Fighter of the Year and Other Achievements; Welcome to 2024
By David A. Avila
It was a year that saw countries like Thailand, Japan and France go full throttle into the women’s boxing world and we also saw a small group of champions strive even harder to push the sport even further.
None were more strident than Amanda “The Real Deal” Serrano, the Fighter of the Year for 2023.
“Thank you. I’m so honored,” said Serrano via text.
The seven-weight division world champion Serrano opened the year in 2023 with a unification fight against Mexico’s Erika “Dinamita” Cruz on February 4. As expected, whenever Boricuas fight Mexicans, it was total war.
For 10 ferocious rounds the two southpaw featherweight champions slugged it out from close range. At times their heads collided while they exchanged blows inside and blood emerged from both fighters. But in the end, it was Serrano’s accuracy in a firefight that separated her from Cruz.
Serrano became the first ever Puerto Rican to become undisputed world champion.
“I’m such a proud Puerto Rican and to be able to give back to my island really touched me,” said Serrano.
The year was just getting started for Serrano.
Next, the Brooklyn resident signed to fight another Brooklyn resident and former foe Heather Hardy in defense of the undisputed featherweight championship. They met in Texas of all places in midsummer.
Once again, the two rivals put on a show with Serrano again showcasing her fighting skills against a very determined Hardy. It had been four years since they first met in Manhattan for the WBO featherweight title. Chapter two was just as entertaining as the fans roared their approval. Later that night, Jake Paul would defeat MMA star Nate Diaz on the fight card that generated more than 400,000 pay per views and 20,000 ticket sales.
The year was not finished yet.
In October, Serrano announced that she would be facing Brazil’s Danila Ramos in a fight scheduled for 12 three-minute rounds. No other female undisputed world champion had ever dared demand that before. Of course, Serrano has always been the daring type. It’s what separates her from most prizefighters. She’s fearless.
While other champions feared repercussion from sanctioning organizations, promoters, and managers, the quiet but determined Serrano not only demanded her fight with Ramos be staged at 12 three-minute rounds, she also convinced more than two dozen champions and former champions like Laila Ali to put their names on an edict demanding equality and publicly plastered it all over social media.
Serrano also made a video recording that was played before more than several hundred in attendance at the International Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame ceremony in Las Vegas. All applauded upon hearing and seeing the Serrano video.
It was another example of Serrano pushing the envelope for women’s boxing. And it was also an additional reason that she is this year’s Fighter of the Year.
Other candidates were Mexico’s Yesica Nery Plata and Denmark’s Dina Thorslund who both demonstrated they were eager to determine the best in their division in unification fights. And, also, there was the two-fight battle between Ireland’s Katie Taylor and England’s Chantelle Cameron that had the boxing world watching.
But this year Serrano went beyond the prize ring in challenging the system to give female fighter’s the right to choose time limits and the number of championship rounds. She has become a determined crusader for female boxer’s rights and advancement.
Amanda Serrano is this year’s Fighter of the Year.
This year we have two winners. First, Japan’s Miyo Yoshida and the other is America’s Franchon Crews-Dezurn both re-acquired world titles. Both were also big underdogs and showed why they were world champions in the first place.
Yoshida was tabbed to fight Australia’s Ebanie Bridges for the bantamweight title and won with two week’s notice. That’s the mark of a professional to always be ready. Yoshida claimed her second division world title. Formerly, she was a two-time super flyweight champion and showed her pedigree.
The next winner, Crews-Dezurn, was tabbed to lose by oddsmakers despite being the undisputed super middleweight champion. They must have forgot. The Baltimore fighter charged forward and used her rough and tumble style of fighting to upset formerly undefeated knockout puncher Shadasia Green.
Both Yoshida and Crews-Dezurn proved you can never count them out.
Side note: expect Ebanie Bridges to be mentioned here next year.
KO of the Year
Gabriela Fundora battered Arely Mucino and ended the IBF flyweight title fight by knockout in the fifth round. Using her 5’9” height and reach to keep the multi-champion at bay, Fundora then used a punishing assortment of blows to end the title match emphatically in Los Angeles.
Fight of the Year
The first match between undisputed lightweight champion Katie Taylor and undisputed super lightweight champion Chantelle Cameron ignited the interest of boxing fans all over the world. It was also the first time Taylor fought professionally in her native Ireland. It was a doozy. Their second fight was more a clinch-fest, but the first fight had all the action and drama a world title fight of mega dimensions deserved.
More Fight News
Svitlana Vasylevska (4-5) defeated Amy Naert (10-3) by unanimous decision after six rounds on Monday Dec. 25. The bantamweight fight was held in West Vlaanderen;
Johani Rochi (1-0) beat Katerina Lisova (0-1) by decision after four rounds on Saturday Dec. 30. The welterweight fight was held in Prague.
On Saturday Jan. 6, featherweights Elina Tissen (25-3) and Jane Kavulani (19-17-5) meet 10 rounds at Munster.
Silvia Bignami (4-0) won by unanimous decision after six rounds versus Florencia Villarreal (1-2-1) on Friday Dec. 29. The flyweight bout took place in Rome.
Andrea Gomiero (4-0) knocked out Klaudia Vigh (3-41-2) in the third round on Tuesday Dec. 26. The middleweight fight was held in Veneto.
Honoka Kano (7-1-2) beat Noa Sakamoto (5-1) by decision after eight rounds on Tuesday Dec. 26. The Japanese atomweight title fight was held at Tokyo. Also, flyweights Ai Sugimoto (4-5-1) beat Miyuki Katsuya (3-4-2) in six; Ran Higuchi (2-2-2) beat Chiaki Yasui (2-2) in four; and bantamweight Chiyomi Wada (1-0) beat Masako Numakura (0-4) in four.
Featherweights Nervena Markovic (0-8-1) and Maja Pandurov (0-0-1) fought to a draw after four rounds on Friday Dec. 29. The match was held in Becej.
Nikola Izova (3-2-3) defeated Diana Kulinova (4-7) by decision after four rounds on Saturday Dec. 30. The super lightweight match was held in Bratislava.
Gabriela Timar (10-1) won by unanimous decision after 10 rounds versus Pimchanok Thepjanda (8-4) on Tuesday Dec. 26. The regional light flyweight title fight was held in Berne. Also, flyweight Laura Wollenmann (9-1) defeated Clothilde Del Ben (5-3) by decision after 10 rounds.
Hin Tin Chang (4-0) beat Peeyalux Sanpokang (4-2) by decision after 10 rounds on Thursday Dec. 28. The light flyweight fight took place in Bangkok. Also, flyweight Viviana Ruiz (8-1) won by split decision over Phannaluk Kongsang (12-13-1) after 10 rounds; super flyweight Loetizia Campana (6-8) beat Ketsara Jatpukdee (5-3) by decision after eight rounds; and super featherweight Jessica Adams (3-2-1) knocked out Somwang Sawinchai (2-9-1) in two rounds.