It’s a case where quality can be measured in minutes.
A maximum of sixteen minutes.
On Friday (DAZN, 8 PM EST), Puerto Rican undisputed women’s featherweight champion Amanda Serrano (45-2-1, 30 KO) makes a step forward for championship boxing when she defends Brazilian contender Danila Ramos (12-2, 1 KO) in a main event from Orlando, Florida. Serrano will be heavily favored and Ramos appears to offer little in the way of a physical threat.
Those sixteen minutes, in total, might not come into play.
The first ten of them could matter greatly.
What are the sixteen minutes? That’s the total addition of time to this weekend’s main event on top of the normal Serrano affair. Winning titles in every weight class from 115 to 140 pounds, Serrano has contested at the standard women’s championship limit of 10×2, ten rounds of two minutes.
Serrano-Ramos is all the way in.
It might take awhile for this to be the new standard for women’s boxing, but boxing history says once a door is opened for change on a big stage, change has a chance to stick. This isn’t the debut twelve round women’s bout, though it is the first in more than fifteen years. It is also the maiden voyage during what is inarguably the golden age for women’s boxing.
Boxing’s round totals have fluctuated on the men’s side over the last century. Near mythical contests that lasted past forty rounds are part of lore. Joe Louis was the last heavyweight champion to compete in a scheduled 20-round title fight, stopping Abe Simon in the 13th round in 1941. Mike Tyson was the last in a scheduled 15-round affair, stopping Tyrell Biggs in seven in 1987.
Serrano might stop Ramos well before the end of a scheduled twelve. Where she stops her could end up being part of the point. A finish at 2:01 of any single round will be a victory in and of itself.
In her biggest fight, a showdown with Ireland’s Katie Taylor, Serrano had Taylor reeling in the fifth round. It was two minutes of high drama. What if there had been a third minute? On the men’s side, there can be laments about some of the rounds lost over the years though most seem fine not finding out what a twenty-round fight was like.
They don’t have to wonder about a third minute five rounds in.
The women shouldn’t either. The Marquis of Queensberry rules have been around since the second half of the 19th century. Three minutes is a round. One minute is the rest period.
The women and men in basketball both play a ten foot rim; play 18 holes in golf; play the same courts in tennis.
Divorce most of the arguments from what often boils down to patriarchal gibberish and there’s never really been a good one for why women don’t fight three minute rounds.
While the population of professional women continues to grow, the quality of the product has clearly evolved. Fighters like Serrano, Taylor, Chantelle Cameron, and Claressa Shields are damn good at what they do, put in every bit of the effort of their male peers, and have earned the right for their championship rounds to not be set aside as different any longer.
Not everyone agrees. There is still resistance, notably from WBC head Mauricio Sulaiman whose title will not be on the line this weekend. Sulaiman is on the wrong side of this.
One of the selling points of women’s boxing is its sprint nature. There are often exciting, fast paced fights that fit into two minutes at a time. The offset is the lack of stoppages in the sport. Serrano’s standout power is uncommon. Part of the allure of the sport is the knockout. Extra minutes could mean extra chances and that could further improve marketability for all.
Serrano isn’t the first champion to say she wants those extra rounds and minutes. She’s just the one who gets to set the trend. This weekend is a win before she even sets foot in the ring.
Jonathan Gonzalez is fighting to do more than defend his junior flyweight title. There is every reason to think his scrap this weekend with Gerardo Zapata is a last obstacle to getting back to a unification showdown with Kenshiro…Naoya Inoue-Marlon Tapales is set and Inoue should be a big favorite. Tapales will be a big underdog but he made his luck for the chance in the ring and whoever wins will be the first undisputed champion in the modern era ever at junior featherweight…Don’t sleep on O’Shaquie Foster-Rocky Hernandez this weekend. It’s an interesting matchup on Saturday.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]