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Who will win the biggest female fight of all time? Katie Taylor v Amanda Serrano preview

Gavan Casey lays out where Saturday’s headline bout could be won and lost, with the latest William Hill odds.

KATIE TAYLOR DEFENDS her undisputed lightweight crown against seven-weight world champion Amanda Serrano in an era-defining clash on Saturday.

Ahead of the biggest female fight of all time, Gavan Casey previews the fight with the latest prices from William Hill.

What does Katie Taylor have left in the tank?

katie-taylor-and-amanda-serrano Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano. Source: Emily Harney/INPHO

While the Irish icon has catapulted herself into the global spotlight with her already legendary professional career, it’s worth noting that Katie Taylor had been boxing — and training ostensibly as a professional — for well over a decade when she decided to enter the punch-for-pay ranks in 2016.

Since her teens, Taylor has fought over 200 sanctioned, competitive bouts, 20 of them as a pro. Three of her seven most recent world-title bouts, against Delfine Persoon twice and against Natasha Jonas, have been truly gruelling 20-minute affairs. And in her last two bouts, versus Jennifer Han and Firuza Sharipova, Taylor has looked significantly below her best.

There are possible caveats to both of those relatively sloppy, forced-looking performances: Taylor has since revealed that she was dealing with a calf issue in both fights, and much of the blinding skill with which we associate her is predicated on sharp footwork which may have been inhibited in Leeds and Liverpool.

Furthermore, and with all due respect to them, who cares about Jennifer Han and Firuza Sharipova? These are two fine fighters but, for an elite one in Taylor with a lust for true competition, decidedly uninspiring opponents.

While the Bray woman has always insisted that she takes each opponent as seriously as the next and prepares accordingly, it would be only natural if, even subconsciously, she took her foot off the gas by a fraction against fighters who she knew she could beat even while being at only half her best.

katie-taylor-in-action-against-firuz-sharipova Taylor (right) taking on Firuza Sharipova back in December. Source: Paul Greenwood/INPHO

Still, there is a reason why, for the first time in the entirety of her boxing career, Katie Taylor is a bookies’ underdog for this fight.

The reality is that two decades’ worth of boxing — and not only 200-plus bouts but thousands of rounds of sparring and thousands of days in the gym — is bound to see a clean athlete enter a state of athletic decline in their mid-30s. The near consensus is that Taylor, 35, has reached that cliff’s edge. (Mind you, if Katie Taylor paid heed to consensus, we would have been robbed of one of the great Irish sporting careers).

William Hill odds: Amanda Serrano to win @ 10/13

Diffusing the bomb

eddie-hearn-katie-taylor-amanda-serrano-and-jake-paul Eddie Hearn with Taylor, Serrano and Jake Paul. Source: Emily Harney/INPHO

Puerto Rican-born and Brooklyn-reared, Amanda Serrano is only two years Taylor’s junior and has fought more than twice as many professional bouts as her Irish rival. She is, however, the fresher fighter on paper when you take into consideration that her 13-year professional career is essentially her full body of work in the ring.

Serrano is a human buzz-saw. She attacks relentlessly from her southpaw stance and boasts 30 stoppages from her 42 wins — albeit many of them against C-level opposition. Her claim as a seven-weight world champion, too, is by association a touch hollow: the majority of Serrano’s title wins have seen her batter comparable nobodies for vacant belts, serving little purpose other than adding to her Wikipedia entry.

What you won’t find in that Wikipedia entry is that Serrano, her older sister Cindy Serrano (a former Taylor opponent), and their trainer-manager Jordan Maldonado (also Cindy’s husband) were arrested for their role in a narcotics and steroids ring in New York in 2007. Maldonado, who had previously served time for a separate drugs charge, was jailed for a year for supplying steroids and other drugs to boxers and weightlifters, while Cindy Serrano received a suspended sentence.

Amanda Serrano, then 19, was also charged but her case never made it to court. She has in the past insisted to The42 that she is a clean athlete and that her ability to fluctuate seamlessly — both up and down — through seven divisions is a result of her trainer’s expertise in conditioning. Saturday night’s bout with Taylor has been subject to Vada (Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency) testing, as have all of Taylor’s bouts since 2019.

While 126 pounds — or featherweight — is probably her optimal weight, Serrano can still hit harder than Taylor at 135. It’s conceivable, too, that she has a better engine than Taylor over the 10-round distance based on recent evidence.

But the Puerto Rican, while extremely skilled in her own right, cannot box like Katie Taylor at or near her best — nobody can. And while it seems obvious, Taylor’s only chance to win this bout is to box as cleverly as she ever has done as a professional. 

tampa-florida-usa-18th-dec-2021-amanda-serrano-in-action-against-miriam-gutierrez-during-boxing-match-in-amalie-boxing-arena-at-tampa-florida-credit-yaroslav-sabitovyes-market-mediaalamy-liv Serrano (right) in action against Miriam Gutierrez. Source: Alamy Stock Photo

 Serrano can look ferocious in the opening half of bouts but, as we saw versus both Heather Hardy in a Brooklyn derby in 2019 and against former Taylor opponent Miriam Gutierrez in December just gone, her power tends to wane over the last five rounds against decent opposition.

That won’t happen on its own, though: Taylor will need Serrano to expend energy in order to partially tame her in the middle verses and shape the fight in her own favour. That’s not to suggest that the only way to take the sting out of Serrano’s tail is to get stung; but the first four or five rounds are going to be high-risk because Taylor will need to engage with her more dangerous opponent and, if that goes poorly, she will herself tire drastically down the stretch and might even get stopped. She needs to approach the first half like a bomb-disposal unit.

In order to do that in a boxing context, Taylor will need her legs. We will see what’s left in them on Saturday night. If she can roll back the years — even back only as far as 2020 — she can win the fight. If she closer resembles the Taylor we’ve seen over her last two bouts, she probably won’t.

William Hill odds: Katie Taylor to win @ 23/20

 William Hill odds above correct at the time of writing. New online customers get €30 in free bets when they bet €10 with William Hill. Just use the promo code H30. For all the latest prices, visit williamhill.com. 18+, always gamble responsibly. For more information, see gamblingtherapy.org    

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