While a handful of world champion male fighters may still bring in six or seven figure sums despite fighting only twice per year on one-sided TV bouts, women historically get a fraction of such fortune – if they’re lucky.
Puerto Rican pugilist Amanda Serrano is aiming to become a four-division world champion on Tuesday, October 18, and in doing so she would become the second female to ever accomplish the feat.
In fact, in a long list of legendary fighters from the island including Felix Trinidad, Hector Camacho and Wilfred Benitez, only one other Puerto Rican boxer has ever won world titles in four different weight classes: the legendary Miguel Cotto.
Serrano (29-1-1, 22 KO’s), like many women before her, has fallen far under the radar despite her spectacular career, which has seen her amass four world titles in three weight classes.
With a recent first-round KO win on the undercard of a Showtime card on July 30 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, Serrano’s star is undoubtedly rising, and she believes the state of female boxing has gotten better; albeit slightly.
“Heather Hardy broke down the door for females to fight at the Barclays and I ran right through those doors,” a drenched Serrano said after an extensive workout at Retro Fitness in Glendale. “She was the first female to fight on a PBC (Premier Boxing Champions) card and they put on a hell of a show. I’m pretty sure PBC and Al Haymon would put another female fight because of her. Little by little, we’re breaking barriers.
“They realized that girls can bring butts in the seats, we can sell tickets and we can show off,” Serrano added, “and look good doing it.”
Serrano, who had previously fought on the CBS Sports Network in May 2015 and on a PPV undercard in her second pro fight in 2009, candidly admits that the end game for her in women’s boxing could be in sight, because amidst all the dedication, victories and championships, she’s not getting much in return aside from that, and in boxing titles are simply that now – titles.
“After winning this title I want to accomplish my next goal, which is to be a five-division world champion, and then after that what do I do?,” she asked rhetorically. “Why continue to fight in boxing when they don’t love me back? You give everything, your all, but you’re not getting anything in return.”
Enter mixed martial arts.
Serrano, 28, has plenty of fight left, and like other former champion boxers like Holly Holm, she’s been preparing for an eventual debut in the octagon, competing in a sport where women are treated appreciably better than in boxing, in spite of recent progression.
If nothing else, we know some of the females who fight in the UFC. People who don’t watch MMA follow Ronda Rousey because Rousey has become the biggest star in UFC, even if she hasn’t fought in nearly a year.
Between Rousey, Holm, Miesha Tate, Paige VanZant, Cris Cyborg and others, the popularity of female fighters has been the backbone of how MMA does business, while simultaneously, female boxers, in large part, remain virtual unknowns.
“In MMA they respect females,” Serrano said. “They get paid well, they get great recognition. We don’t get paid much. I train people, but when it’s time to fight I have to cut them off because I have to concentrate on my training, then I lose money on that. And then when I fight, I lose money again.”
Serrano has already begun training to complete the transition, but says she has a lot to work on before the eventual day comes where the Puerto Rican knockout artist steps foot first into the octagon.
She works on her kicks two to three times a week to gain repetition despite her upcoming fight in the wings. Her goal is to eventually become a great all-around fighter, and not just the knockout artist she’s become in the squared circle.
“I just want to be great in anything I do,” she said smiling. “When I go into something, I give it my all, I give it 100 percent like I did in boxing. So far I’ve accomplished a lot in a short period of time. So I just want to be able to go in there with a clear mind and be able to be my best. I’m going to try it, and if it’s not for me then it’s not for me.”
A fighter at heart, Serrano’s been in the gym since she was about 12 years old, watching her older sister Cindy Serrano, an active fighter and former champion at two weights, train.
At 18 years old, having graduated high school, Serrano began training with her current longtime trainer and manager Jordan Maldonado in November of 2007
She signed up for a New York Golden Gloves tournament and subsequently lost in her first amateur bout, then proceeded to win eight straight before turning pro in March 2009, defeating five nationally ranked amateurs in the process.
Over seven years after her debut, with a potential career change coming, Serrano is hoping to build off her appearance on the July 30th Showtime undercard.
“The day of that press conference, [Showtime Executive] Stephen Espinoza said they were going to show my highlights on Showtime and Showtime Extreme, and I said ‘okay that’s good, I’m going to make sure my highlight is the whole fight,’” Serrano said with a laugh, before actually doing just that on fight night. “Steven spoke to Jordan my manager and said ‘you know we’d be really interested in putting her live on Showtime next year,’ so fingers crossed.”
Serrano’s attempt at history at the Caribe Hilton Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, will air live on DirecTV.
“When I come back, you’ll see me with my new baby!” a smiling Serrano proclaimed, exiting Retro Fitness.
Follow Bryan Fonseca on Twitter at @BryanFonsecaNY.