Amanda Serrano will face Erika Cruz in a Puerto Rico vs. Mexican battle for the Undisputed World Featherweight championship and Alycia Baumgardner takes on Elhem Mekhaled for the Undisputed World Super-Featherweight championship at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York on Saturday February 4.
Seven-weight World champion Amanda “Real Deal” Serrano (43-2-1 30 KOs) looks to become the first Puerto Rican born fighter to take home the title of undisputed, as she finally gets the opportunity at Featherweight where she has ruled since 2019, after her history-making Lightweight clash with Katie Taylor at Madison Square Garden last April. Serrano faces off against Cruz in her hometown of New York City after a convincing win over Sarah Mahfoud in Manchester, England to add the Dane’s IBF title to her WBO and WBC belts at 126lbs.
The missing piece of the jigsaw is the WBA crown that belongs to Cruz (15-1 3 KOs). The Mexican became WBA champion in April 2021, ending the long reign of Canadian Jelena Mrdjenovich in West Point, New York. Cruz defended the title in Mexico in November 2021 and then met Mrdjenovich in a rematch in September in Mexico and won via shutout on points. The 32 year old, nicknamed ‘Dinamita’ will pose a big threat to Serrano’s hopes of becoming undisputed and put a spanner in the works of the Taylor rematch.
“This is a pivotal moment, not just for me and my own career but for my home island of Puerto Rico,” said Serrano. Earning the opportunity to be an undisputed lineal champion is something most fighters only dream about but becoming the first boxer from Puerto Rico to be an undisputed champion would make it even more special. I look forward to entering the ring on Saturday, February 4th in my hometown of NYC back at Madison Square Garden, taking on a Mexican champion in Erika Cruz and making Puerto Rican history. I encourage all my fans to turn up and tune in!”
“We’ve come to realize nothing is unachievable for Amanda and she is truly setting the tone for a historic 2023 as she goes head-to-head with Mexico’s Erica Cruz in her fight first of the year,” said MVP co-founder Nakisa Bidarian. “Being the first Puerto Rican born fighter to take home the title of undisputed lineal champion is a goal we have discussed since she joined MVP fifteen months ago.” With an unwavering commitment to boxing, Amanda’s focus has always been to be one of the best to ever step into the ring. The fact that the Puerto Rican greats, like Felix Trinidad, Wilfredo Gomez, Carlos Ortiz and Miguel Cotto never achieved undisputed status but that Amanda Serrano will with a win, is a testament to her and her team’s greatness.”
“I am grateful that this opportunity was finally given to me after many years of work,” said Cruz. “I have always gone against everything, but God is on my side, and he has given me the strength to achieve my goals. It’s time to make history and give Mexico its first unified champion at 126 pounds.”
Baumgardner (13-1 7 KOs) had a brilliant 2022, capped by her victorious trip to London where she unified the 130lbs division against bitter American rival and IBF, WBO and Ring Magazine champion Mikaela Mayer in October via split decision. Baumgardner made it three wins on the bounce in the UK having ripped the WBC and IBO World titles from Terri Harper in Sheffield in November 2021 with a stunning KO and defending the belt for the first time in April in Manchester, shutting out Edith Matthysse over ten rounds.
Like Serrano, the Detroit star just needs the WBA belt to complete the full set, and that belt is vacant with #3 ranked Mekhaled (15-1 3 KOs), and the French former interim WBC champion comes into the bout on the back of a slender reversal in a bruising encounter with Belgium’s former World ruler Delfine Persoon in May in Abu Dhabi.
“Naturally, I’m VERY excited to finally be fighting for undisputed to make it official what I’ve known all along – I’m the world’s best fighter in this division!” said Baumgardner.
“To finally return home and debut in MY country as a World champion is something I’ve been so looking forward to and to have all of this come together as a co-main at the legendary Madison Square Garden in NYC is so incredible!
“NYC is an awesome representation of our country’s diversity, the diversity that’s so near and dear to my heritage… so for me, it’s definitely a fitting venue.
“I get to be an ambassador for women’s boxing in America on one of the largest stages for boxing in the world! I plan to use my talent as an athlete to show Americans and the world a level of women’s boxing that many have never seen before.
“Mekhaled is a great fighter. She’s quick, smart, very skilled, and experienced. Her record and her last fight, where she really outboxed Persoon shows that, but neither she nor anyone else in this division are on my level. So, I plan to end this one quick and make an example out of her.
“She’s standing in between me and God’s plan, so I’m going to have to walk straight through her. This won’t be a fight ANYONE can call close. She had a better chance of ending the fight on her feet if she took the offer back in April when it was first offered to her, but now, I feel motivated to silence any remaining doubters and put everyone from 130 to 140 on notice – I’m coming!”
“Since my WBC interim 2019 title, I’ve been waiting for this moment,” said Mekhaled. “Maybe fate has played well: instead of one belt, there are all on the line!
“I am super excited to fight on February 4 at the legendary MSG in New York. God knows how determined I am! It’s my time to shine. Thank you to my advisor Sarah Fina. #ANDTHENEW #UNDISPUTED.”