Women’s boxing is thriving right now. With several ultra-competitive divisions spawning several must-see fights, the supply is more than enough to meet the demand. The incredibly healthy state of women’s boxing has fans excited for the future.
Much of the success of the women’s game can be traced back to fighters like Laila Ali, Ann Wolfe, and Lucia Rijker. The best female boxers of the modern era have taken the torch from their predecessors and raised the bar even higher. Today, Evolve Daily will examine the four true elite standouts in the modern women’s arena.
4) Cecilia Brækhus
Before Katie Taylor and Claressa Shields were making headlines, Cecilia “The First Lady” Brækhus was doing the business. She has been nothing less than inspirational in demonstrating several reasons why women should take up boxing. The Norwegian’s career was wildly successful – having won gold and silver in the 2005 European World Championships, she turned her head to the paid ranks.
Brækhus won her first world title in March 2009, beating Denmark’s Vinni Skovgaard to pick up the vacant WBA and WBC female welterweight titles. It would be ten years later until she lost her first fight, in a battle with Jessica McCaskill in Oklahoma.
That defeat was followed by another decision loss to the Brit but wouldn’t be the last time she would enter the ropes. A win over Marisa Joana Portillo in 2022 left the plucky Scandinavian with a record of 37-2 in the sport. No mean feat for a fighter that has been arguably the chief beacon holder of women’s boxing since 2009.
Perhaps the highlight of Brækhus’ career is becoming the first woman to hold WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO titles simultaneously. But she is also regarded for being one of just 11 boxers in history to hold all the aforementioned four major world titles at the same time.
3) Amanda Serrano
With so little to separate the greatest female boxers of the modern era, Serrano could be as high as first on our list. Depending on who you ask, she could be the best of the best. The Puerto Rican’s skillset is just about as diverse as they come, with skill, punching power, and panache in abundance.
Like the other boxers featured on this list, Serrano is a record-breaker. She holds the Guinness World Record for most world titles won in different weight classes (9) and was also the first woman to attain “Super World Championship” status by the WBO.
Serrano’s only losses to date have come in the form of contestable decisions to Frida Wallberg and Katie Taylor. This makes her record an impressive 45-2-1, at the time of writing. Serrano has expressed a desire to continue competing, with no set date for her retirement.
Fewer female boxers in the modern era can even dream of coming close to Serrano’s success. An inspiration to young fighters across the globe, her status as a legend is written in concrete.
2) Claressa Shields
Arguably the world’s most famous female fighter of the modern era, Shields is also one of the most talented. Hailing from Flint, Michigan – around 100 miles from the hometown of her friend and mentor Floyd Mayweather Jr. – the American is one of the most recognizable faces in the sport.
Shields’ journey to superstar status started with an introduction to the “sweet science” from her father, Bo. Having learned about the great Laila Ali through her father, she dedicated herself to training at age 11. It would prove to be the most crucial decision of Sheilds’ life, as she swept up multiple amateur titles. While Pan-American and World Championships medals were impressive, back-to-back Olympic middleweight golds in 2012 and 2016 truly brought Shields into focus.
Shields turned pro in November 2016, winning the WBC and IBF female middleweight titles against Sydney LeBlanc. More and more success would build as she looked to forge an era of absolute dominance inside the ropes. Wins over Christina Hammer, Marie-Eve Dicaire, Emma Kozin, and Savannah Marshall showed an even more robust version of Shields.
In becoming the first woman to hold all four belts in two weight classes, simultaneously, the American would etch her name into the history books. But one sport was not enough – in 2020, Shields shook up the world by announcing her intentions to pursue a career in MMA. You could say Shields is already one of the best boxers in MMA history. She signed a multi-fight deal with the promotion, where her record – at the time of writing – is 1-1.
1) Katie Taylor
Undoubtedly one of the best female boxers of the modern era, Katie Taylor is widely regarded as one of the greatest of all time. The Irish technician wrote herself into the history books by unifying the women’s lightweight division by way of a legion of capable rivals. It took more than sweat, blood, and tears to forge such a legendary career.
In addition to her incredible ring craft and arsenal of weapons, Taylor is the consummate professional. A lifelong dedicated student of the sport, “The Bray Bomber” took up boxing at age 12, guided by her father, former Irish amateur champion, Pete Taylor. Taylor would sweep everything before her en route to a phenomenal gold medal win at the 2012 Olympics in London.
The soft-spoken Bray native enjoyed a near-flawless run in her pro career, racking up wins over Cindy Serrano, Kimberly Conor, and Rose Volante. But controversial victories over Delfine Persoon led to questions over her superiority. Taylor soon redeemed herself with a hard-fought decision win over Amanda Serrano, which is widely regarded as the pinnacle of a career stacked with highlights.
Taylor’s efforts to conquer the light welterweight division would fall flat when she suffered her first career loss, to Chantelle Cameron, in May 2023. Regardless of how Taylor goes out, she will be remembered alongside the best boxers of the modern era. A huge commercial success in the sport, the Irishwoman has collected the lion’s share of major pay-per-view headlining fights. More importantly, she has led the way in inspiring many budding warriors to pursue a career in boxing.
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