The theme of the fight between Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano has been female empowerment for good reason.
On Saturday night, Ireland-born Taylor and Serrano, a proud native of Puerto Rico, will become the first women to headline a boxing card at Madison Square Garden. But the bout has a much deeper meaning for Taylor.
The undisputed, undefeated lightweight champion will fight for the woman she is named after: her grandmother, Kathleen.
“My family has always been my biggest inspiration and supporters,” Taylor told on The Post this week at the Magic Hour Rooftop Bar at Moxy Hotel Times Square, just a few blocks away from the Garden. The Irish fighter was accompanied by her mother, Bridget, who was Ireland’s first female boxing judge.
“I come from a strong line of women in my family,” said Taylor, the youngest of four siblings, including a sister and two brothers. “My grandmother, who’s going to turn 90 in a few months, she’s still going strong. We’ve always been close. She’s an amazing woman with an amazing heart, and she’s one of the most amazing people you will ever meet. We have always been so close.
“I’m actually named after her. My name is Kathleen on my birth certificate, and her name is Kathleen. I’m so blessed and privileged to be named after her. If I could only be half the woman she is, I’d be a very, very proud person.”
Taylor is quiet, subdued and calm. Upon first meeting the 35-year-old, one wouldn’t expect she’s a titan in the ring as the undisputed champion, No. 1 pound-for-pound. Serrano is No. 2.
Taylor caught the boxing bug at a young age. Her father, Pete won the Irish light-heavyweight title in 1986. According to Sports Illustrated, as a teenager, Taylor would tuck her hair under her headgear and sneak into boys’ matches under the name “K Taylor.”
She cultivated a love for boxing amid a budding soccer career that included competing as a midfielder for the national team in UEFA and World Cup qualifying tournaments. She even walked away from a number of scholarships to colleges in the United States.
Before Taylor made her pro boxing debut in 2016, she already had won a gold medal at the 2012 Olympics and five world championships. She credits much of her success to being “dialed in” mentally by living a secluded lifestyle.
“I don’t do any meditation, per se. But I’m staying away from a lot of people,” Taylor said. “I spend a lot of time on my own. I love the solitude during training camp, and that’s a big part of dialing in for me. I see my team and that’s about it. Just staying away from any distractions that may be out there. I’m a woman of faith as well, and I do read a Bible and stuff like that. That’s a huge part of my preparation always.”
Taylor’s hobbies include spending time with family, practicing her Christian faith, training and blocking out the outside noise — a perk of living in a quiet Connecticut neighborhood.
“I don’t take too much knowledge about what people are saying, to be quite honest. I never know what people are saying about me, whether that’s good or bad. But one thing I do know is that people have not seen the best of me yet and that’s what I’ll showcase Saturday.”
Although Taylor has already fought at the Garden, (she beat Delfine Persoon by majority decision in June 2019 to fully unify the lightweight division), her bout with Serrano on Saturday will be much different.
“This is going to be a moment in history Saturday night,” Taylor said. “This is a history-making moment and the biggest fight in my career.
“I’ve been completely dialed in for this. I realize this will be the biggest night in my career. I have definitely been dieting over these last few months and every single day I’m working and just thinking about the work.
“This isn’t just special for myself and Amanda. This is special because we’re going to inspire the next generation,” said Taylor, who has been a pioneer for women’s boxing in her homeland. “Moments like this, inspiring young girls, for me, that’s the legacy I’ve always wanted to leave. I want to have that influence and to me, that’s the best part about this journey.
“Me and Amanda definitely have a mutual respect for each other. She’s here because she’s a champion as well. The reason this is huge is because it’s the best versus the best, champion versus champion.”
Serrano, a 33-year-old who grew up in Brooklyn, is a seven weight-class world champion, who held nine titles from 115 pounds all the way up to 140 pounds. She holds the Guinness World Record for most boxing world championships held in different weight classes by a woman.
Even before Serrano (42-1-1, 30 knockouts) dominated Miriam Gutierrez in a one-sided decision last Dec. 18 in Tampa, Fla., she had her sights set on a bout with Taylor (20-0, six KOs).
“She’s one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world,” Serrano told The Post.