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Amanda Serrano: Focused on Fighting
by Bernie McCoy
March 19, 2012

(MAR 19) It had been 17 months since I last walked down Weirfield St. in Brooklyn and I was heading for the same place, Kidz Fitness Gym. The same imposing sentinel was at the front entrance, Jordan Maldonado, surveying his domain on this unseasonably warm March morning and, as always, loaded to overflow with boxing talk, most of it right on target. In other words, very little had changed since my last trip to the Ridgewood section in the borough of churches in the city of New York. But inside the gym, where Maldonado headed up the support team for Amanda Serrano, things had changed considerably for that 23 year old female boxer.

In August, 2010, I wrote that Kidz Fitness might just be home to the best female featherweight fighter in New York. Today, you can edit the phrase "might just be." Amanda Serrano, at 14-0-1 is the best New York female featherweight, by a big margin. And she's on the cusp of busting through on a much wider level of dominance in the most competitive weight class, 126-130 lbs, in the sport.

Seventeen months ago, Serrano had just won a surprisingly easy four round decision over Nydia Feliciano, who at the time, was considered the the other highly regarded, up and coming, New York female featherweight. In the succeeding months, Serrano worked her way through eight wins, including three over tough Ela Nunez, the last on February 17, in a bout that many observers are touting as an early favorite for 2012 female fight of the year.

Questions, of course, were raised about why Serrano fought the same fighter four times (the first bout, November 2009, was a draw) when there were other "good" bouts "out there." Not surprisingly, Jordon Maldonado had the answer, when I asked that question shortly after walking into the gym. "Look, we had a bunch of offers for fights, some good, some not so good, but what we wanted was the best competition for Amanda and we judged that meant more rounds with Nunez. Was that the easy way to go? Hell, no! Ela is as tough as they come, she's an 'honest' fighter; she comes prepared to battle every time and she leaves it all in the ring. As far as Amanda was concerned, it was exactly the right move for her career. Each Nunez bout was the right fight at the right time and now we got what we've been waiting for."

What they've been "waiting for" comes April 27 in Sweden, ten rounds with Frida Wallberg, the WBC super featherweight champion.

Amanda Serrano put the strategy in further perspective, "Titles are fine, but boxing should be about beating whoever is in the ring with you. And if you're serious about your career, that other fighter should be a test, not a walkover "W". From the start, my goal has been to beat the best fighters available and I think, for the most part, I've accomplished that. Sure four fights with Ela might seem, to some people, like too many, but , at the time, they were the toughest fights available to me. I don't get much from first or second round wins. I certainly don't get much work and I don't get much satisfaction. But stepping in with a fighter like Nunez and coming away with three wins, that's not only a lot of good work, but it's very rewarding and does a lot for your confidence. Our last bout was eight rounds of non-stop fighting and after the final bell, I still felt I had a lot left in the tank. That's a big boost for me as I look towards going ten rounds in Sweden. You can't get something like that in the gym, no matter how hard you train.

Asked about going to Europe to fight a European fighter, Serrano was realistic. "I hear all the talk about how I need a knockout to win. I don't know if that's true, but if it is, then that's what I'll go for. Hopefully if it goes the distance, the judges will make a fair call. This is a WBC title fight and that organization has a reputation for bringing in fair judges. We'll see. But, I'm not kidding myself, I'm going across the ocean as an underdog, no question about that. Not only is Frida the champion, but she's holding a lot of other advantages, especially fighting in her home country. But, you know what, that's fine because I've been there, right from the start. When I went upstate (Albany, NY) for my first pro bout with Jackie Trevilino, I was the "opponent." I was fighting in her territory, in front of her crowd. Same thing over there (Sweden), Wallberg's the favorite and she probably should be, she has the belt. But when the bell rings, it's just going to be Frida and me in the ring and in ten rounds or less, one of us will have the belt. And like I said, winning a title is great, but beating a great fighter is really what our sport is all about."

Serrano is well aware that April 27 in Sweden is a turning point in a career that has, thus far, been a successful journey from a small Brooklyn gym to the chance for a world title. But she's also able to bring an even more basic perspective to the bout and her sport, "We're both undefeated and as far as I'm concerned it will be just as satisfying to hear the words, 'the winner and still undefeated, the new WBC champion....' because that will mean that I have another win over a very good fighter and I still have an undefeated record."

Serrano's outlook on her sport goes well beyond her twenty-three years. It's a singular focus that has carried her successfully, thus far, through a career of fourteen wins including nine KOs. Famous gyms, reality shows and documentary films about "women who fight" are pretty much foreign to Weirfied Street in Brooklyn. In this neighborhood, things are reduced to the most basic element and in Kidz Fitness Gym, distractions to the sport of boxing, the career of Amanda Serrano and the upcoming chance at winning another tough fight are kept to a minimum. Will Serrano bring back the WBC title from Sweden? That'll be decided on April 27, another tough fight in another tough venue. But whatever the outcome, it won't be a result of a lack of focus from inside the doors of Kidz Fitness gym on Weirfield Street in Brooklyn.

Bernie McCoy

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