Harper vs Jonas: A Defining Moment
Despite the rather unusual setting of someone’s back garden, Terri Harper and Natasha Jonas will be part of something very special on Friday night.
The first all British women’s world title fight is a true defining moment for their sport. You sense that Jane Couch will be watching from home and thinking ‘finally’ all her pain in another long gone bigoted era wasn’t for nothing.
A period of great indifference is finally making way for acceptance. The sport is growing, the depth is improving, Harper and Jonas headlining is another major step forward.
The idol that became the rival, is the narrative that has played a big part in the build-up to the world title fight. Despite the required usual pre-fight words, the respect both fighters have for each other can’t be hidden.
Both are class acts, a real credit to their sport. They are at different stages of their respective careers, one at the beginning, and destined for even greater things. The other, perceived as being at the end, and given little or no chance of being crowned a world champion at the age of 36.
But appearances are often deceiving. I don’t see Jonas as being an ‘old’ fighter in the boxing sense. Despite her impressive amateur pedigree, she is maybe unproven as a professional. But she will enter the ring on Friday night relatively fresh, the scars and the wear and tear of too many ring wars won’t seal her fate.
Motivated by a fight that means everything, Jonas has prepared like never before. The talk from her camp has been nothing but positive, they really fancy it. Boxing News says she is a live underdog. They might be right.
But Harper is quite rightly the strong betting favourite. Unbeaten in 10 fights, she has done nothing wrong, and everything right in her career so far.
The former chip shop worker seems to be getting better and better, and at 23, her future looks golden.
Recent Matchroom signing, the undefeated WBO champion Ewa Brodnicka is an easy fight to make going forward. The American Mikaela Mayer has made no secret of her desire to face Harper. The future is possible unification fights and even that tantalising prospect of facing another former idol could be within reach. Katie Taylor is a distinct possibility for next year, the sort of fight that will propel Harper to another level.
Harper is the fighter with everything to lose, Jonas has nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Despite the odds and the much-talked-about showings against Viviane Obenauf, it is a much better fight than people think.
However the fight ends, women’s boxing will surely be enhanced as a result. Harper will move on to all those planned big nights ahead of her, and if Jonas pulls off the shock, it will complete an incredible comeback from that devastating loss to Obenauf back in 2018. A win and her story might be complete.
Eddie Hearn deserves huge credit for helping breathe new life into the women’s side of the sport, and it looks set to keep growing in the coming years. Hearn is adding to his growing stable of fighters, I doubt it will be another false dawn this time.
Harper and Jonas rightfully take centre stage on a night that will highlight everything good about their sport. For different reasons both deserve their moment in the sun, and will undoubtedly shine some much-needed light in a year laced very much with dark.
We will either get the expected or the unexpected, on a night that is pivotal to what lies ahead for the fighters and the sport they grace so beautifully.
Photo Credit: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing