The three greatest boxing matches held at Madison Square Garden in New York? Perhaps the last fight in Joe Louis’ career, in 1951, against Rocky Marciano, Louis lost by knockout in the eighth round. Perhaps Anthony Joshua’s first fight against Andy Ruiz, 2019 – Ruiz, the chubby 1-25 underdog, won by knockout in the seventh round. Sure enough, the first duel between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, 1971, Frazier won by points – the battle was so huge that even the great Frank Sinatra could only be there by being certified as a photographer; The battle is battle of the century.
The list can be discussed for hours, depending on your preference, you can mention other duels. Roberto Duran vs. Davy Moore, 1983, Duran was with him manu de pedra, his hand made of stone, is so superior that not only did he win by knockout in the eighth round, but before that, Moore’s mother and girlfriend fainted. Riddick Boe vs. Andrew Golota, 1996, Golota disqualifies after low kicks in the seventh round; After the demolition, there was a mass brawl in the arena, 15 spectators, nine police officers and one of the Golota team had to go to the hospital, 16 people were arrested. Lennox Lewis vs. Evander Holyfield, 1999, heavyweight unification match; Lewis dominated, but the stewards still saw a tie – despite the lack of a mass brawl, 21,000 spectators whistled and booed.
But what may be hard to find, even in the hours of debate over unforgettable boxing nights at Madison Square Garden, is a women’s championship fight. It may be because women are never allowed to compete in a major battle in the famous arena. Which, in turn, could be because of all the tough people (read: men) in boxing, none of them were interested in women’s boxing until recently. Wilfried Sauerland, one of Europe’s most important promoters, once swore: “Women will never be part of my programme.”
On Saturday, Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano battle it out at Madison Square Garden, it’s the main fight, announced with a simple slogan: for history. It is not as great as it seems at first glance. In the history of women’s boxing, only the beginnings are written.
Regina Halmich and Leila Ali have attracted an audience of millions in front of their television sets. But they lacked serious athletic competition
Over the past three decades, there have always been women who have successfully boxed, successfully marketed themselves, successfully fought themselves and sported a niche. In Germany and especially Regina Halmich who watched (and humiliated) millions of viewers on the screens, and not only when she competed against (and humiliated) TV artist Stefan Rapp. In the United States, Laila Ali, daughter of Muhammad. But like all other talented boxers at the turn of the millennium, they both lacked a serious competitor to be remembered not only as a name or brand, but also for a major fight. Which is why the duel between Irish Taylor and Puerto Rican Serrano is actually one for historyfor the story.
Taylor, 35, is the big four world lightweight champ. As only the third woman to collect the most important titles in the weight category. She was an amateur Olympic champion, winning five gold medals at the World Championships and six medals at the European Championships. She doesn’t have the hardest punch, but she hits explosively, repeatedly and accurately, sometimes with a humorless punch, sometimes with a quick right hand, sometimes with a left hook. If she is pressured by the opponent, she reacts with her counter strikes, making her more effective than any other boxer. Taylor lives for her sport, and she works out no frills, she just wants: to box well. “When people watch me in the box, I hope they see a boxer, not a boxer,” she told boxing author Thomas Hauser last year. “I would like to take this sport to the next level and develop women’s boxing in general in a way that people will respect.”
Your most important step on this path is to fight against Serrano. The 33-year-old became the world champion in seven weight classes, and no one before her could achieve this, neither a boxer nor a boxer. “She has crazy influence,” says Austrian Eva Voraberger, against whom Serrano won the 2019 world title in the seventh, super flyweight class. The fight took place in Madison Square Garden, in the opening class, and is unlikely to be remembered by the general public: Cyrano won by knockout in the first round. “It hits the spot, from any distance, and especially from the body,” Foraberger says.
The Austrian also remembers how well the Serrano could play with weight: at their own weight, both of them weighed 52 kilograms, and after a day in the ring, the Austrian gained two kilograms – nine Serrano, mainly through controlled emptying and filling of the water tank in the body. “It felt like I had hit a stone,” Voraberger says. So she prefers Serrano Saturday – even if Taylor and Serrano’s box is lightweight (up to 60kg). But whatever the outcome, Voraberger says, “This is the fight everyone wants in boxing, and that’s going to happen is the best advertisement for women’s boxing.”
German Nina Menke says there is only one country “a little behind in women’s boxing”: Germany
The fact that Taylor meets Cyrano is also due to the fact that women’s boxing is now taken very seriously in England and the United States, just as Taylor would like. There are almost no fight evenings without a duel between two boxers. “It’s mainly thanks to Katie, because she’s really an icon,” says Nina Minke, who lost to Taylor at Wembley in 2017. “They have given the sport a real boost.” Because she does not focus on the show, but on the sport, because she simply wants to box well. It is followed by more and more women who: simply can box well. Above all, the American Clarissa Shields, who in March 2021 combined the four main titles in two weight classes at the same time, a record for women – and for men.
Even the biggest macho in the industry are now realizing the potential of boxers. Taylor is marketed by Britain’s Eddie Hearn, and is currently the industry’s most successful promoter. Cyrano is written by former YouTuber Jake Paul, who now plays as a pro, much to the chagrin of many in boxing. Paul wanted to make money from boxing, and he realized that boxing could help him with this, provided that you fight in a way that people will remember.
One country, Nina Minke says, is still “a little bit late”. Stupidly for Berlin, this is Germany. On Thursday of the week, for example, Minky fought against Denmark’s Sarah Mahfouz for the world featherweight title. She found it a “shame” that the fight could not be brought to Germany or broadcast on any channel. She lost the Battle of Mahfouz in Copenhagen on points. But the 29-year-old is just beginning the fight to finally get women’s boxing out of its place in Germany.