Taylor stands tallest on a magical night at the Garden

‘The best night in my career,’ says champion after enthralling victory over Serrano

Despite the bruises and a cut on the left side of her head from which blood trickled down her face during the press conference over an hour after the fight, Katie Taylor remained the most chilled person in the room.

She had just added powers of recovery to her suite of talents after winning the biggest fight in women's boxing history and the most lucrative purse, a seven-figure sum. For that she and Amanda Serrano provided an intense and epic battle.

In a fifth-round assault, where the challenger to Taylor’s undisputed lightweight crown almost upended her plans, Taylor survived, regathered and returned to win, the final dramatic round a demonstration of bravery and heart as the pair, standing nose to nose in a dog fight and refusing to back off, brought the New York evening to a ferocious and probably mind-shifting climax.

"What you witnessed was one of the greatest fights I believe in the history of Madison Square Garden, " said promoter Eddie Hearn.


“Both women deserve so much credit and I think now, to be honest, is the night we stop talking about women’s and men’s boxing because that is one of the best fights I ever witnessed live.”

As the two boxers ended the final two minutes trying to eke out margins and leave a lasting impression with the judges, the sell-out crowd of 19,185 rose with them in The Garden, providing a wall of sound.

The fans, many of them families with children, also came to realise they were watching the two best pound for pound fighters in the world laying everything on the line.

There was a realisation they were there to win but to also forge a legacy and set the bar higher in women’s boxing than it has ever been before.

They were told it was history in the making. They had told everyone else it was history in the making. But few could have hoped that the 33-year-old Serrano and 35-year-old Taylor could have filled in the 10 unforgiving rounds with such courage and commitment.

Several times during the bout the noise was at such a fever pitch, neither the woman nor the referee appeared to hear the bell when it sounded between the two-minute rounds.

Split decision

But the three judges thought the bout was close too, with Taylor winning on a split decision, one judge giving the fight to Serrano 96-94 and the two others scoring it to Taylor 97-93, 96-93.

“The best night in my career for sure,” said Taylor. “I wasn’t sure if anything could reach my Olympic gold medal moment. Today was absolutely the best moment in my career. I had to dig deep in there tonight. I had to produce a career -defining performance to actually win tonight.

“A phenomenal fighter,” she said of Serrano. “We definitely got the best out of each other for sure. Everybody was talking coming into this fight that it was the biggest women’s fight in boxing history, but I think it succeeded everything that people were talking about this week.”

Taylor afterwards was easygoing and pragmatic and as her promoter Eddie Hearn dabbed blood from her cheek as she spoke, she turned and smiled.

“Thanks very much Eddie,” said Taylor in a ‘would you kindly stop babying me in front of everybody’ kind of way. But the bruising around her eyes and nose and that insistent red trickle told the story of the bout. Simply, it was the greatest physical challenge of her career.

Taylor, though, remained gutsy, claiming she was not hurt in the match-defining fifth round, which had the entire Garden on its feet and Taylor stuck in the corner with Serrano, sensing the advantage she had created, rained down blows with Taylor almost helpless.

“I don’t think I was as hurt as people may think,” said Taylor. “I wasn’t worried. I obviously knew that was a tough, tough round for me and I knew that was Amanda’s round. But I wasn’t concerned or anything.

“I was okay. I was stable coming back to the corner. I just had to regroup, reset and I actually won the round after that, so, yeah regardless of whether it was a tough round for me or not, I always come back and show the heart I need to actually come through.”

Some rest

She won the sixth round on two of the three judges' cards, a phenomenal reply to the brutal fifth. Inevitably talk quickly turned to a rematch. Taylor has never fought professionally in Ireland since joining the paid ranks after the Rio Olympics in 2016.

"Yeah, absolutely, a rematch would be absolutely phenomenal," said Hearn. "If it was in Dublin, we could sell out Croke Park. If you think the atmosphere was special here tonight, imagine the rematch in front of 80,000 people in Croke Park.

“Absolutely amazing. It was a tough fight. She is going to need some rest. Not too much rest knowing Katie. But it is certainly in the mind of us all.”

Disappointed about the result but also calculating the worth and potential attraction of a rematch in Ireland, Serrano's promoter, the 25-year-old YouTuber and boxer Jake Paul chimed in with Hearn.

“It was a draw at best. We thought Amanda won. It was the fight of a lifetime. Let’s run it back like Eddie said, September, October,” said Paul warming to part two taking place in Ireland. “The second fight just got a whole lot better.”