Katie Taylor retained her undisputed lightweight world championship on Saturday, with a split-decision victory over Amanda Serrano on a historic night in Madison Square Garden in front of a raucous sellout crowd.
The Irishwoman, who stretched her unbeaten professional record to 21-0, and Serrano were the first women to headline a fight at the world’s most famous arena and put on a show-stopping performance equal to the occasion.
Swinging wildly with everything she had in the final rounds, Taylor was egged on with chants of ‘Katie, Katie, Katie,’ and the packed stands erupted in utter joy as the fight 140 years in the making went to the Irish sporting legend.
“I knew going into it I was going to be in the trenches at some stage,” said Taylor. “She’s a phenomenal fighter, a great, great person, and I had the heart and the skill and I knew I was going to be able to come through.”
Taylor kept the fight on the outside to begin with before deciding to stand and trade in the fourth and fifth, and she almost paid dearly for the decision as Serrano connected.
Her legs were still wobbling well into the sixth round, but she managed to dig deep and get back on the outside, picking off the challenger and scoring with simple combinations.
Taylor went all-out for the finish in the final round, punching maniacally as the final bell approached, but by then the work was done and the judges convinced that Taylor’s hand was the one that deserved to be raised after an epic encounter.
“Katie’s a great champion,” said Serrano. “I’m truly honoured to have shared a ring with you.”
Competing under the watchful eye of pioneering Hall of Famer Christy Martin in the biggest fight in the history of women’s boxing, the meeting between the two best pound-for-pound boxers ushered in a new era for the sport.
The famed boxing venue had played host to luminaries such as Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, but had never seen two women headline before, and the event set the Big Apple buzzing to its core.