Amanda Serrano Must Get Through Heather Hardy To Reach Superfights

Alycia Baumgardner and Katie Taylor await for 'The Real Deal'
07:00, 01 Aug 2023

Amanda Serrano is eyeing a lucrative date with Alycia Baumgardner as she steps through the ropes with Heather Hardy this Saturday. Her undisputed featherweight title defence arrives on the undercard of Jake Paul’s ten-rounder with ex-UFC star Nate Diaz. Make no mistake, the women are the real headliners as far as true boxing enthusiasts are concerned.

The most-decorated female athlete in all of fistiana and a record-breaking seven-weight world champion, Serrano could be forgiven for scoffing at her billing. But with Paul acting as her promoter and manager, Serrano has nothing but praise for the awareness he has brought to her career. Whatever you think of his own farcical forays into the squared circle, his involvement has been a net positive for Serrano. She is a bigger name now than at any point in her distinguished ring career.

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Paul has delivered an interesting fight here too. Heather Hardy is a fellow trailblazer who has done so much over the last decade to advance the women’s game. A keen campaigner to address the boxing pay gap, Hardy has used her platform to elevate women in both the amateur and professional strands of the sport. 

While the main event is a demonstration of what is wrong with the sport, its chief support shows so much of what is great about it. These two women have had a huge part to play in women’s boxing enjoying widespread popularity. Ultimately though, for all these fine achievements, it will come down to what happens over 10 rounds of championship boxing.

On this score, Serrano must be favoured. Their first fight is instructive, with ‘The Real Deal’ having beaten Hardy via unanimous decision back in 2019 for the latter’s WBO featherweight title. The Puerto Rican dominated ‘The Heat’ in their first bout. An argument can be made that the fight ended Hardy’s interests as a world class practitioner.

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Hardy lost to former title challenger Jessica Camara in an eight-rounder in her next fight. She has won twice since, but needed a split decision to beat Taynna Cardoso, who’s record is 5-4, last time out. At the age of 41 it feels like Hardy’s finest work is behind her. She is not in the sort of form that instils confidence against a truly generational talent in Serrano. 

The truth is, for all the value this fight has as a meeting of true innovators, it exists primarily in 2023 as a showcase for Serrano. The dazzling Puerto Rican has some very exciting options on the horizon. A big, impressive win on what will be a widely-viewed card is a great way to trigger some of these fights.

Alycia Baumgardner is perhaps the most exciting prospect as a future Serrano foe. ‘The Bomb’ is in the form of her life, having won her last nine bouts. This streak has taken in a huge victory over Mikaela Mayer at the O2 and the unification of the super featherweight division. Baumgardner has options, not least a rematch with Mayer after their controversial first bout at the O2. But the Ohio-born puncher has made no secret of the fact Serrano is in her sights.

The idea of a Serrano rematch against Katie Taylor isn’t going away either. The two stars shared a thrilling 10 rounds in 2022, headlining Madison Square Garden in the process. It was both a historic night for women’s boxing and an utter classic of ringcraft. Despite the fact Taylor has lost since, to undisputed light welterweight queen Chantelle Cameron, there is still anticipation for a Serrano sequel.

These thrilling potential fights can only come around if Serrano does her job against Hardy. The veteran is fading but dangerous. ‘The Heat’ will know this is likely to be her last title opportunity. Fighters with nothing to lose are a difficult proposition. But Serrano is the pick here. Look for ‘The Real Deal’ to dazzle, paving the way for future superfights.

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