Amanda Serrano Is Breaking Boxing Barriers, Making History, And (Finally) Earning Seven Figure Purses

Amanda Serrano never figured she’d make $1 million for a fight. She never thought she’d headline the big arena at Madison Square Garden. She probably never figured she’d be inundated with so many media interview requests and press conferences.

But Serrano woke up early Wednesday morning, and with YouTube star/boxer/boxing promoter Jake Paul by her side, began promoting her talking up her fight against Katie Taylor that will crown the undisputed 135-pound champion. More than that, the winner of the April 30 bout will have a legitimate claim to be considered the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

When Serrano began her career in 2009, there’s no chance she figured any of this would happen.

“It’s pretty much unbelievable,” Serrano told me Wednesday while in the middle of a day of interviews and a press conference in New York. “We’re breaking barriers. We’re making history. I’m super glad that I’m one of those women. I thought something like this would be way in the future after I was old and retired.”

Instead, Serrano (42-1-2, 30 KOs), at the age of 33 and 13 years into her career, appears to be as a good as ever. She’s a seven-division world titlist (the only other boxer ever to accomplish that feat was Manny Pacquiao, who won belts in eight weight classes), and she’s been long regarded as one of the best female fighters in the world.

But both Taylor (20-0, 6 KOs) and Claressa Shields also stake a claim to the mythical moniker of pound-for-pound best. Beating Taylor, especially if she could knock out the 2012 Olympic gold medalist, and winning all the lightweight belts would vault Serrano past both of them.

“I think that this fight is the most exciting fight in the sport, not just female boxing,” Taylor said during Wednesday’s press conference. “This really is the best fight in boxing right now.”

Well, not everybody thinks so. Taylor vs. Serrano occurs the same night that Oscar Valdez and Shakur Stevenson will battle for unified junior lightweight titles. DAZN, which is broadcasting Taylor vs. Serrano, said it will try to schedule the main event earlier so it doesn’t overlap with Stevenson vs. Valdez. That fight is being promoted by Top Rank’s Bob Arum and when asked about the conflicting shows, he said, “As good a fight as that is, I mean, come on. For whatever reason people don’t particularly pay attention to the women’s fights. It’s like comparing Premier League to women’s football.”

Paul immediately took great offense to that and called Arum a dinosaur in the sport.

Asked about Arum’s comments (or, perhaps more importantly, Arum’s mindset on women’s boxing as a whole), Paul told me, “It’s embarrassing on his behalf. He’s a dinosaur that isn’t aware of the times. It pisses me off. How does he go around and say things like that? I might have to punch him.”

Paul was probably kidding about that last part, but he’s completely serious about promoting women’s boxing. He said he met Serrano, saw how hard she worked, and couldn’t believe that she was being paid, as he put it, “pennies on the dollar.” So, Paul put Serrano on two of his own undercards, and though Serrano was already well known to hardcore boxing fans, he exposed to her a wider swath of the audience. Now, he’s guaranteed that Serrano and Taylor will each earn seven figures for their fight.

Backed by a YouTube star who has more than 20 million YouTube subscribers and millions of more Twitter and Instagram followers, the exposure for Serrano has been well worth it.

“For me, I’ve always wanted to use my platform for good and to promote and help other people,” Paul said. “When I met Amanda, she was telling me the story of how much she was getting paid. I thought, ‘This doesn’t make any sense.’ This is one of the greatest boxers of all time, male or female, period. She deserves that pay. This is a step in the right direction. The seven-figure payday shows we’re making progress. She’s a knockout artist superstar, and I’m shining a spotlight on her.”

Though Serrano has perhaps the biggest punch, pound for pound, among all female fighters, this is still a 50/50 fight. Early odds showed Serrano as the slight +100 underdog (Taylor started as a -130 betting favorite), but as of Wednesday evening, both fighters had identical -120 money lines.

While Taylor has an aggressive style that allows her to throw plenty of punches, she also is available to be hit by opponents. She’s never been knocked down as a pro, and Serrano would love to change that. And if she can get the kind of highlight-reel knockout that Paul scored in December against Tyron Woodley, those seven-figure paydays and those shows where she’s the main event might not be a one-time occurrence.

“You mean like the Jake Paul knockout?” a laughing Serrano said when asked how important a stoppage of Taylor would be for her career and for her future. “I’ve been boxing for so long, and I’ve been dying for a knockout like that. It would be great. Even if we have a great performance, the both of us—if we go at it and she ends up looking like my last opponent, it’s going to bring eyes … I know the place is going to be packed with Latinos and Irish people. I have to go out there and perform. Why wouldn’t you want to tune in to this fight?”