Serrano back on track, unifies 126-pound titles


MANCHESTER, England — Amanda Serrano resumed normal service on Saturday, responding to her second professional defeat earlier this year by picking up another world title with a unanimous-decision win over Sarah Mahfoud.

In a mostly one-sided affair, Serrano earned convincing scores of 99-92, 97-93, 97-93 to unify the world featherweight titles at the AO Arena. She rebounded from a decision loss to Ireland’s Katie Taylor for all four world lightweight titles in April.

Serrano (43-2-1, 30 KO), ESPN’s No. 3 pound-for-pound fighter and No. 1 featherweight, now holds three of the four world title belts at 126 pounds. It was her 14th win in 16 world title fights.

Erika Cruz (15-1, 3 KOs), 32, from Mexico, holds the WBA featherweight title and is a potential future opponent for Serrano if she wants to become undisputed world champion. Another option for Serrano would be to step up a division again and face the winner of the junior lightweight title unification clash between Americans Mikaela Mayer (17-0, 5 KOs), the IBF and WBO junior champion, and Alycia Baumgardner (12-1, 7 KOs), the WBC titleholder, who meet in London on Oct. 15.

For Serrano, a Brooklyn-based Puerto Rican, Saturday’s fight marked a convincing return following a split-decision defeat to Taylor (21-0, 6 KOs) at Madison Square Garden. Serrano did her best work in the first half of the fight, before allowing Mahfoud to assert herself more in the later rounds, but the decision was never in doubt.

Mahfoud (11-1, 3 KO), 32, from Denmark, was making a second defense of her IBF title. In the biggest fight of her career, she quickly discovered Serrano’s experience and ring IQ were too much for her to overcome.

Serrano, 33, had not fought at 126 pounds for just over a year but looked sharp, and her punches were a lot more powerful than what Mahfoud could respond with.

Serrano put Mahfoud under more pressure in the second round, and the Dane ended the round with blood streaming down her face from a cut on top of her head.

By the fourth round, Mahfoud was in survival mode as Serrano loaded up and looked to land big shots.

Serrano’s pace dipped a bit in Round 6, but she caught Mahfoud with a big overhand right in the seventh. Mahfoud never landed anything significant, as Serrano darted in and out of range to land her shots.

Mahfoud bravely rallied in the last round, attacking Serrano like she had never done before in the fight to make it a difficult end for the champion, but it otherwise was a stroll toward another title triumph.

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