Amanda Serrano belongs in the same conversation with Manny Pacquiao and Oscar De La Hoya. They are the only three boxers in the century-plus history of the sport to win world titles in six or more weight divisions.
But when the conversation shifts focus to the riches and prestige that come along with such a collection of championships, Serrano’s name vanishes instantly. The big houses, the fancy cars, the lavish lifestyle. Those are adorned on male boxers.
Female boxers have yet to become even small stars, let alone household names in houses beyond their own. They’re barely on television, let alone headlining cards on pay-per-view or pay cable or streaming sites.
That financial disparity led Serrano, from Brooklyn, into mixed martial arts. The Puerto Rican fighter has her second MMA fight Saturday in Combate Americas at Casino Del Sol in Tuscon, Arizona. She’s the main event. And it will be televised.
“Being my second MMA fight, I got more respect, more money than ever in boxing,” said Serrano, who won her sixth boxing title last month.
Serrano, who turned 30 on Tuesday, will face Mexico’s Erendira Ordonez, with the flyweight bout airing on Univision and streaming on DAZN.
In her MMA debut last April for Combate, Serrano fought to a draw with Corina Herrera. It was something of a wake-up call for Serrano.
“When I went in the cage, and after that first kick, I was like oh [expletive], I forgot this is MMA, this isn’t boxing,” she said.
The transition from boxing to MMA is not uncommon for female fighters. Holly Holm was a multiple-time world champion boxer with a 33-2-3 record, moved to kickboxing, then became UFC champion by knocking out Ronda Rousey. Heather Hardy, another Brooklyn-based boxing champion, also fights in Bellator MMA.
Serrano worked with Holm and other MMA fighters on the movie “Fight Valley,” which is when she and her manager first started thinking about making the move. So far, it has paid off.
“It’s kind of embarrassing and absolutely a shame that we boxed for so many years and won so many titles in so many divisions and we struggled to get on an opener in boxing,” manager Jordan Maldonado said. “And here we are in our second MMA fight and not only are we getting the main event, but we opened up with a co-main event on national television.”
Serrano is 35-1-1 with 26 knockouts as a boxer. She said her biggest payday was $25,000. Both Serrano and Maldonado said she made more money in her MMA debut and will do the same with Saturday’s fight.
Whether Serrano is completely done with boxing remains to be seen. Even she isn’t entirely certain.
“It’s up for grabs,” Serrano said. “There’s only big fights for me now in boxing, and there’s not so many of them . . . I want to give my all to MMA like I did in boxing.”
MMA promoters have been far quicker to showcase female fighters than boxing promoters. In 2009, Strikeforce headlined a card with Gina Carano vs. Cris Cyborg. Rousey and Miesha Tate became stars in Strikeforce. In 2012, with Rousey as the frontwoman, the UFC began its women’s division. She headlined the UFC 157 pay-per-view on Feb. 23, 2013. Since that night, female fighters often headline UFC cards or fight in the co-main event.
“They’ve had opportunities to be showcased on television,” Serrano said. “When Dana White signed Ronda Rousey and she was having exciting fights and putting everybody in armbars in 10 seconds, people started gravitating toward that and saying, ‘Wow these girls can fight as well.’”