Katie Taylor came back from the brink of defeat to maintain her unblemished record with a hard-fought points victory over Amanda Serrano at Madison Square Garden.

The undisputed champion had to dig deep to get through the middle rounds where Serrano took control of the fight, but Taylor recovered in the seventh and eighth before finding her feet once again in the final two stanzas to finish in style.

A barnstorming final 30 seconds saw the two fighters slug it out until the bell eventually tolled, and while Serrano secured the verdict from one judge, the other two favoured the champion, who secured the split-decision victory, the judges scoring it 94-96, 97-93, 96-93 in Katie's favour.

Victory number 21 for Taylor since turning to the paid ranks following the disappointment of the Rio Olympics as she holds onto her five belts and remains the undisputed world champion.

A historic occasion in the heart of Manhattan at the Mecca of boxing, and as expected, the famous arena was sold out with 19,187 in attendance to watch a female fight headline the Garden for the very first time.

The diaspora of Puerto Rico and Ireland came out in force to follow the daughters of their respective nations, while over four thousand travelled across the Atlantic from Ireland to support the most important Irish athlete of a generation.

An entertaining undercard warmed up the crowd before the remaining seats were filled ahead of the main event, which lived up to and exceeded expectations in one of the most entertaining boxing matches in recent history.

A clash of styles led to an intriguing encounter at the Garden

A bright start from the lively, accurate Taylor who made an immediate statement in the centre of the ring before allowing Serrano to step forward, looking to put pressure on the champion, who appeared quite happy to fight on the outside.

Katie looked fast and accurate fighting off the back foot knocking Serrano back with a couple of solid combinations, and while Serrano was enjoying some success with her constant forward motion, it was Katie who was landing the more effective shots.

To her credit, Serrano kept marching forward with that big leading right hand, immediately coming through with the powerful straight left, again though, it was Katie who caught the eye again in the second with a big right that rocked Serrano, while a stinging left hook followed later in the round that caught the challenger off balance.

Warning signs showed the danger of Serrano as she pinned Taylor to the ropes in the third but Katie looked strong at that stage, musceling her way out of danger, happy to get into that tear-up that she spoke of pre-fight.

Serrano maintained her approach as the aggressor in the fight throughout the fourth and while she was a little wild, allowing Taylor to score with some well-timed counter punching, however, perhaps the constant pressure was starting to drag Taylor into the challenger's type of fight.

Amanda Serrano fought on the front foot for entire contest

But then came the fifth and it was a huge round for Serrano, who will rue the fact that she ultimately failed to finish the contest as she hammered Taylor against the ropes early in the round with plenty of time remaining to take advantage of a desperate-looking Katie who looked dead on her feet.

Katie’s legs had clearly gone and the 2012 Olympic champion didn’t appear to have the awareness to get out of trouble, just about remaining upright, attempting to trade in what were worrying times for the belt holder.

Even in the following sixth round, Serrano had ample opportunity to finish the job, but perhaps she was also starting to fade as she lacked the composure to throw that telling punch that would have ended the contest and ended Taylor’s unbeaten run.

The seventh and eighth rounds were pretty uneventful and the drop in tempo helped Taylor to regain her strength going into the championship rounds.

Her energetic start to the ninth round finally got the crowd, who were silenced by the middle rounds, back supporting the cause.

Big rights at the end of the round sealed it for Taylor who seemed to have that bounce back in her step and was once again looking sharp and elusive.

It was tough to call going into the final round, with both fighters needed to come out with intent - and what a stanza of boxing it was.

An incredible effort followed from both fighters who looked back to their brilliant best for those final two minutes; to see the two warriors stand toe to toe for the final 30 seconds, leaving it all in the ring, was mesmerising.

With five rounds to go in this epic encounter, it looked like this bout would not make it all the way to the end of the scheduled ten rounds, and when that final bell did ring, it was far from clear as to who would have their hand raised in victory with a draw looking a likely outcome.

The scorecards would decide this one, and while the majority Irish crowd were momentarily silenced by the announcement that the first judge had called it for Serrano by two rounds, the celebrations kicked in moments later as those vital two words reverberated around the illustrious New York arena.