NEW YORK CITY — With the blizzard that was Jonas and the day known as Valentine’s both come and gone, something else was sure to bring the fire and ice. We are in NYC after all, a city that no one, no matter how well-heeled nor how wily, could ever figure or wear out.
Seems the same was true Wednesday night under the blue cool lights of B.B. King’s in Manhattan where southpaw Amanda Serrano of Bushwick, Brooklyn made easy work of her opponent by way of Winnipeg—a one Olivia Gerula, a.k.a “The Predator.” But the only thing Gerula was hunting was perhaps the reason why she ever signed the contract to get in the ring with Serrano, now a three-time titlist in the three different weight classes.
Serrano told Steve Farhood in the post-fight interview that she plans to drop down to 122 from 126 in hopes of tying fellow Boricua Miguel Cotto’s record of being a four-time strapholder in four different weight classes.
Serrano’s ambitions for multi-weight dominance didn’t align with the enthusiasm of the audience. Like any amateur boxing event I’d ever been to, the chairs were quickly folded up, and really only a small smattering of fans and the expected gaggle of friends and family stayed around to congratulate Serrano.
Maybe it’s because these days everyone is staying at home mending a still-broken heart or perhaps enjoying the lingering embrace of a new love, or maybe because it was a stinking Wednesday night in February in the new Disneyland—Times Square—and that going out to watch a sport that never quite broke niche-fandom post the Mike Tyson era seems a little bit of a tall order.
But maybe it was because it was something else—something that subverts the idea that women in boxing make boxing more of a marketable sport. Tonight a governing body rewarded a no doubt skillful and capable Amanda “The Real Deal” Serrano for stopping a woman in the 1st round with about the same number of losses on her record as there are stars on the American flag. Of course, I joke here, but the Canadian challenger for the Vacant WBO Female World Featherweight Championship had something like 15 Ls to her name. This would never go over in any other sport, and almost certainly not in men’s professional boxing.
I knew Serrano had won the fight after a flurry in the first 20 seconds of round 1 caused the 35-year-old Gerula to blow out the particular all-at-once breath of a boxer in deep trouble or someone who is being water-tortured and who has her head lifted at unknown intervals into too pure air. With her bell sufficiently rung, “The Predator” looked onto the stage from where I sat in a way that someone hurt looks for exits at their peripherals when knowing what is right before them is danger.
Serrano, for her part, did what any trained fighter, male or female, does: finish.
Recovering from the assault, a poignant moment was when Gerula refused assistance out of the the ring, down the steps, before she was quickly forgotten onto a little path that led to the locker room.
I talked to Serrano after the fight and she told me she was excited to hold a belt again: “Not that it was a long time coming,” she quipped.
An old pug myself, and a keen observer of other ex-fighters who may never have been more than sparring partners, and who now on an odd night come into some old church basement hosting a boxing show where a hotdog, a knish and Skittles each could be bought for a buck — and said ex-fighter, followed by another at some distance, and another still just breaking from the cafeteria swing door, could all be greeted by three, four, five different people as “champ.”
In regards to Serrano and the handling of female stars in the sport, I wondered if there was any difference.