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‘No friends, no phone’: Amanda Serrano and Jake Paul are boxing’s most unlikely partnership

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‘No friends, no phone’: Amanda Serrano and Jake Paul are boxing’s most unlikely partnership

There is a hidden gym on a quiet street in Brooklyn. It’s not flashy or crowded, but inside it’s cool and edgy.

It’s a perfect spot for Amanda Serrano, the Puerto Rican boxer who prefers her life off the grid. And yet she has chosen Jake Paul as a most unlikely partner to take her to the next level when it comes to the riches the sport can provide.

The Post spoke with Serrano at the gym, where she has been training for her fight against Miriam Gutierrez on Dec. 18 — the co-main event for the rematch bout between Paul and Tyron Woodley at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. She is laser focused – and not just for this fight.

“I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t party. I don’t have friends. I don’t go on dates. I never had a boyfriend,” said Serrano (41-1-1), a seven division boxing champion, who signed with Paul’s management company, Most Valuable Promotions and BAVAFA Sports in September.

Amanda Serrano fights Miriam Gutierrez on Dec. 18
Corey Sipkin

“I’ve never had a cell phone — ever. I started boxing at 18, after I graduated high school. You know, I didn’t have time for that, and after high school I was like, ‘I’m not going to do it.’ I started boxing.

“I’ve seen fighters that have have a boyfriend or they have a girlfriend and they’ll get into a fight with their partner, go to the gym and they won’t have the same performance that they had just a day before when their relationship was good… I don’t need it. If I’m going to put myself in the sport. I’m going to give it 100 percent. I’m going to sacrifice whatever is on the outside and distractions.”

Paul was in disbelief while discussing Serrano’s lifestyle.

“It’s unlike any other thing I’ve ever seen,” he told The Post. “She is the most dedicated person I’ve ever met. To not have a phone in todays culture, to solely focus on boxing is such a statement. This is why she will be remembered forever.

“I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t party. I don’t have friends”

Amanda Serrano

Paul — whose outspoken personality and trash talk earned him the nickname, “The Problem Child” — operates much differently. The 24-year-old millionaire isn’t shy about flaunting his model girlfriend, Julia Rose, a former reality star who appeared on MTV’s dating show, “Are You the One?”

Paul enjoys living his life in the spotlight and documents his pranks and feuds on YouTube, where he has over 20 million subscribers. He is unapologetic about launching lewd insults to his opponents (or anyone, really) through social media and interviews.

Just last week, Paul called Tommy Fury “boxing’s biggest b–ch” when the British fighter announced he backed out of their bout due to a bacterial chest infection and broken ribs.

Serrano, though, prefers to keep quiet and let her fists do the talking. She’s timid and a bit shy in person, but she’s much feistier in fight mode.

Katie Taylor (left) could be Serrano's next fight.
Katie Taylor (left) could be Serrano’s next fight.
Sportsfile via Getty Images

The 33-year-old Serrano credits her older sister Cindy — a professional boxer, who held the WBO female featherweight title from 2016 to 2017 — for “inspiring me to get into the sport.” Cindy’s husband Jordan is Serrano’s trainer, who is also part of her tight inner circle outside of boxing.

Serrano will use Cindy’s cell phone “every now and then” to interact with her fans on social media or shop on Amazon (her guilty pleasure).

Amanda Serrano
Amanda Serrano
Corey Sipkin

Serrano has won 27 consecutive fights since 2012, when she suffered her only defeat to Frida Wallberg via unanimous decision. Her most recent victory came against Yamileth Mercado in August, as the co-main event of Paul’s split-decision win against Woodley.

“I’m doing things these women are afraid to do. They’re afraid to sacrifice,” Serrano said. “They’re afraid to risk their undefeated record, themselves, or their body to be great. I think greatness requires sacrifice, and I think that’s what I’ve done — I sacrificed practically no life. I have no life. Boxing is my life. Fighting is my life.

“I don’t sit and think about, ‘Oh, I could be out partying or I could be out.’ I just continue to look at the future and say, ‘This is what I’ve done. I’m great. I’m a great athlete,’ and that’s what pushes me.”

Serrano has held nine titles from 115 pounds all the way up to 140 pounds, and holds the Guinness record for most boxing world championships held in different weight classes by a woman. 

“Signing with MVP promotion has to be one of the best decisions I made so far in my career. I’ve been seven division world champion for I don’t know how many years now and nothing really great has happened to me,” Serrano said. “Everything’s just been boxing, boxing, doing the same thing.

“Meeting Jake Paul, I already got my biggest payday… They’re pushing me. He’s giving me platform in the spotlight where other people who would never know who I am are knowing who I am now.”

Serrano is under Jake Paul's management company now.
Serrano is under Jake Paul’s management company now.
Instagram

Despite that illustrious resume, she said she had not received the recognition she deserves until she met Paul and his advisor, Nakisa Biderian, who founded MVP earlier this year. Bidarian, the former CFO of the UFC, has been a guiding force in Paul’s transition from the YouTube world to professional boxing.

Paul sees the value in Serrano and believes she’s the perfect addition to the MVP roster.

“We didn’t evaluate Amanda as a female athlete. We evaluated her as one of the best athletes of the last two decades in combat sports,” Bidarian said. “She has accomplished as much if not more in combat sports than any male or female since turning pro 13 years ago. — On that basis alone, it was an easy decision to ask her to join MVP.”

Serrano named athletes, including Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard, who’ve been supportive of her since the move to Paul’s team.

“So being under Jake Paul has opened eyes to different people to know that women’s boxing is here, and I’m super happy and super proud to be his first fighter, and that’s why I have to continue to prove to that I deserve this spot and I’m going to,” Serrano said.

Serrano said she believes the Internet personality is misunderstood. The pair met when she fought on his card with Woodley,. They then trained together at his brother Logan’s home in Los Angeles, where she was pleasantly surprised by Paul’s skills and demeanor in the ring.

Amanda Serrano celebrates her first round knockout of Eva Voraberger
Amanda Serrano celebrates her first round knockout of Eva Voraberger
Getty Images

“After I trained with him in L.A., it was like a connection,” Serrano said. “He’s not an average YouTuber going to boxing just to do it for views. I saw the intensity. He wanted to prove that he belongs in the sport of boxing and that really opened me up to just continue to see him do great in boxing.”

Paul knows he and Serrano have vastly different lifestyles, but sees the similarities they share.

“We are both easygoing and like to make jokes, but at the same time we take what we do very seriously and we both have killer mentality,” he said.

Serrano, who’s moving up in weight (135 pounds) to fight Gutierrez on Dec. 18, completely changed her diet and training for the bout — which she hopes leads to a fight with Katie Taylor in 2022. Taylor and Serrano, along with Claressa Shields, are considered the top female pound-for-pound boxers in the world.

“He doesn’t need to box. He’s going out there and he’s breaking records and doing great things for the sport of boxing,” Serrano said of Paul. “And I’m honored to be on his team because he’s he’s the truth. He’s putting in the work, he’s training hard. There were no games [during training]. He was joking around, but there was no laughing. We did exercises together and I couldn’t keep up with him. I was like, I’m dying and he kept going, and I was like this kid is the truth.”

Paul added, “We both go all out, nonstop and it’s almost like we have something to prove in every training session.”

Serrano believes critics “only want to see the negative” when it comes to Paul. “He’s in his twenties, he’s living his life. But now he’s doing something great, and you just have to acknowledge it.

Serrano at her Brooklyn gym
Serrano at her Brooklyn gym
Corey Sipkin

“I feel like at 33, I’m at my prime, I’m smarter, I’m stronger than I was last year. I hired a nutritionist. It is funny how you open your mind and your body works.”

Taylor’s promoter Eddie Hearn has been pushing for a meeting between the two female fighters since Taylor beat Kazakhstan’s Firuza Sharipova on Saturday in Liverpool to retain her title as undisputed lightweight champion. Bidarian also said he believes that will be Serrano’s next fight if she beats Gutierrez.

“She’s one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world,” Serrano said about the 20-0 Taylor, noting that there’s talks of a seven-figure payday if both sides can agree to a contract.

“I’m super excited and pumped. It would be the biggest female fight ever. To have two great powerful women… I got Miriam in front of me, but that’s what motivates me because I want the Katie Taylor fight. So I’m going to go out there and make sure that I deserve that.”

Serrano knocks out Eva Voraberger in the first round.
Serrano knocks out Eva Voraberger in the first round.
Getty Images

Serrano is hoping to use her newfound fame under Paul and Co. to cast attention on women in boxing, especially Latinas.

“And I want people to know that, I am a woman. I’m a Latina, but I’m a powerful woman and a powerful Latina,” Serrano said. “And I just want them to know that we’re in the sport. We’re trying to make a change. I’m trying to encourage more women is coming to the sport. And I just want to show them that great things can happen to you and for you if you surround yourself with positive people,” she said.

Serrano got up and walked over to a nearby ring, where she prepared for a workout inside the neon green ropes.

“I say, I have two and a half years left in the sport and then I get to enjoy my life,” Serrano said. “But once I do that, I want to be able to look back and say it was for a reason and that sacrifice was worth it.”

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

Legendary NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden died Tuesday morning at 85, the NFL announced. News of the football icon’s passing hit Twitter on Tuesday evening, and athletes, coaches and broadcasters from across the sports world reacted.

Fellow broadcasting legend Dick Vitale, who is currently battling cancer, called Madden “the greatest analyst of all time of any sport” in his Twitter tribute.

Former Yankees pitcher and notable Raiders fan CC Sabathia said “your legacy will live forever.” Madden coached the then-Oakland Raiders from 1969-78, a couple of years before Sabathia, a Vallejo, California native, was born. Lakers star LeBron James had similar words about Madden’s lasting legacy, adding an infinity emoji.

Former tennis star and social justice activist Billie Jean King recalled meeting Madden as a “privilege.”

Radio voice of the Rangers Kenny Albert, a five-sport broadcaster who’s been with FOX Sports since its inception in 1994, shared a photo circa 26 years ago to remember Madden.

ESPN’s Bomani Jones took a bit of a shot at current color commentators, noting that Madden “set an unreachable standard.”

Frank Caliendo, who’s made a career out of impersonations, including one for Madden, said he was surprised how emotional he felt.

Several football players, and others, including Saints running back Mark Ingram II and former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, credited Madden with being part of the reason why they love football.

Rams wide receiver and NFL MVP contender Cooper Kupp quote the late coach in his tribute: “The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.”

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

MINNEAPOLIS — The Knicks got back another body in rookie point guard Miles McBride, who was cleared from protocols Tuesday and rejoined the team in Minnesota.

But there is no longer any hype for the rookie’s return. Kemba Walker is back as the starting point guard and coming off winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors with four standout games, including his Christmas Day spectacular. The Knicks have gone 2-2 since Walker regained the starting job.

“It’s great,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He had a great week. He’s playing great basketball. The team winning helps him get recognized and he was a big part of driving that winning. It’s great for the team.’’

McBride was also spectacular in his last outing before getting COVID-19, when he played the entire second half Dec. 16 in Houston and seemingly earned a spot in the rotation. In fact, McBride had strung together two decent outings before he was ruled out. But things have changed since his emergence and McBride is likely back to being a bit player.

Without a practice, McBride wasn’t even expected to see time when the Knicks faced the Timberwolves to kick off a four-game road trip.

Miles McBride
NBAE via Getty Images

Of course, with Walker’s arthritic knee, anything is possible. The Knicks play Detroit on Wednesday in a back-to-back, so it’s uncertain whether Walker will complete both contests. In addition, Immanuel Quickley is out of COVID-19 protocols but Thibodeau wasn’t sure he was ready for meaningful minutes.

That left Walker against the depleted Timberwolves, who were missing their three top players (Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell), all because of COVID-19 .

Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker
USA TODAY Sports

When McBride got sidelined by the virus and Derrick Rose needed ankle surgery, Walker was resurrected by Thibodeau and it’s been a stunning comeback story.

Though Thibodeau has clear reservations about Walker based on his nine-game banishment due to his defensive malaise as an undersized point guard, he admitted after the Christmas Day triple-double against Atlanta that Walker is playing “much more aggressive.”

Walker’s triple-double that featured 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds was a lot different than his prior outing, when he scored 44 points against Washington.

“I thought his passing was terrific,’’ Thibodeau said before the Knicks resumed their schedule.

“Kemba had control of the game. The game tells you what to do. That’s what I loved about the way he played. I don’t think he forced anything. They puts size on him and were aggressive in their pick-and-roll coverage. He didn’t fight it. He attacked pressure the way you like to attack pressure. You don’t fight pressure with pressure. Don’t try to split it. Get rid of it, go to the backside. Let the game tell you what to do.’’

The Knicks coach is finally seeing all the elements of what Walker can do. Before his demotion, Walker was nothing more than a no-defense, 3-point shooter whose plus-minus was an abysmal minus-122.

Thibodeau was also concerned about his durability in sitting out two of the three back-to-back sets. The last load management game in Atlanta in late November triggered Thibodeau’s decision.

But now it’s only superlatives from Thibodeau in judging the last four games.

“Sometimes it’s going to be his shooting, sometimes it’s his penetration and getting in the paint to force a collapse and sometimes they’re being aggressive with their traps get rid of the ball quickly,’’ Thibodeau said. “The overall play, his rebounding. When your guards rebound, those are key to fast breaks. The more guard rebounding we get the better we can be. ‘’

The Knicks still have three players in protocols — centers Nerlens Noel and Jericho Sims and the newly infected Wayne Selden. Quickley and Kevin Knox were cleared on Christmas but were held out for conditioning.

No matter. The Knicks go as Kemba goes.

“He’s much more aggressive,’’ Thibodeau said. “That was the challenge. At the beginning of the year he and Evan were two new starters. Sometimes guys are trying to fit in. he’s being very aggressive which is the way we want him to play. Not deferring at all. When he and Julius [Randle] are aggressive like that our team is different.’’

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Bar raises dramatically for Zach Wilson in matchup with Tom Brady, Buccaneers

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Zach Wilson and Tom Brady

When Zach Wilson stares across the MetLife Stadium field at the opposite sideline this Sunday, it won’t be Trevor Lawrence he’ll be looking at as his game-day counterpart.

Lawrence, drafted by Jacksonville one spot before the Jets selected Wilson at No. 2 overall last April, is a contemporary.

This Sunday at MetLife, the Jets rookie quarterback won’t be staring at a contemporary on the other sideline. He’ll be staring at the GOAT.

Tom Brady.

The bar raises dramatically for Wilson and the Jets, who are coming off of their feel-good, get-well win over the woeful Jaguars and Lawrence this past Sunday.

Brady and Buccaneers, who are 11-4, NFC South division champions and seeking to repeat as Super Bowl champions, play the Jets, who are 4-11 and seeking more signs of development from their rookie quarterback.

To say this is a step up in competition for Wilson and the Jets going from Lawrence and the Jags to Brady and the Bucs is as obvious as pointing out that Tampa Bay receiver Antonio Brown has had a few off-the-field incidents during his otherwise stellar NFL career.

There hasn’t been a lot to keep the interest of the Jets fan this season — other than watching Wilson’s development. That took an unfortunate pause for the four games Wilson missed with a knee injury, but he’s been back for five games and has looked like a better quarterback, throwing only two interceptions in those games (none in the last three) since returning from his injury.

The problem, though, is that Wilson hasn’t been producing enough touchdowns, throwing for three of them and rushing for four others in the past five games.

Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg; AP

Baby steps, though.

Wilson was the better quarterback this past Sunday when matched up with Lawrence, who threw for more yards than Wilson did, but Wilson ran for 91 yards, including his electric 52-yard scoring jaunt, and made key throws when he needed them.

Wilson will not win Sunday’s game against Brady and the Bucs throwing for the 102 yards he had against the Jaguars. He and the Jets will need more.

Consider this: Brady enters the game having thrown 37 TD passes and for 4,580 yards this season and averages a league-high 305.2 passing yards per game.

Then this: The Buccaneers average 29.5 points per game this season, second most in the NFL.

And this: Wilson doesn’t have a single 300-yard passing game, averages 183 passing yards per game and has thrown seven TD passes in 11 games.

Seven TD passes is a pedestrian two-game total for Brady.

Wilson and the Jets are playing with house money anyway in what always has been a developmental season, so Sunday against Brady should, at its very least, be a great measuring-stick learning experience for Wilson, who’s studied Brady on tape.

Wilson revealed this month that he watched film of Brady before the Jets played the Eagles on Dec. 5 in an effort to pick up tips on how Brady worked against the Eagles defense when he played them earlier in the season.

“I thought it was really cool to see kind of how he went through his whole process, how he navigated the pocket, different things like that,” Wilson said at the time.

On Sunday, Wilson gets to see that process up close as Brady tries to dissect a Jets defense that has yielded 29.9 points per game this season, the most in the NFL.

That puts an added onus on Wilson to produce on the other side of the ball, because he knows Brady is going to get his. Wilson will likely need to produce four TDs — any way he can — for the Jets to simply remain competitive with the Super Bowl champs.

That’s a lot to ask of a 22-year-old kid who’s produced just 11 TDs in his 11 starts, up against Brady, who’s thrown 618 TD passes and for 83,784 yards in his remarkable career.

It, too, is a lot to ask playing against an aggressive Tampa Bay defense that’s ranked No. 9 in the NFL in points allowed (20.8 per game) and is led by former Jets head coach Todd Bowles, who’d surely like to send a holiday message to his former employer.

If you don’t think Bowles will be blitzing the bejesus out of Wilson, then you probably think Antonio Brown is a living saint.

The good news for the Jets is that Wilson has shown incremental improvements, particularly when it comes to his decision-making and quicker releases on his throws.

“He’s coming along, he’s getting more comfortable, he’s calmer back there,’’ Jets coach Robert Saleh said Monday. “He’s in a great headspace and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow, continue to grow.’’

A big part of that growth will take place this Sunday as he watches the GOAT operate from the opposite sideline at MetLife.

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