Fight of the Year?

Last night 19,000 fight fans packed Madison Square Garden for a title bout. Dave Portnoy said the pre-fight atmosphere “may be the most electric environment I have ever been in.” Here is his brief video shot shortly before the action began:

One of the fighters was Irish and the other a Puerto Rican from New York, so there was a strong ethnic element in the crowd, with Irish flags, in particular, everywhere. So in some ways it was typical of a much-anticipated title fight.

Except that the boxers were women: Katie Taylor, who entered the bout undefeated at 20-0, and Amanda Serrano, who came in at 42-1-1. The fight was at 135 pounds and five belts were at stake. The fighters put on a great show. Women fight two-minute instead of three-minute rounds, and a title match is 10 rather than 12 rounds. The result is non-stop action. The Garden crowd last night was on its feet throughout, roaring its appreciation for the fighters. Lots of pro boxers watched the fight and tweeted about it. Caleb Truax, for one, tweeted: “Guys…That’s the F****** FIGHT OF THE YEAR!”

The action was furious, with Serrano mostly the aggressor throughout. The early rounds were anyone’s call. In the fifth Serrano staggered Taylor and it looked like she might take her out, but Taylor managed to survive. Taylor was still wobbly in the sixth, but came back strongly in the later rounds. The result was a split decision, 2-1 for Katie Taylor.

I thought Serrano probably won the fight, although that was just impression and I didn’t make a serious attempt to score it. Dave Portnoy agreed:

I hate that decision. I thought it was a draw but if anybody won it was Serrano. The only one in trouble the entire fight was Taylor. Great fight though.

There no doubt will be a rematch, as both fighters agreed immediately afterward. Sportsmanship is generally at a high level in boxing, and that was especially true last night. Serrano and Taylor embraced when the final bell rang, and in their comments afterward saw themselves as partners in the development of women’s boxing.

I have not been a fan of women’s boxing, mostly on principle because I don’t like the idea of women getting hit as a form of entertainment. But it is impossible not to appreciate the athletic skill and courage of fighters like Taylor and Serrano. There is no question that last night’s fight was a great sporting event.

This video from DAZN, which broadcast the fight, is 15 minutes of highlights. In truth, the whole fight was a highlight. I will post the complete bout if a video becomes available. Meanwhile, here it is. Buckle your seat belt:

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