Legendary boxing referee Joe Cortez has seen, and refereed, some of the greatest Puerto Rican boxers in their prime and believes Amanda Serrano is up there with some of the greats in the sport.
In an interview with Fightful, Cortez, a Puerto Rican referee who has been a part of hundreds of world title fights, said Serrano is a sure-fire Hall of Famer and one of the greatest boxers from the island of Puerto Rico. Serrano is fighting Dahiana Santana on the undercard of the Andre Berto vs. Shawn Porter card from the Barclays Center.
Should Serrano defeat Santana for the vacant WBO women’s bantamweight title, she would win a world title in a fifth weight class, a feat never done in Puerto Rico’s long history with the sport. Some of the country’s greatest champions, such as Miguel Cotto, Hector “Macho” Camacho, Wilfredo Benitez and Felix Trinidad, have won world titles in numerous weight classes, but not five different divisions. Cortez is rooting for Serrano to make history and believes that she will win the title.
“She is a great talent and has tremendous heart,” Cortez said. “I think that she will win her fifth world title… She has great potential and should be, hopefully, in the International Boxing Hall of Fame as one of the great ones from Puerto Rico.”
Serrano, the current WBO women's super bantamweight champion, is just one of several female boxing stars leading the charge in a surge of popularity for women’s boxing. Serrano had already headline a telecast on Showtime for the first time in more than a decade in her last fight, a unanimous decision victory over Yazmin Rivas.
Boxing is just one of several sports where women have been viewed more as stars. Other combat sports, such as mixed martial arts and professional wrestling, have also gotten more popular thanks to recent female stars. Cortez said the sport is entering a new era, an era where women can thrive and are thriving as athletes and as role models.
“It’s a new generation,” Cortez said. “Female boxing it’s the in-thing now, rightfully so. I have three daughters myself, so I’m glad seeing women doing stuff in boxing and in any sport. I think they should have equal rights such as anybody else to do what they want to do, [make] their dreams come true and be a fighter like Serrano is. Now you’re going to see 50 percent of the fans are going to end up being female and I think that is great for boxing.”
Fightful will have complete coverage of Serrano vs. Santana, as well as the rest of the card, live from the Barclays Center on April 22. Serrano’s bout will be televised live on Showtime Extreme.