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NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: TAYLOR-SERRANO, SHAKUR MAKE GREATNESS HAPPEN

By Paul Magno | May 02, 2022
NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: TAYLOR-SERRANO, SHAKUR MAKE GREATNESS HAPPEN

All throughout the build-up to Saturday’s Madison Square Garden main event, people were saying that Taylor-Serrano was the women’s boxing equivalent of Mayweather-Pacquiao.

Well, Mayweather-Pacquiao WISHES it would’ve been Taylor-Serrano.

Forget the historical significance of being the first female boxing main event at Madison Square Garden. Forget the titles. Forget what this fight meant to women’s boxing in general. What we saw Saturday night was an example of two elite-level fighters giving it all, performing to the best of their abilities and showing the boxing world why best vs. best fights are so damn important.

Both Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano did what they do best and both executed their respective game plans. Both were sharp and performed at 100%. In the end, Taylor got the nod on two of the judges’ scorecards. Personally, I scored the fight a 95-95 draw, but 96-94 either way was absolutely reasonable.  Hell, even the judges did a good job on Saturday. 

I haven’t written a lot about women’s boxing in the past, but it had nothing to do with some macho “women shouldn’t fight” nonsense. As a matter of fact, a couple years back, I almost got laughed out of the room in a conversation I was having with some boxing old timers when I mentioned that women’s boxing, with fighters like Claressa Shields and Amanda Serrano on the scene, could start drawing some good money. But, for me, there just weren’t that many elite level female boxers to pique my interest and not enough quality rivalries to make for fertile ground when it comes to subject matter as a writer. And, honestly, that’s probably still the case. As far as women’s boxing has come, there’s still just a very small handful of true elites and you don’t have to dig too deep before you get lady boxers who walk into world title fights looking and fighting like stage-frightened P.E. teachers. 

Saturday’s show will definitely help change that dynamic and, with continued quality showings from the elites (along with the accompanying increase in quality paydays), help inspire more women to take boxing seriously as a full-time career.

But what something like Taylor-Serrano shows us is that, at the elite-level, the female fighters can put on a show every bit as entertaining and compelling and competitively satisfying as the men. 

Bring on Taylor-Serrano 2. 

*******************

In dominating Oscar Valdez Saturday night in Las Vegas, Shakur Stevenson put in his second straight performance as a fully actualized pound-for-pound-level fighter. 

Before utterly disassembling Jamel Herring last October to win the WBO super featherweight title, I always considered Stevenson to be an immense talent who was, honestly, an absolute snooze to watch. And because of his cautious “do just enough to win” mindset, I pegged him as a fighter with a relative low ceiling when it came to how big of a star he could become. 

The Herring fight, however, changed my mind on that assessment. Stevenson showed up in a big way, executing like a fighter hungry to make a mark. In doing so, we got a glimpse of what a fully actualized Shakur Stevenson looks like. 

Against defending WBC super featherweight titlist Valdez, he showed that side of himself again. 

The 24-year-old looked to be at least two full levels above a very good Valdez and was never once in trouble or even concerned about what his opponent had to offer. And while he didn’t get a stoppage, he didn’t really have to. The victory was obscenely one-sided for a title unification bout between the consensus no. 1 and no. 2 fighters in the division, but never boring. Shakur, who landed 53% of his shots and dropped Valdez in the sixth round, made sure of that. 

In short, Stevenson put on a show while putting on a clinic-- and that’s exactly what an elite-level boxing star does. As long as he keeps remembering that and keeps fighting opponents the fans want to see him fight, his star will keep climbing. 

P.S. Kudos to the boxing bossmen at DAZN/Matchroom/ESPN/Top Rank for arranging things so that Taylor-Serrano didn't go head-to-head against Shakur-Valdez and fans could watch both fights live. 

Got something for Magno? Send it here: paulmagno@theboxingtribune.com

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