After last night’s nationally televised slugfest against Daniela Bermudez, which ended with the Argentinian challenger taking a ten-count while down on one knee, Amanda Serrano joked that she should consider changing her nickname to ‘The Body Snatcher.’
Newly coronated WBA minimumweight champion Seniesa Estrada was on hand to commentate on the main event bout for the NBC Sports Net broadcast and predicted that, if a stoppage were to occur, it would be Serrano inflicting the necessary damage. Less than 18 minutes later, her words manifested themselves into a beautiful yet brutal reality.
Make no mistake. Going into last night’s featherweight title fight, Bermudez posed a very credible threat to relieve Amanda Serrano of her WBC and WBO belts, not to mention end her nine-year, 25-fight unbeaten streak. But, in an awesome display proving why she stands side by side with Katie Taylor and Claressa Shields as the three best pound-for-pound female boxers in the fight game today, the powerful southpaw from Puerto Rico eliminated that threat in an outdoor ring at the Plaza del Quinto Centenario in San Juan last night.
Bermudez is a three-division world champion and current holder of the IBF super-bantamweight title who hadn’t tasted defeat in seven years herself, was testing her luck in the 126-pound class by moving up the scales to issue a challenge to Serrano’s featherweight supremacy. Coming into Thursday’s bout with just six blemishes on her 35-fight resume (3 defeats and an equal amount of draws), Bermudez had put away 10 of her 29 victims before the final bell. Bermudez and Serrano were so evenly matched on paper that an upset was certainly not out of the realm of possibility. But then the bell rang and Amanda Serrano, arguably the best female in the hurt business, went to work.
Both of the combatants being walk-forward pressure fighters who like to come out swinging, it was only natural that timing and counterpunching would both be critical components to the success of whoever would emerge victoriously. Bermudez prefers swarming her opponent behind a furious barrage of power punches but too often does so in a predictably straight-ahead trajectory with little in the way of head movement to protect against getting countered coming in. This played right into Serrano’s hands, quite literally.
Although she also loves to start fast and mix it up, Amanda executed a technically-sound game plan whereby she would use her right jab to not only establish distance and create offensive opportunities, but more often than not catch Bermudez in the process of recklessly trying to trespass upon her territory. Daniela was getting through with several straight rights, however, backing the champion up on two occasions in the first round.
Even if Serrano continued getting the better of their toe-to-toe exchanges, Bermudez landed a nice check hook over the top of a body shot thrown by Serrano, who was persistent in her work to the challenger’s midsection as the fight progressed. Amanda settled into as comfortable a rhythm as Bermudez would allow in the middle rounds, making expert use of her footwork to sneak inside and get off a succession of punches delivered from a variety of angles while also remaining alert defensively and countering nicely with her jab and check hooks. A Serrano left hand to the body just before the bell signaling the end of round six froze Bermudez in her tracks and was a harbinger of things to come.
Cautioned by her corner not to alter her stance to southpaw, Bermudez again tried her luck regardless in the eighth round and paid the price by eating a Serrano one/two combination while she made the switch. Amanda was in such complete control of the situation that she was not phased in the least by the removal of her trainer and brother-in-law Jordan Maldonado, who was escorted from her corner by security for verbally berating the referee who issued no warning to Bermudez for hitting Serrano after the bell.
The end came with less than thirty seconds remaining in the ninth and penultimate stanza when Serrano, during a heated exchange of head shots, unloaded a perfectly-placed left and right to the body of Bermudez who turned away, took a few steps back, and knelt down. While looking toward her corner and shaking her head, Daniela wore an obvious grimace of pain as the ten count was administered by referee Roberto Ramirez Jr.
This is a milestone victory for Amanda, as it marks career win number 40 as well as her 30th stoppage. Before she entertains the idea of going back to the negotiating table with Katie Taylor to potentially sign on the dotted line for the lucrative dream match that women’s boxing fans are delirious at the mere thought of, Serrano has made it her top priority to clean house in the featherweight division and collect the two remaining 126-pound belts, thus becoming the first ever undisputed champion of Puerto Rican descent.
To accomplish this, she will have to go through undefeated Danish IBF champion Sarah Mahfoud (10-0, 3 KOs), who defeated interim titlist Brenda Karen Carbajal last February and was elevated to world champion in July, and finally corner Jelena Mrdjenovich for a years-in-the-making unification fight. Mrdjenovich reclaimed the WBC and WBA world featherweight titles from Edith Soledad Matthysse in a 2016 rematch, but was stripped of the WBC belt in February (though promoted to Emeritus Champion status) by refusing a mandatory unification fight against Serrano.
In addition to retaining her WBC and WBO titles last night, Serrano added the vacant IBO strap to her growing collection.