On the biggest night in women's boxing history, Taylor and Serrano delivered. And then some.
NEW YORK — Katie Taylor retained her undisputed lightweight championship of the world, and cemented herself as a sporting legend in the process, with a split decision win over Amanda Serrano in the first women's boxing bout to headline Madison Square Garden in its 140-year history.
With an atmosphere from the reported sellout crowd of 19,187 so loud that the referee was struggling to hear the bell at the end of each of the 10 two-minute rounds, the three ringside judges scored it 97-93 and 96-93 for Taylor, with the third deeming it a Serrano fight at 96-94.
Taylor's boxing was at its most majestic here at the Garden, in a fight that would not only cement the legacy of both combatants but also the futures of many generations of fighters to come. However she was pinned down in the fifth round and subjected to brutal sustained Serrano offense.
Taylor's rally in the sixth could go down as the most important round of her career. And with a stellar counter-left leading the charge, she did enough to leave the Puerto Rican challenger in need of a knockout in the eyes of many as we entered the 10th and final frame.
Serrano certainly fought like she needed the finish in the last round, and what unfolded was a mesmerizing open exchange which ended the bout in a style fitting the occasion.
Winning co-promoter Eddie Hearn stated in the ring post-fight that he wants to give Taylor a homecoming bout in Ireland. And off the back of this incredible contest between the two top pound-for-pound best women's fighters on the planet, a rematch in an Irish stadium would be a red-hot ticket.
To check back on all of the updates, including results for the undercard and prelims, scroll through the liveblog comments below.
HOLY (bleep) WHAT A FINAL ROUND - what a tremendous open finish with both fighters exchanging. Serrano ended up cut badly on the right eye when all was said and done, and I think she'll be ruing not putting the finishing touches on Taylor in the fifth because my scorecard reads 7-3 Taylor in rounds.
The referee is having to watch the timekeeper in the closing stages of rounds for his cue, because he's struggling to hear the bell for the noise in the Garden. This round will probably split viewers more than any other. But Taylor's boxing continues to be superior for me.
Taylor's left is catching Serrano coming in time and time again, but this fight could easily come down to fine margins round per round (except the 5th at least) on the cards of the three people whose opinions matter most. For me, it's 5-3 Taylor.
This fight is fantastic. They are really opening up on each other but, thankfully for Taylor, she's able to avoid the danger she encountered in the fifth for the most part and get back to her style to outland. 4-2 to the champ, but everything to play for still.
HUGE round for Serrano, she really strings them together and has Taylor in serious deep water. Her best, most sustained offense of the fight so far and Taylor looked hurt. 3-2 in rounds to the champ, but will she be able to catch a second wind from that round?
Taylor is switching her approach with enough frequency and variety to keep the challenger guessing, and her tremendous hand speed is keeping her ahead on lands. 3-1 to the champion but Serrano is far from out of this fight.
Fantastic round. Taylor book ends the two minutes with great boxing to edge it, though she was on the receiving end in the middle of it. The bell sounds right after the best exchange f the fight so far. Champ slightly out in front, two rounds to one.
It's over! Smith draws stoppage in the 10th! He immediately went back to work at the start of the round and had Vargas in enough trouble on the ropes for it to get waved off. Big performance, huge win!
Great round from Smith, not only steadying back after an improved Vargas eighth but one that could potentially get him over the line in terms of the judges, though we'll see what those three say if it goes the distance. For now, it's 6-3 Beefy on my card.