The pair were the first female fighters to headline at the iconic New York City venue, and their title fight in front of a sold-out crowd lived up to the billing of being the biggest bout in the history of women’s boxing.
Irishwoman Taylor secured the defining victory of a career that has seen the 35-year-old win Olympic gold, hold world titles in two weight classes, and go unbeaten – a record she kept in tact with this win against Serrano.
Taylor started as the sharper fighter, managing her range well and catching her Puerto Rican opponent with several well-timed counter left hooks.
Serrano maintained her gameplan of walking down Taylor, however, and in the second round the unified featherweight champion began to find homes for stinging left straights from her southpaw stance.
The pattern of the first two rounds carried into the third and fourth, and it was late in Round 4 that Taylor suffered a cut above her left eye and appeared to be winded by a body shot.
Then came the most dramatic frame of the fight, with the women wildly trading punches in the corner – though they might as well have been in a phone both – as Serrano’s shots began to take greater effect.
The 33-year-old and Taylor moved into the centre of the ring, where Serrano’s power and variety of punches had the defending champion in trouble – almost out on her feet.
Neither woman had ever been knocked down ahead of this bout, however, and Taylor was able to draw on reserves of resilience to make it into Round 6. She then took more punishment as Serrano seemingly pulled ahead in the contest, before a less eventful seventh round offered Taylor some respite and a way back into the fight.
The Irishwoman appeared to get a second wind, springing into life in the eighth round to rediscover the form of her earlier left hooks, although Serrano was working Taylor’s body impressively.
Taylor’s right hand became a more effective weapon in Round 9, and her hooks in particular stood out in the final round as she cut Serrano and set up a furious final sequence in which both women swung for the Madison Square Garden rafters.
The result was left to the judges, who scored the fight 96-94 to Serrano, 97-93 to Taylor, and 96-93 to Taylor.
As such, Taylor remained unbeaten and retained her undisputed lightweight title as the Madison Square Garden crowd erupted with noise.