Erika Cruz to Defend WBA Junior Featherweight Title Against Nazarena Romero

Erika Cruz is going on the defensive…

The 33-year-old  Mexican professional boxer will defend her WBA junior featherweight title against Nazarena Romero on Saturday, May 11, per promoter Matchroom Boxing.

Erika Cruz,The fight at the Palenque de la Feria National de San Marcos in Aguascalientes, Mexico, will be the co-main event of Eduardo Hernandez‘s junior lightweight bout against Daniel Lugo.

Cruz (17-2, 3 KOs) is a two-division champion. She won the WBA featherweight belt with a technical decision victory over Jelena Mrdjenovich in April 2021. She made two successful defenses before losing the title to Amanda Serrano in a unification bout in February 2023. Cruz then moved up in weight and defeated Mayerlin Rivas in November to grab the WBA title at 122 pounds.

Her focus now is on title unification.

“I’m stepping into the ring not just to defend my title, but to conquer,” Cruz said in a news release. “Romero may be the mandatory opponent, but my sights are set on bigger dreams. Yamileth Mercado [WBC], Ellie Scotney [IBF], Segolene Lefebvre [WBO] — I’m coming for all the belts. Romero won’t be the one to stand in the way of my destiny.”

Romero (13-0-1, 7 KOs), of Argentina, will be fighting in her second consecutive title bout. In June, she challenged Rivas for the WBA junior featherweight belt, but the bout ended in a technical draw after Romero, who suffered a cut over her left eye because of an accidental clash of heads, was unable to continue. She now has another chance at the same belt against Cruz.

“I think my time has come,” Romero said. “In my life nothing was, is, or will be easy. I was born for this, and I feel like the best of all. I prepare like a champion, I think like a champion and I need to live like a champion.”

Amanda Serrano to Fight Katie Taylor in Highly Anticipated Rematch

Amanda Serrano isn’t resting on her laurels…

The 34-year-old Puerto Rican professional boxer, mixed martial artist and professional wrestler, who defeated Erika Cruz on Saturday in an undisputed featherweight title fight, will fight Katie Taylor on May 20.

Amanda SerranoIt’s a rematch of their epic fight last April at Madison Square Garden.

Taylor won that bout by split decision to defend her undisputed lightweight title.

The rematch will take place in Dublin, Ireland, where the two will once again fight for Taylor’s lightweight belts. The location has not been announced, but 82,000-seat Croke Park and 13,000-seat 3Arena have been mentioned as possibilities.

After Serrano beat Cruz by unanimous decision on Saturday night, Taylor joined her in the ring to announce the fight.

“This is more than a dream come true — my debut in Ireland against Amanda Serrano, ‘The Real Deal’ Amanda Serrano,” Taylor said. “This is incredible and as I said, the last fight was epic, and I expect nothing less for the next one.”

Serrano’s trainer, Jordan Maldonado, said a rematch against Taylor in Ireland was something that was always part of the discussions — it had even been brought up as early as the post-fight news conference following Taylor-Serrano I — and Maldonado said the only way they wanted to do the rematch was if it was in Ireland.

They said they understood the importance of that to Taylor.

“She fought us here in New York. We’re Puerto Rican, but this is basically our home,” Maldonado said. “One of the things that I had said is the only way I would take the Katie Taylor fight is if it is in Ireland.

“She deserves it.”

Serrano, who has won titles in seven divisions, told ESPN in December and January that the only fight she would move up in weight for would be a rematch against Taylor.

“A lot of people want to see the fight, and I think it solidifies women’s boxing,” Serrano told ESPN in December. “I think it puts the exclamation point and it shows that we’re here and we’re going to continue to take on challenges.”

The first Serrano-Taylor fight was a flashpoint for women’s boxing. The first women boxers to headline at Madison Square Garden, Taylor and Serrano sold out one of the most iconic arenas in the sport. They put on a close, competitive fight that won Fight of the Year from multiple publications and Moment of the Year from many others.

The bout helped continue to elevate the careers of Taylor, 36, and Serrano, two of the three best pound-for-pound fighters in the world along with undisputed middleweight champion Claressa Shields.

“It hit me the next day when I realized the people that tuned in to watch the fight, this was not only boxing fans, it was celebrities outside of boxing that knew who we were, what we were doing,” Serrano said. “Making history. It was just altogether, the week leading up to the fight, the promotion, how Madison Square Garden was promoting the fight, it was just so amazing.”

Since fighting Serrano, Taylor (22-0, 6 KO) beat Karen Carabajal in October. Serrano (44-2-1, 30 KO) beat Sarah Mahfoud in September to win the IBF featherweight title, and Saturday’s win over Cruz made her the undisputed featherweight champion.

Maldonado and Serrano said they’ll begin a true fight camp for Taylor in the middle of March and do some light training until then.

Amanda Serrano Defeats Erika Cruz to Become Undisputed Featherweight Champion

Amanda Serrano is an undisputed champion.

In a bloody bout, the 34-year-old Puerto Rican professional boxer, mixed martial artist and professional wrestler defeated Erika Cruz on Saturday night in an undisputed featherweight title fight at Hulu Theater, with punches thrown for 10 rounds at a near constant rate.

Amanda SerranoIn the end, Serrano picked up a 98-92, 98-92, 97-93 unanimous decision that made her the undisputed featherweight champion of the world and the first undisputed champion, male or female, of the four-belt era from Puerto Rico.

It was a fight that lived up to its intensity inside the ring, flurry-after-flurry from both fighters as blood streamed down Cruz’s face every round due to an accidental headbutt in the third round that opened up a nasty cut.

It didn’t matter. It was the type of punch-trading that was worthy of a headlined fight in New York City for an undisputed title — one culminated with a standing ovation. After the fight, waiting for the scores, Cruz was getting her cut looked at — Serrano was dancing in her corner of the ring.

It’s a fight that will be remembered for its brutality and its near-constant throwing of punches. Serrano came close to knocking down Cruz in the sixth round, which was by far her best. But it didn’t matter how much Serrano threw, Cruz kept coming back, again and again, throwing punches until the end of the fight.

“She’s a Mexican champion, we knew that,” Serrano said. ” … That’s what we expected. That’s what we trained for.”

Serrano said she “went back to the basics” at the second half of the fight, throwing one-two combinations over and over again. As the 10th round started, Serrano raised her arms in the air to egg on the crowd.

And then the two of them just kept throwing over and over again. It looked like Serrano might have knocked Cruz down in the 10th, but it was waved off.

By the end, Cruz’s blood was everywhere — on her shorts, on her top, on Serrano, on Serrano’s shorts, coming down her face and it didn’t matter. She just kept going and going and going.

It was a fight that was anticipated as such.

The Hulu Theater was packed over an hour before the main event, cheering particularly hard whenever a Puerto Rican fighter — including Olympian Yankiel Rivera, who opened the main telecast with a unanimous decision win over Fernando Diaz — did anything of note. Serrano wore trunks with the Puerto Rican flag on it and her name on the front of them in glittering silver.

Serrano, for the second time in a year, headlined a card at Madison Square Garden. Last April, it was against Katie Taylor in the big room. On Saturday, it was more history for her in the smaller Hulu Theater, but the significance remained the same.

As a cavalcade of the best in female boxing watched from ringside, including Taylor, the undisputed lightweight champion, undisputed middleweight champion Claressa Shields and super middleweight champion Franchon Crews-Dezurn, Serrano and Alycia Baumgardner joined their ranks among undisputed female fighters.

And it ended in a day with two more undisputed champions — Serrano at featherweight and Baumgardner, who won a unanimous decision in the co-main event for the undisputed junior lightweight title — to their ranks.

Amanda Serrano to Face Erika Cruz in Undisputed Featherweight Title Bout

Amanda Serrano will be fighting for undisputed status in February…

The 34-year-old Puerto Rican professional boxer, mixed martial artist and professional wrestler, the current IBF, WBC and WBO featherweight titleholder, will face WBA champion Erika Cruz in an undisputed featherweight title fight, according to ESPN.

Amanda SerranoThe fight between Serrano and Cruz will headline a card on February 4 at the Hulu Theater in New York City.

If Serrano wins, it will be the first time the seven-division titleholder would be an undisputed champion in a division, and she would be the first Puerto Rican undisputed champ, male or female.

Serrano (43-2-1, 30 KO) was last in the ring in September, when she beat Sarah Mahfoud by unanimous decision to win the IBF featherweight title. Serrano is ESPN’s No. 3 pound-for-pound fighter.

She fought twice last year, against Mahfoud and Katie Taylor, a split-decision loss at the big room of Madison Square Garden in what was named ESPN‘s women’s fight of the year in 2022.

Cruz (15-1, 3 KO), 35, won the WBA belt in April, 2021, when she beat Jelena Mrdjenovich by technical decision.

She since defended the title twice, beating Melissa Esquivel by split decision in 2021 and Mrdjenovich by unanimous decision in a rematch in September. Cruz suffered her only loss in 2016, a majority decision loss to Alondra Gonzalez Flores in a four-round fight in Cruz’s second career fight.

For all of Serrano’s accomplishments – and there have been many since she began fighting professionally in 2009 – she has never become an undisputed four-belt champion, something she would become should she beat Cruz.

This could be the beginning of a big year for Serrano, who has said she would like to face Katie Taylor in a rematch of an April fight that saw Taylor win a split decision over Serrano for Taylor’s undisputed lightweight titles.

But first, Serrano said, she knew she wanted to fight Cruz.

“After Cruz,” Serrano told ESPN recently. “It’s a great storyline. Undisputed versus undisputed champion, and of course it’s a different weight class, but it is what it is. The first fight was great, and I think the second fight would be even better.”

Serrano said she would go up to lightweight to fight Taylor a second time should that fight happen.

ESPN previously reported Ramla Ali is also expected to fight on the February 4 card.