to the ring, just looking at a packed stadium…unbelievable stuff. Absolutely special, special moments,” recalled the great pioneer for women’s boxing. “The best night of my career for sure. I wasn’t sure if anything could reach my Olympic gold-medal moment [in London in 2012] but this was absolutely the best moment of my career.”