You will get an argument from no one that 2020 has been an absolute shit show. Consistent with the unending barrage of letdowns this year has produced, Katie Taylor’s hotly-anticipated August 22 undisputed lightweight title defense against Amanda Serrano, the seven-division world champion who boasts a 70% KO ratio along with only one loss in forty career fights, is officially not happening. The news was broken by Serrano’s promoter Lou DiBella, who stated defiantly on her behalf that Amanda is not comfortable flying commercially amidst a global pandemic, nor has she been able to train properly due to the closure of public gyms.
Although Taylor had countered the latter part of DiBella’s complaint with one of her own in a similar regard, it is safe to assume while playing Devil’s advocate that Katie, who has been stateside this entire time, has had more or less free access to the Vernon, Connecticut training facility owned and operated by her coach, Ross Enamait, where she has conducted all of her camps since turning pro in 2016. That said, she too will have to travel to the UK for her bout which prompted DiBella to question, in a moment of counter-productive wishful thinking, why the fight couldn’t be held over here instead of in Eddie Hearn’s actual backyard.
This is all academic now, as Taylor/Serrano is off following weeks of antagonistic Twitter posts and YouTube videos wherein the various parties exchanged verbal blows that ended the matter in anti-climactic fashion. Hearn has since demanded the return of $10,000 in training expenses that Matchroom had paid Serrano, as well as threatening to pull the plug on the idea of Serrano fighting Taylor at any point in the future.
Heather ‘The Heat’ Hardy, who was dealt her first career loss by Serrano in an October 2018 bout wherein they were squabbling over the vacant WBO featherweight title previously held by Amanda’s sister Cindy, had the potential to play the role of spoiler seeing as though the winner of that scrap would additionally be awarded the right to oppose Katie Taylor. In a recent social media post, Heather eagerly claimed that this entitled her to second place in line behind Serrano to face Taylor on August 22 should Amanda decline the opportunity. The Brooklyn-based Hardy had been mentioned as a potential opponent for Taylor on the Irish phenom’s return trip to the Barclays Center, but nothing materialized from the talks back then and it seems highly likely that this too shall pass for Heather not with a bang but with a whimper, to borrow a phrase from T.S. Eliot.
Katie’s WBC mandatory challenger, undefeated Chantelle Cameron, also expressed her desire to take the fight in Serrano’s stead, and promised a knockout of Taylor in the bargain, with no further word having been issued from Cameron’s representatives or Matchroom Boxing on the subject. Former WBC lightweight titleholder Delfine Persoon, who lost a controversial decision to Taylor (and her green and gold belt in the process) in their June 2019 unification fight at Madison Square Garden, has been considered the logical step-up replacement for Serrano from the get-go with the pre-fight hype practically writing itself given the disputed outcome of their first clash. No sooner did Persoon exit the ring in tears without bothering with the formality of congratulating Taylor than cries of foul play and demands for a rematch were shouted from all corners of the Garden, quickly echoing throughout the entire boxing community.
Persoon’s partner, manager, and trainer Filiep Tampere confirmed that three offers have been made to Delfine to get her to resume hostilities with Katie Taylor on August 22. Despite having apparently reached a deal, their discussions with Eddie Hearn, who Tampere somewhat generously describes as “a very difficult man to deal with,” appear to have taken a sudden turn for the worse. So bad, in fact, that Tampere insists that Persoon has said that “enough is enough” and that Katie needs the fight more than she does, effectively upending the negotiating table on their way out the door and once again leaving Taylor without a contracted opponent. Independent.ie has reported that Tampere told them definitively, “Delfine will not be fighting Katie Taylor.”
Assuming all is lost with regard to Persoon, this leaves Miriam Gutierrez as the rightful candidate to face Taylor next month. 13-0 with 5 KOs, Gutierrez won the WBA interim lightweight title last November by outpointing Keren Batiz to become Katie’s mandatory challenger ahead of all others. The plot thickened when Miriam revealed that she had evidently reached a mutually beneficial agreement with Matchroom Boxing whereby she consented to step aside only in the event that Taylor were to secure a fight against Amanda Serrano or sign for the rematch with Delfine Persoon.
WBA president Gilberto Mendoza confirmed this arrangement but, inspired by the de-escalation involving Katie Taylor’s conflicts with Amanda Serrano and Delfine Persoon, is now strongly urging that Taylor defend her collection of title belts against Gutierrez in a showdown that he termed “overdue.”
This messy affair has turned into quite the soap opera and, like any dramatic storyline that drags along unresolved for too long, the greater the risk will be of diminishing the interest of viewers willing to buy into it, literally and figuratively, as the fight game continues to spiral into the blame game.