Boxing results, takeaways: Katie Taylor, Amanda Serrano exceed expectation; Shakur Stevenson announces himself
Bot main events delivered incredible performances on Saturday night in both New York and Las Vegas
With a pair of marquee fights on opposite sides of the country, the sport of boxing took center stage in the United States on Saturday, including the biggest women's match in history.
Undisputed lightweight champion Katie Taylor (21-0, 6 KOs) edged seven-division champion Amanda Serrano (42-2-1, 30 KOs) via split decision in a fight of the year contender at New York's Madison Square Garden. Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, Shakur Stevenson (18-0, 9 KOs) provided a surgical dismantling of Oscar Valdez (30-1, 23 KOs) to unify 130-pound titles in a battle of unbeaten junior lightweight champions.
Let's take a closer look at the biggest takeaways from a wild night at the fights.
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1. Some way and somehow, Taylor-Serrano exceeded expectations
In the first female combat sports main event in the 140-year history of "The World's Most Famous Arena" in midtown Manhattan, Taylor and Serrano did everything in their power (and then some) to elevate their sport. This showdown between the top two pound-for-pound fighters in the game was a skillful war with dramatic swings of momentum. But it was also free of trash talk and some of the excesses often associated with boxing. Even with a disputed result from the split trio of judges at ringside, both fighters showed nothing but class and humility in praising one another after the fight. Even better, everyone associated with this instant classic, including promoters Eddie Hearn and Jake Paul, showed an immediate want to run in back (possibly in Taylor's native Ireland). Despite the hype and pressure, both Taylor and Serrano refused to take a backward step in a skillful and savage display of their future Hall-of-Fame talents. This was a special night that won't be forgotten soon and the sold-out crowd of 19,000-plus produced one of the most electric atmospheres for a big fight this country has seen in years.
2. However you scored Taylor-Serrano, you were probably right
No, seriously, the fight really was that close. If there was ever a women's boxing match that deserved equal rules to the men when it comes to three-minute rounds and 12-round title bouts, it was this one. Instead, the two-minute round setup was bound to create a potential scoring controversy if there were no knockdowns. Luckily, in this case, the split-decision end result was anything but a robbery. With the exception of a dominant Round 5, in which Serrano routinely hurt Taylor, there was enough two-way action in each remaining stanza for it to have gone either way. In the end, the judges preferred Taylor's counter combinations to the harder single shots landed by Serrano in the big moments. Yet to illustrate how close this fight really was, Serrano outlanded Taylor by a margin of 173 to 147, according to CompuBox, yet it was Taylor who was far more accurate by landing 39% of her total punches and nearly 47% of her power shots. The fight could've gone either way and instantly demanded a rematch. There's no reason this incredible rivalry can't end up being a trilogy, when all is said and done.
3. Taylor showed the heart of a lion
Despite not being the bigger puncher of the two, the 35-year-old Taylor showed insane heart to survive nearly being finished in Round 5 and stubbornly refused to go away. Not only did Taylor look out on her feet at least twice during the harrowing round, it was the onslaught she unleashed the following round to stand her ground and land the bigger, cleaner shots in Round 6 that might have won her the fight. Taylor refused to allow Serrano to build sustained momentum, even with a cut above her right eye and blood flowing from her nose. With the loud fan bases of both fighters from the Irish and Puerto Rican communities cheering them on, Taylor needed every bit of determination inside of her to pull out the most important victory of her career. This was a vintage fight that demanded an old school performance of toughness to get the job done.
4. Boxing's next great star has arrived
Shakur Stevenson, the 24-year-old southpaw, put on nothing short of a master class of hit and not get hit as he widely outpointed Valdez in a unanimous decision that included a knockdown in Round 6. Although he's not known as a power puncher, Stevenson was sharp and quick enough to land just about anything he wanted against Valdez, leaving the Mexican warrior's face cut and blotchy in the aftermath. It's rare when a boxer gets compared to someone as clinical as Hall of Famer Floyd Mayweather, but Stevenson actually deserves the mention in this case. He controlled distance with ease against Valdez and pieced him up with one combination after another. Not only will Stevenson be a fixture in the top 10 of just about every pound-for-pound list moving forward, it's not out of the question to wonder how soon it will be before he takes over the top spot. The 2016 Olympic silver medalist is a champion in two divisions and appears to have the speed, IQ and technique to eventually climb as high as welterweight when all is said and done.
5. Give us Stevenson vs. Vasiliy Lomachenko
Talk about a superfight in the making. Lomachenko, who has won titles in three divisions following an amateur career that produced a pair of Olympic gold medals, can still make 130 pounds with ease despite fighting at lightweight in recent years. Although he chose to sit out a shot at fighting unified 135-pound champion George Kambosos Jr. in order to suit up on the frontlines for his native Ukraine during its current conflict with Russia, the 34-year-old Lomachenko still finds himself ranked among the P4P best. A fight against Stevenson, regardless of which division it takes place at, has high-speed chess written all over it and could go on to be a passing of the torch from one generation's wizard to the next.
CBS Sports was with you throughout the entire way on Saturday for both events, so be sure to follow along with the live results and highlights below.
- via split decision (94-96, 97-93, 96-93)
- Keyshawn Davis def. Esteban Sanchez via sixth-round TKO
- via first-round knockout
- Liam Smith def. Jessie Vargas via 10th-round TKO
- Franchon Crews-Dezurn (c) def. Elin Cederroos via unanimous decision (99-91, 99-91, 97-93)
Official result: Shakur Stevenson def. Oscar Valdez via unanimous decision (117-110, 118-109, 118-109). Stevenson is now the unified WBO and WBC junior lightweight champion.
Shakur Stevenson vs. Oscar Valdez -- Round 12: Valdez, knowing he needed a miracle, tried to bull his way in and fire but was met by sharp counters from Stevenson. Valdez tried to fire to the body, catching Stevenson low but not backing off. Stevenson positively cracked Valdez with a right hook as the two men clinched inside. Stevenson then hit two heavy shots to Valdez's face against the ropes, just carrying his dominance through the final round. Stevenson hit a straight to the body and a few to the head before dancing and jogging around the ring, flexing before the fight was even over. Unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Stevenson (119-108)
Shakur Stevenson vs. Oscar Valdez -- Round 11: Stevenson worked his power left before turning Valdez with lead right hands and then cracking to the ribs. Valdez had nearly no success with his charges, Stevenson easily shrugging off the forward momentum before blitzing with a big combination. Valdez was largely stuck in neutral, getting absolutely blistered by Stevenson while missing most of his own shots. Easy work for Stevenson. Unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Stevenson (109-99)
Shakur Stevenson vs. Oscar Valdez -- Round 10: Valdez flurried against the ropes but Stevenson picked off almost every shot with his arms. Valdez did manage to get a left hand in good to the chin of Stevenson before flurrying back to the body. Stevenson landed a big right hand that forced Valdez to back up to the ropes. Valdez kept walking forward and landing to the body, having his best round since the third. Stevenson still maintained control with cleaner punches when Valdez was back at distance. A close round but shade it slightly to Stevenson. Unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Stevenson (99-90)
Shakur Stevenson vs. Oscar Valdez -- Round 9: Valdez landed four right hands to the body before throwing a left upstairs in a fine moment for him. Stevenson worked back to space and went right back to what had been so effective, the jab opening up the body and lead hook while also starting to mix in uppercuts that were cracking Valdez to the jaw. Stevenson landed another major left hand that Valdez ate well but was just another big moment for Stevenson in a fight that has been filled with such moments. Unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Stevenson (89-81)
Shakur Stevenson vs. Oscar Valdez -- Round 8: Valdez seemed more determined to get inside early in the round but was repeatedly nullified by Stevenson clinching to get the fight right back to the range where he dominates. Stevenson, again controlling range, was able to just tag Valdez over and over with the jab. Valdez landed a few good straight right hands but Stevenson dug in hard with a few body shots. Valdez did get in with a right to the body and a right hand upstairs before just missing with a massive hook. Stevenson is just firmly in control of this fight and Valdez needs the knockout if he wants to get this done. He can not go punch-for-punch with the better boxer. Unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Stevenson (79-72)
Shakur Stevenson vs. Oscar Valdez -- Round 7: Valdez again found himself stuck in the middle, allowing Stevenson to snipe him with clean punches. Valdez did manage to land a bit to the body. Valdez landed a pair of hard right hands that got in cleanly but Stevenson took them well. Stevenson received several warnings for holding out his arm to judge range, not pulling it back. Valdez charged inside and worked to the body before Stevenson shoved his head down. Another good round for Stevenson. Unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Stevenson (69-63)
Shakur Stevenson vs. Oscar Valdez -- Round 6: Stevenson unloaded with a hook and a follow up right that sent Valdez down as he fell into the ropes. A big knockdown scored for Stevenson. Stevenson continued to pour on the damage and Valdez's legs didn't look fully there. Valdez tried to close the distance but kept running into hammers from Stevenson before finally landing a right hand. Valdez continued to show grit and try to come forward but Stevenson was able to do nearly anything he wanted. Unofficial scorecard: 10-8 Stevenson (59-54)
Shakur Stevenson vs. Oscar Valdez -- Round 5: Valdez came forward and landed to the body before Stevenson got loose and started to let go with heavy blows. Valdez landed an overhand right before bull rushing Stevenson into the corner and flurrying to the body once again. Stevenson let loose with a big uppercut to start a combination, continuing to also wing the overhand left. Big left hand landed from Stevenson as Valdez tried to close the distance. Stevenson then poured it on late in the round. Unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Stevenson (49-46)
Shakur Stevenson vs. Oscar Valdez -- Round 4: Valdez pushed forward again early but didn't get much done before Stevenson started to work his jab and lead hook to the body. Valdez started standing close to Stevenson without letting his hands go, allowing Stevenson to potshot him. After a clash of heads, Valdez bulled inside and landed a series of hard body punches before winging to the head. Valdez with a weird moment of grabbing Stevenson's fist, which was stuck out as a rangefinder and yanking him forward. Valdez was simply to inactive when standing in front of Stevenson that round. Unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Stevenson (39-37)
Shakur Stevenson vs. Oscar Valdez -- Round 3: Stevenson dropped a good shot to the body and moved out of the way as Valdez tried to charge forward and hit the body. Valdez landed three straight right hands and started to get rolling offensively a bit. Stevenson stayed calm and continued to work his game, sticking out a hard jab even as Valdez landed more body shots. Valdez landed more right straights and found better results with his pressure attack. Valdez landed a few more late before a bad low blow from Stevenson before the end of the round. Valdez's best round so far. Unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Valdez (29-28 Stevenson)
Shakur Stevenson vs. Oscar Valdez -- Round 2: Stevenson went right to work with his jab, using that to open up the lead right hook from his southpaw stance. Stevenson's left hand stumbled Valdez a bit as he continued to do seemingly anything he wanted, landing upstairs and down and with any power shot he felt like throwing. Valdez tried to charge in and Stevenson easily clinched up and got the fight right back to the center of the ring. Valdez finally started to land to the body a bit as he pushed forward. Valdez got a bit more going late once he could start getting to the body. Still, no discussion who won the round. Unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Stevenson (20-18)