Amanda Serrano and Alycia Baumgardner could one day find themselves on a collision course.
For now, the two will chase history on the same New York City show.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that plans are finalized for two undisputed championships atop a February 4 DAZN show from Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York City. Brooklyn’s Serrano will face Mexico City’s Erika Cruz for all the featherweight chips in the evening’s headlining act, while BoxingScene.com has learned that Baumgardner’s quest for the undisputed junior lightweight championship will come versus France’s Elhem Mekhaled.
Unbeaten red-hot prospects Ramla Ali and Skye Nicolson–who represented Somalia and Australia, respectively in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics—are also expected to appear in separate bouts. On the men’s side of the sport, BoxingScene.com has learned that there ongoing efforts to finalize an opponent for Brooklyn’s Richardson Hitchins, a representative of Haiti in the 2016 Rio Olympics and current unbeaten junior welterweight contender.
Serrano will risk her lineal/WBC/IBF/WBO featherweight championship, while the visiting Cruz (15-1, 3KOs) brings her WBA title to the table to crown the division’s first ever undisputed queen. More history is pursued by Serrano (43-2-1, 30KOs), as a win will leave the record-setting seven-division titlist as the only Puerto Rican boxer ever—male or female—to become undisputed champion.
Fittingly, the quest lands at the same venue that saw Serrano reclaim her WBO featherweight title in a September 2019 landslide win over then-unbeaten titlist and fellow Brooklyn native Heather Hardy. The 34-year-old Boricua southpaw has since claimed the WBC title via upgrade from interim title status when Jelena Mrdjenovich was unable to honor her mandatory title defense.
The IBF title was added to Serrano’s collection following her dominant ten-round win over undefeated Sarah Mahfoud in their September 24 unification bout in Manchester, England.
Three weeks prior to Serrano-Mahfoud, Cruz posted the second defense of her WBA titie in a repeat win over Mrdjenovich. The ten-round virtual shutout saw Cruz extend her current 14-fight win streak as well as her title reign dating back to an April 2021 technical decision victory over Mrdjenovich in West Point, New York.
For Serrano, it’s also a second attempt at becoming undisputed champion with her previous effort taking place in MSG’s main room. She fell just short of making history as Ireland’s Katie Taylor escaped their April 30 superfight with a split decision win in front of a sold-out crowd. Their instant classic has dominated awards season, including BoxingScene.com’s runaway favorite for 2022 Women’s Fight of the Year—and in this writer’s opinion, the best overall fight of 2022 regardless of gender.
Taylor-Serrano was also accompanied by a second undisputed championship. Baltimore’s Franchon Crews-Dezurn soundly outpointed Sweden’s unbeaten Elin Cederroos to defend her WBC/WBO super middleweight titles and claim the lineal/WBA/IBF championship with her historic win.
Baumgarder (13-1, 7KOs) is now poised to create similar history as the first-ever undisputed junior lightweight champion.
The hard-hitting and multi-talented 28-year-old from the greater Detroit area unified all but one divisional title following her ten-round, majority decision win over Mikaela Mayer. Their October 15 grudge match saw Baumgardner defend her WBC title and snatch the IBF/WBO belts from Mayer in their unification bout as the co-feature of an all-women’s card at The O2 in London.
For Baumgardner, it was the third fight in a row in jolly old England. The journey began with her first title win, a fourth-round knockout of unbeaten WBC champ Terri Harper last November 13 in Sheffield, England. Wedged in between the title wins was a ten-round shutout over former unified featherweight titlist Edith Soledad Matthysse on April 16 in Manchester.
Following the win over Mayer, Baumgardner and her team—including co-promoters Marshall Kauffman (King’s Promotions) and Eddie Hearn (Matchroom Boxing)—petitioned the WBA to order an undisputed championship. The move came shortly after the sanctioning body took a similar measure in calling for a Serrano-Cruz clash as part of its ‘One Boxing’ campaign to crown an undisputed champion in every weight division.
With the call came applied pressure placed on WBA junior lightweight titlist Hyun Mi Choi (20-0-1, 5KOs), the longest reigning active titlist at the time—male or female. It ended with the North Korea-born, Seoul-based two-division titlist filing an injury exemption just as the fight was destined to head to a purse bid hearing. The WBA split the baby, downgrading Choi to ‘Champion in Recess’ while permitting Baumgardner to vie for the now vacant title against the highest-ranked available challenger.
Mekhaled (15-1, 3KOs) is ranked number three by the WBA. The former interim WBC titlist endured her lone career defeat in her most recent start, dropping a competitive unanimous decision to former WBC lightweight champ Delfine Persoon in their fiercely contested ten-round slugfest on May 21 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The fight endured a brief cancellation and a location change as both boxers flew home during fight week and then back to the Middle East once plans were restored for the Floyd Mayweather-Don Moore exhibition bout at the top of the bill.
The upcoming showdown with Baumgardner will mark the U.S. debut for Mekhaled, who will train in the states for the bout.
It will also serve as the first U.S.-based fight for Baumgardner since becoming champ. She has not fought in-country since an eight-round decision win over Vanessa Bradford last August 14 in Orlando, Florida.
Serrano makes her fourth overall appearance on MSG grounds, all in title fights.
Her first fight at MSG Hulu Theater came in January 2019, when she knocked out Eva Voraberger in just 35 seconds to win the WBO junior bantamweight title. The fight took place 25 pounds below her previous fight when she claimed the WBO 140-pound belt in a September 2018 win in her Brooklyn home borough. The two wins ran her title collection to seven divisions, a record for all female fightes as well as any Puerto Rican boxer.
In her next fight after the win over Voraberger to extend her own divisional title record, Serrano returned to her natural featherweight frame for the aforementioned victory over Hardy. Three successful defenses have come of Serrano’s third tour as a featherweight champion, along with two fights at lightweight during that stretch—a ten-round win over former title challenger Miriam Gutierrez last December 18 in Tampa, followed by the historic clash with Taylor.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox