It was billed as a gamechanger, the “biggest night in the history of women’s boxing”, said Bryan Armen Graham in The Guardian. And for once, the “breathless hype” was justified. On Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano – long regarded as the two finest female boxers in the world – faced off for the first time and produced an “unforgettable encounter”.
This was a history-making bout in more ways than one, said Gareth A. Davies in The Daily Telegraph: it was the first time two women have earned “million-dollar purses” and the first time women have headlined the “hallowed mecca in Manhattan”. The 20,000 fans who packed the arena witnessed a contest of “battle, skill and wit” whose outcome was in doubt till the very end. After ten rounds, the judges were split, but two of the three narrowly favoured Taylor. So the Irish fighter, who has never lost a professional fight, retained her undisputed lightweight crown.
What made the encounter all the more riveting were the two fighters’ contrasting styles, said Michael Foley in The Times. Serrano, 33, from Puerto Rico, is a boxer of immense punching power, while 35-year-old Taylor is renowned for her agility and ring-craft. In the fifth round, Serrano inflicted a “succession of ferocious assaults” on her opponent, but deploying all her experience, Taylor gradually wrested back the initiative, “capping an awesome reversal” by landing several big blows near the end.
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Taylor, who grew up in an “impoverished neighbourhood” in County Wicklow, and who first considered a career as a footballer, became an Irish icon when she won gold at the 2012 Olympics, said Chris Mannix in Sports Illustrated. She turned professional four years later, at a time when there was barely a commercial market for women’s boxing. Since then, the sport has made big strides forward – largely thanks to her success and global popularity.
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