Natasha Jonas: Unfinished Business
Things can change very quickly in boxing. Opportunities come and go in the blink of an eye. From hero to zero, you can be yesterdays hero, a fighter deemed surplus to requirements, that irreversible slide to being a forgotten boxer.
Pre-fight the talk was Katie Taylor, post-fight the conversation turned to retirement. Natasha Jonas suffered a shocking devastating stoppage loss to Viviane Obenauf in 2018. All the plans for another showdown with Taylor had disappeared, a career now seemingly at an end.
It wasn’t just the defeat, it was the manner of it that left Jonas contemplating leaving the sport for good. But once the dust had settled and the pain of defeat had eased, Jonas set her sights on redemption.
With fragile confidence and shattered dreams Jonas set about rebuilding her career. In just a few minutes thoughts of world titles had disappeared, Jonas had a long road ahead of her to get back what she had suddenly and unexpectedly lost.
Feriche Mashauri was first up in 2019, Jonas was initially tentative, but gradually the nerves and self-doubt eased, and she was on her way.
Bec Connolly was next, the spite returned to her punches, confidence returning and her opponent was duly dispatched inside the distance. Another win against Bianka Majlath, was more frustrating than rewarding. But those 3 wins collectively had set up what Obenauf had taken away from her.
The fight with Taylor had now been replaced by one with a fast emerging potential superstar.
Terri Harper has established herself very quickly in a sport that has come to life over the last few years.
At only 23, Harper is already a unified champion. The WBC and IBO super-featherweight titles are hers, more belts are expected to follow.
Harper, the bright new star of women’s boxing, will defend her titles against Jonas early next month and is widely expected to retain them. Harper holds a win over Obenauf, and is 1/12 in some places to defeat Jonas.
But maybe those odds don’t really reflect the chances of the Liverpudlian. Is too much emphasis being placed on their respective showings against Obenauf?
Jonas had the look of a fighter thinking ahead, her mind elsewhere when she fought Obenauf. But despite that shock defeat, she firmly believes Harper won’t be able to handle her at her best.
There does seem a renewed vigour of late in Jonas. When she returned to boxing in 2017 it was because Jonas felt she hadn’t achieved what she could have done in her amateur career. The fight with Harper presents an opportunity to fulfil that goal.
The champion will be a formidable opponent, and despite her confidence, Jonas knows what she is in for, and the size of the task ahead of her. The Liverpool fighter knows only the very best version of herself will give her a chance of the upset.
Victory for Jonas might be improbable, but it is by no means impossible. It’s a case of unfinished business, it’s why she came back to the sport. Jonas has said ‘this fight means everything’ and I believe she is being unfairly written off. Everything is a powerful tool.
Jonas lost plenty in that ring in Wales back in 2018, the Harper fight is her chance to get it all back. If Jonas pulls it off, it will be a defining moment in a career which she sees as currently unfulfilled. A win and Katie Taylor might suddenly be part of her future once again.