Will the historic Serrano vs. Ramos fight change the direction of women’s boxing?


ORLANDO, Fla. — They both, in their own ways, sensed it was time for the next chapter of women’s boxing. Amanda Serrano when she started floating the idea for three-minute rounds and Danila Ramos when she agreed to fight the undisputed featherweight champion.

Sometimes changes happen in sold-out iconic arenas, in the largest atmospheres one can provide. Other times they happen on a Friday night, in a sold-out 3,500-seat ballroom in the middle of Florida. But the key is progress.

The reverberations of what Serrano and Ramos did — opting to fight 12, three-minute rounds instead of the usual 10, two-minute rounds for women’s title fights — outweighed the eventual outcome of Serrano defeating Ramos by unanimous decision to retain her IBF, WBO and WBA titles. This fight showed women can be equal in rounds and minutes and type of fights.

“This is history,” Serrano said. “We made history together and I’m just excited to see the future of women’s boxing.”

Serrano understood the pressures going in, much like she did a year ago when she fought Katie Taylor at Madison Square Garden as the first women headliners in one of boxing’s most iconic venues. She knew they had to deliver.

Taylor and Serrano did then. Serrano and Ramos did now. Serrano-Ramos didn’t feel any different than men’s fights shown across the boxing landscape every weekend. Which is a large part of the point. Serrano, after a feeling-out period the first three rounds — not atypical to how men approach fights — fought with the same style she always does. She threw over 1,100 punches in the 12-round fight, including more than 110 punches in the 10th, 11th and 12th.

It showed she did not tire — and those three rounds, the championship rounds, were the most entertaining of the fight, which is often how it’s supposed to be. What fans hope to see. Serrano and Ramos proved they could handle it.

“I believe I did open doors with this fight,” Ramos said through an interpreter. “And that I am happy to make my mark. … Today I realized a dream and I was able to make it come true. So never stop fighting for your dreams.”

Now the question is what’s next. Three of the four major sanctioning bodies approved this fight, giving credence this should be more than a one-off — something Serrano and her team wanted to ensure.

Many fighters have expressed interest in fighting three-minute rounds going forward. Over two dozen past and present women fighters showed support for the choice between 10-and-12 rounds and two-and-three-minute rounds in October.

Serrano said she would like all her fights to be at that length. Unified strawweight champion Seniesa Estrada, who fought a three-minute round fight against Marlen Esparza earlier in her career, told ESPN recently that she would like to fight three-minute rounds.

Chantelle Cameron, the undisputed junior welterweight champion, pitched her November rematch against Taylor to be three-minute rounds, although the fight will be contested at 10, two-minute rounds instead. Cameron told ESPN she wants three-minute round fights in the future, too.

“Hopefully, I think she’s setting the bar,” Cameron told ESPN recently. “So now people just got to follow.”

Now it’s a matter of figuring out ways around — or through — those providing impediments. The biggest would be WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman, whose organization’s title was not on the line Friday night because he has long been against three-minute rounds for women fighters.

He has cited studies and safety issues and last week told the BBC he was “praying that there will be no mishap or injury due to this deeply misguided and mistaken initiative.”

Except there’s always a level of risk in boxing. Ask any fighter, any trainer, and there’s a spoken or otherwise implicit understanding of it.

“I hope that tonight I proved women are capable,” Serrano said after the fight. “I went 12 rounds, me and my opponent went 12, three-minute rounds and we’re healthy. We went out there and we put on a show.

“We’re healthy, we’re alive and we’re going strong and I don’t know. I thought performing at this level would convince them, but we’ll see.”

Serrano, as she often does, tried to prove things with her gloves. Her team expressed it more forcefully. Her promoter, Nakisa Bidarian, took direct aim at what Sulaiman said, even mentioning his ‘misguided initiative’ comments.

“For anyone to say that women can’t do it,” Bidarian said. “They are misrepresenting the facts.”

Serrano’smanager and trainer, Jordan Maldonado, who essentially doubled their workload preparing for this fight, made it even clearer. They didn’t complain about the WBC’s decision before the fight and never publicly challenged it.

After, though, he couldn’t contain his thoughts.

“I just think that the WBC underestimated women,” Maldonado said. “Which I don’t know why. That’s something that no one should do.”

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