In an exciting fight of the year candidate, IBF, IBO, WBC, WBO female featherweight champion Amanda Serrano (44-2-1, 30 KOs) out-brawled WBA champ Erika Cruz (15-2, 3 KOs), winning a 10 round unanimous decision to become the undisputed championship on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Cruz out-punched Serrano in most of the rounds with her superior power and work rate, but the judges weren’t impressed enough to give her the victory despite her harder landing shots.
A draw would have been fine, or even a narrow victory for either fighter, but the scores from the three judges didn’t make sense.
Serrano, 34, hurt Cruz in the sixth round and had hurt close to being stopped. Cruz was cut earlier in the fight from an accidental headbutt that resulted in a gash on her hairline.
With the cut being on the scalp, it bled profusely, dripping into Cruz’s eyes, making it difficult for her to see from the fifth round on.
In the chief support bout, WBC/IBF/WBO female super featherweight champion Alycia Baumgardner (14-1, 7 KOs) defeated Elhem Mekhaled (15-2, 3 KOs) by a wide 10 round unanimous decision.
Baumgardner dropped Mekhaled twice in the third round, but then badly gassed out and was fighting on fumes for the last seven rounds.
Mekhaled fought well enough to win at least five of the last seven, if not six. The judges’ scores were wide in Baumgardner’s face, perhaps too wide.
Baumgarder’s stamina was terrible tonight, the way she gassed out twice and was never able to regain the strength she had in the first three rounds.
Light welterweight Richardson Hitchins (16-0, 7 KOs) beat John Bauza (17-1, 7 KOs) by a 10 round unanimous decision in a fight of the night thus far on the card. Bauza was dropped in the first and fourth rounds. The first knockdown by Hitchins was a result of him stepping on Bauza’s lead foot. Hitchins hit him Bauza while stepping on his right foot.
The scores were 100-88, 100-88, and 100-88.
Hitchins, 25, couldn’t miss with his laser right hand, which was his main weapon the entire fight. Bauza made it easy for Hitchins to land the shot by not moving his head and standing directly in front of him.
When Bauza was attacking, Hitchins had a harder time trying to land his right hand with accuracy because he needed him to be standing still to connect.
In the later rounds, Bauza made it rough, elbowing, head-butting and shouldering Hitchins. He tried everything in the book to get to Hitchins, but it didn’t work. He stayed cool and boxed his way to a 10 round decision.
Flyweight prospect Yankiel Rivera (3-0, 2 KOs) had a more challenging time than expected in beating Fernando Diaz (11-3-1, 3 KOs) by an eight round unanimous decision. Eddie Hearn recently signed the 22-year-old Rivera to his Matchroom Boxing stable, and he has high hopes for him.
Rivera was a punching machine in the first six rounds but then faded late, allowing Diaz to come on in the seventh and eighth rounds. The judges scored 79-73, 79-73, and 78-74.
Diaz looked like the better fighter of the two in the last couple of rounds, and you can’t help but think that if this were a 12 round bout, he would have stopped Rivera.
Hearn might have made a mistake signing Rivera because for him to look bad against this level of opponent, it’s not a good sign. Diaz looks like he has the better skills of the two. If he had a better work rate, he could be a factor at 112 or 115.
Female featherweight Skye Nicolson (6-0) outboxed Tania Alvarez (7-1, 1 KOs), winning a wide 10 round unanimous decision by 100-90, 98-92, and 97-93. There are no words to describe how bizarre this fight was.
The Aussie Nicolson resembled a mandator trying to fend off an angry little bull in 21-year-old Alvarez. Through the first six rounds, Nicolson looked good, backing up continually and nailing Alvarez with shots while she was coming in.
From rounds eight through ten, Nicolson had nothing left in the tank to keep moving, and her punches, which were painfully weak from the start, were little more than slaps.
To her credit, the better-conditioned & younger Alvarez took advantage of Nicolson’s fatigue, landing many nice shots. In the last three rounds, Nicolson frequently clinched and shoved Alvarez to keep her from getting her shots off.
The referee, who was just standing around, looking useless, did nothing to address the nonstop holding from the exhausted Nicolson. With a good referee working the fight, Nicolson would have been docked points for her frequent holding and shoving.
It’s unclear whether the management for Nicolson purposefully choose the less skilled Alvarez thinking this would be a showcase fight for their fighter. In hindsight, that was a big mistake because Alvarez exposed Nicolson’s poor stamina big time and her complete lack of power.
She clearly doesn’t have the ability to mix it with the likes of Amanda Serrano or any A-level fighter for that matter.
Ramla Ali (8-0, 2 KOs) defeated Avril Mathie (8-1-1, 3 KOs) by a 10 round unanimous decision in female super bantamweight action to capture the IBF Intercontinental strap. The scores were a ridiculous wide 99-91, 99-91, and 99-91.
Both fighters were throwing nonstop leather, with neither taking a backwards step. Ramla got the better of the action with the clean shots to the head that she was landing. On the downside, Ramla was doing a great deal of holding and getting away with it.
When she goes up against the better competition, Ramla will need to limit the holding because that won’t be enough for her to win against the elite competition.
The hard-hitting Shadasia Green (12-0, 11 KOs) overpowered Elin Cederroos (8-2, 4 KOs), battering her at will until the referee stopped the fight in the sixth in a WBA/WBC super middleweight title eliminator. By then, Cederrroos’ nose was bloody, and she looked in bad shape.
The fight should have been stopped in the third round after the 33-year-old Green dropped Cederroos. Referee Danny Schiavone stopped the fight at 1:08 of the sixth.
Harley Mederos (5-0, 4 KOs) dominated an overmatched Julio Madera (4-3, 2 KOs), halting him in the sixth round of a scheduled six-round fight in lightweight action.
The 22-year-old Mederos was throwing a lot of lead left hooks, looking to KO Madera with every shot. In the sixth, the referee had seen enough and stepped in and halted the contest at :25 of the round.
Mederos, who comes from Brooklyn, didn’t show a lot of power, but the sheer accumulation of blows he landed did the job.
Unbeaten light welterweight Aaron Aponte (7-0-1, 2 KOs) used his pressure and beautiful combination punching to pound out an eight round unanimous decision over Joshua David Rivera (8-2, 3 KOs). The scores were 80-72, 80-72, and 80-72.
Preview: “To be able to have the last piece and become undisputed at the Hula Theater is amazing,” said Amanda Serrano to DAZN.
“It’s my first time here, and I’m hoping it’s not my last,” said Elhem Mekhaled. “I’m hoping I can demonstrate some stylish boxing and put up a great fight in America and stick in the minds of all watching fans and return home as the unified champion.”
“If I did it, if it happened, well, I don’t know, it would be something that, I think I’d throw a party,” said Erika Cruz about her fight with Serrano. “But it would be the most significant thing that could happen to me.”
“I know that Erika Cruz is a tough Mexican champion as well as a southpaw. It would be my first southpaw that I’m facing. That’s why this whole camp is dedicated to Erika Cruz, and I will continue to dedicate this fight,” said Serrano. “I have no sight other than Erika Cruz.
“I’m my biggest critic, and I want to be my best version of myself, and I always want to be better than I was the day before in my last fight. So I’m always pushing to be better, and just to be the best fighter I can be and to be a role model and have young girls look up to me and to say, ‘I want to be just like Amanda Serrano.’
“I always say, ‘No, I want you to be better than me.’ So this is the last piece of the puzzle, and I give back. I’m a super proud Puerto Rican and I want to give back to the Island. So this fight is the biggest fight of my career,” said Serrano.
“I don’t feel that by winning this fight my life will change too much,” said Mekhaled about her fight with Baumgardner. “But what it can do is change the history of French boxing, and even more so, the history of boxing in France.
“And I’m going to be, or I want to be that role model and go down in history.”
“Come Saturday; there’s so much more to accomplish after I become undisputed, we move on to fighting the best” said Alycia Baumgardner.
“As we continue to grow in the sport, it’s important that I continue my legacy and be known as a fighter that took a challenge, even when I was an underdog, and went into anybody’s backyard to fight and become a Hall of Fame fighter,” said Baumgardner.
IBF, WBC, and WBO female featherweight champion Amanda Serrano (43-2-1, 30 KO) takes on WBA champ Erika Cruz (15-1, 3 KO), while IBF/WBC/WBO super featherweight champion Alycia Baumgardner (13-1, 7 KO) battles Elhem Mekhaled (15-1, 3 KO) for the undisputed championship tonight LIVE on DAZN at Madison Square Garden in New York. The event starts at 8 pm ET for the main portion of tonight’s card.