Amanda Serrano wants to fight in 3 minute rounds. Will boxing respond?

Amanda Serrano was overwhelmed with pure joy. Her face lit up as her scores were read and several of her featherweight championship belts were placed on her right shoulder and waist. She had dominated Danila Ramos en route to a unanimous decision victory in October, strengthening her case for being considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport and a trailblazer.

Serrano’s performance came in the first unified women’s championship fight contested over 12 three-minute rounds in boxing history. Until then, female boxers could only compete in matches with 10 (or fewer) two-minute rounds each.

“I really enjoyed the three minutes,” Serrano said after the fight in Florida. “I was able to set up my punches a little more and I think I’ll stick with the three minutes. I know the women out there, they’ve seen that it’s possible, that we can do it. And Danila and I have shown that we are capable. There will be a lot of women out there who will say, “Yes, they did it.” Now I can do it.'”

The sport changed that night. At least for fights with the WBA, IBF, WBO, IBO and Ring Magazine championships on the line. Serrano’s WBC belt wasn’t that night, and now the world knows why.

Last week Serrano announced she would vacate her WBC belt because the sanctioning body would not support women fighting under the same rules as their male counterparts.

Serrano, in a cutthroat one-man sport where women have had far fewer opportunities than men to fight and earn a living, used Instagram to publicly express his displeasure with the WBC.

“Going forward, if a sanctioning body doesn’t want to give me and my fellow fighters the choice to fight like men, then I won’t fight for that sanctioning body,” he said. “The WBC has refused to move the sport towards equality. So I renounce their title. Thanks to the sanctioning bodies that have evolved for equality! If you want to face me in the ring, you have a choice. “I did mine.”

WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman said his organization made this decision to protect female fighters from suffering potential long-term harm in the ring and released the following statement to Atletico:

“Boxing by its nature requires safety guidelines, rules and protection. The rules are not discriminatory, arbitrary or sexist. The rules are based on science, expertise, fairness and, above all, safety. Our mission has always been and will always be to reduce the risk of anyone entering the ring, man or woman, in this combat sport, which is not a game. The WBC has chosen to honor these rules, principles and values ​​and will continue to research women’s boxing, support women’s boxing and protect any woman who participates in this incredible sport.

“We believe every woman has a choice, whether to compete under WBC rules or compete in untested waters with much uncertainty and greater risks to her own life, that of her opponents and their quality of life after activity in the ring.”

Amanda Serrano retains her championship belts after defeating Danila Ramos in October. (Alex Menendez/Getty Images)

Studies over the years have differed on the risks for women in boxing.

The WBC has partnered with the Pink Concussions Professional Advisory Board, a group of doctors that “focuses on pre-injury education and post-injury medical care for women and girls with brain injuries, including concussions sustained from sports, violence , accidents or military service. “ Their work concluded that women were shown to have greater susceptibility, symptom scores, and prolonged symptoms of traumatic brain injury than men.

“Whatever the cause, there is still a gender difference in concussions,” the advisory committee said in a statement. “Boxing carries the obvious inherent risk of head injury. One of the ways to help mitigate head trauma is by changing the rules, which includes the number and length of rounds.”

In July 2020 revision Published in the Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine, 25 studies on the topic were examined. It was concluded that “female athletes appear to suffer more severe concussions than male athletes, in part due to a lower biomechanical tolerance threshold for head impacts. Additionally, concussions can alter the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, resulting in worse symptoms and amenorrhea.”

A year later, however, another study was published in the same publication. A group of 23 amateur fighters took part in 53 training sessions and six boxing and mixed martial arts competitions. They recorded 896 head impacts: 827 in practice and 69 during competition. The final results showed that “men experienced a greater number of impacts than women per practice session. However, there was no significant difference between men and women in terms of impact magnitude.”

In many mixed martial arts promotions, such as the UFC, fights between men and women have no difference in length and round length.

Nakisa Bidarian, founder of Most Valuable Promotions and Serrano’s advisor, said the lack of concrete conclusions is why her fighter is pushing for parity in rounds and time.

“If there was a categorical long-term study that said women are more prone to concussions than men and that’s very dangerous, obviously Amanda wouldn’t support that,” he said. Atletico. “But that simply doesn’t exist.”

He added: “I can’t argue that less time means fewer injuries. So should men fight fewer rounds and fewer minutes? Should the NFL reduce time on the field? Should basketball have three quarters instead of four?”

Other top fighters in women’s boxing have been asked to move to three-minute rounds.

Weeks before the fight between Serrano and Ramos, a group of more than a dozen female fighters – including Natasha Jonas, Mikaela Mayer, Holly Holm, Heather Hardy, Christy Martin, Ann Wolfe, Laila Ali and Ramla Ali – released a statement jointly through Most Valuable Promotions to support the cause.

“As women, we have had to fight inch by inch to earn the same fairness and respect freely given to men,” the fighters said. “We are united in the desire and dedication to have the CHOICE to perform on the same stage, with the same rules, as the men in professional boxing. “We earned the CHOICE of 3-minute rounds, with 12 rounds for championship bouts to showcase our skill and greatness.”

Claressa Shields, the undisputed light middleweight champion, has long been an advocate of increasingly longer rounds. She told ESPN in 2021 that she believed the differences were partly in place to pay female fighters less money.

“I think the biggest thing in women’s boxing is that people say … women shouldn’t be paid the same because we don’t fight the same amount of time,” Shields said. “But I wish more people would realize that we didn’t put those rules in place; men did it. So men need to change those rules so that every world champion boxer can fight for three minutes and 12 rounds.

Bidarian awning Atletico that his team discussed with the WBC a couple of weeks ago about alternative actions. One idea was to allow fighters the option of adding two rounds to championship fights. Bidarian also said her team proposed keeping the women’s title bouts to 10 rounds, but they were contested at three minutes each until more data was available. The WBC rejected both suggestions, she said.

Serrano, as a result, rejected the WBC.

His next fight has yet to be announced, although Bidarian has said he will not return to spend less time in the ring. For Serrano, the importance of championing the future of women’s boxing is crucial.

“She was already one of the greatest boxers in history,” he said. “This further confirms that she is a trailblazer and, as her nickname says, the real deal. She just doesn’t speak it; she does. And I am beyond honored and proud to stand by her side to continue achieving these goals. Her next fight will be 12-3. And this is the path that will continue.”

(Photo: Alex Menendez/Getty Images)