MSG’s Little Theater — these days under the moniker of the Hulu Theater is a fun venue for boxing. Back when the Daily News Golden Gloves was a New York fixture every April, the stands would erupt with cheers as this or that young man or woman entered the ring in blue or gold.
The nice thing is there really is no bad seat, whether for an amateur or professional night of boxing, even way up in the back in the “300” sections, one can see, and it’s often where the true partisan cheers and flag waving abounds.
Last night was no exception. The Puerto Rican flags were in abundance waiting for Puerto Rico’s own (by way of Bushwick, Brooklyn), Amanda Serrano, and her main event fight. An undisputed contest for the feather (126 lbs.) championship.
The Amanda Serrano/Erika Cruz fight was at the top of a nine-fight card — made all the more special by the fact that it contained two undisputed women’s bouts and three undercard female “baby-belt” bouts.
The co-main event featured Alycia Baumgardner contesting for her chance at an undisputed championship against Elhem Mekhaled, who was previously unknown to most fight fans in the United States.
Baumgardner who had defeated Mikaela Mayer on the all-female card in October at London’s O2 arena, came not only to fight and win, but to prove that her family’s deep legacy in the sport of boxing culminates in her as an exemplar of excellence and her and her family’s dreams.
Sitting for a time with boxing legend, Marian “Lady Tyger” Trimiar brought home just how far the sport has come. Lady Tyger began boxing as a teenager and first applied for a license in 1974 back when even amateur fighting was denied to women. She was finally able to become a licensed professional in New York State three years later. Boxing in earnest for no money to speak of ($1,500 was a lot) and in places like California which had a modest if growing boxing scene for women in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Trimiar went so far as to stage a hunger strike in 1987 to help garner support for women in the sport.
Still, she never imagined it would come this far, and watching so many fights at such a high standard of excellence brought solace of a sort, knowing that her battles on and off the canvas were important to the growth and acceptance of women inside the squared circle.
Certainly the sold-out theater — which is truly Amanda Serrano’s house, having fought there since her own beginnings in the Golden Gloves — gave truth to not only Serrano’s acceptance, but the notion that the fans came to watch excellent boxing … period.
For Serrano who made the point that she may be in a group of undisputed women champions, but she remains the only champion in seven weight classes; winning was the chance for her to revel in her achievement at the pinnacle of the sport.
Her next step was announced as she stood beaming in the camera’s eye — a second battle with Katie Taylor set for May 20, 2023 in Dublin, Ireland. She went on to say, “Katie Taylor is a true champion. She came over here. She deserves to have [the rematch] in Ireland.”
Befitting of a true champion — Serrano fighting Taylor will mean yet another first for both women, the chance for one undisputed champion to fight another in one or another’s weight class.
Thinking about Lady Tyger as representative of a lot of women who contested in the sport for the love of it, seeing Serrano and Taylor in the ring, the fans, cheering and waving, brought a deep sense of joy to my own heart. And as we exited, the latin beat pulsating, I felt exalted knowing that something really good had happened
Amanda Serrano (USA) defeated Erika Cruz (Mexico) by UD, 97-93, 98-92 x 2. Serrano became the undisputed feather (126 lbs.) champion retaining her IBF, IBO, WBC, & WBO titles, and winning the WBA title from Cruz. Some pundits scored the fight more evenly giving a round or two more to Cruz who having sustained a deep cut from a head butt in the third round and was wobbled badly in the 6th round, put on a display nothing short of heroic.
Alycia Baumgardner (USA) defeated Elhem Mekhaled (France) by UD, 99-89, 99-89, 98-90. Baumgarder retained her IBF, IBO, WBC, & WB0 titles and won the vacant WBA title to become undisputed champion as junior lightweight (130 lbs.) Mekhaled went down twice in the third round but never quit till the last bell tolled. Baumgarder tired in the latter half of the fight in spurts, which may have meant the scoring should have been a bit more balanced.
Shadasia Green (USA) defeated Elin Cederroos (Sweden) by TKO at 1:08 of the 6th Round in their WBA super middle title eliminator. Green also retained her WBC Silver belt at super middle.
Ramla Ali (UK) defeated Avril Mathis (Australia) by UD, 99-91 x 3 (some thought this was overly generous). Ali became the IBF Inter-Continental Super Bantam title holder.
Skye Nicolson (Australia) defeated Tania Alvarez (Spain) by UD, 98-92, 97-93, 100-90. Nicolson became the WBC Silver Feather champion.