Laila Ali Says First-Ever Female Main Boxing Event Is 'What We've Always Wanted'

Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano will fight in the first-ever female main boxing event at Madison Square Garden later this week

Laila Ali attends The 2019 ESPYs
Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano will make history on April 30 when they become the first female boxers to fight in a main event at Madison Square Garden.

"They're having an opportunity to fight as the main event at Madison Square Garden for the first time in the history of boxing," former superstar boxing champion Laila Ali tells PEOPLE about what the event means for women's sports. "That's what we've always wanted. I've been saying that from the time I was boxing, that we want to continue to help women's boxing grow."

The former boxer — whose record is undefeated — began her professional career in 1999 and competed until 2007. Throughout her own career and still, Ali has been passionate about female boxers receiving their due praise, from higher compensation to endorsement deals.

"Eventually, that will help women be able to make the pay that they deserve when they're world champions and they've earned it in the ring. This just shows we're getting closer to that," Ali explains. "Women that are champions and that have earned it and haven't really received the recognition that they deserve or the pay that they deserve, or endorsement deals, those are the ones that are super excited to have this opportunity."

She adds, "It really will encourage other fighters that are coming behind them for generations to come that they actually can make a living at the sport."

Ali, the daughter of iconic boxer Muhammad Ali, made her own debut at Madison Square Garden in 2006 when she beat Shelley Burton in round four of 10, according to ESPN. "I fought at the Garden; didn't fight at the main event and I just think that this really shows that women's boxing has grown to a higher level since back when I was fighting," Ali says.

"It is a historical site for boxing," Ali explains to PEOPLE about the iconic New York City arena. "It was special to me being that my father had fought there. If he was in the audience to watch this fight, I know he would be excited and enjoy it. I know that for sure."

Serrano, 33, has been boxing professionally since 2009 after finding inspiration from her sister, professional boxer Cindy Serrano. Nicknamed "The Real Deal" by fans, she will enter Saturday's match-up with a 42-1-1 record, according to Box.Live.

Taylor, 35, began boxing at age 11 and is undefeated in her 19 fights, with a 32% knock-out ratio, according to Box.Live. The Irish boxer also defeated Serrano's sister in a 2018 matchup.

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Ali tells PEOPLE that while she prefers watching fights from home, this is one that she'll attend in person. "It's exciting because I don't actually go to boxing matches. I'm someone who would rather watch on television for the most part because it's easier and I like to be able to see what's going on in the ring," she explains. "I'm a fan of Katie Taylor's. I've been a fan of hers since I saw her for the first time in the Olympics. She really, really impressed me and I've been following her career since then as a pro."

Serrano will offer her own impressive challenges for Taylor. Says Ali: "She brings a lot to the table and this is a fight that, you know, they both are in danger of losing so this kind of a fight is really exciting when you have two fighters and you don't really know which way it's going to go."

Taylor will take on Serrano Saturday at 7:30 p.m. EST on DAZN in over 200 countries. More information on subscriptions can be found at

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