Natasha Jonas: Anyone With A World Title Is A Target
By Hannah Lucas
For Natasha Jonas, the road to reaching the elite level of professional boxing has been a rocky one, but perhaps in the near future, she could get her hands on the ultimate prize – a world title.
Almost a decade ago, Jonas’s Olympic career grinded to a halt after Katie Taylor’s triumph over her in the London 2012 quarter finals.
If Jonas was down at that point, it was best she was unaware of the problems that were waiting around the corner.
Her plan was to make her comeback at Rio. But, those hopes of another shot at an Olympic medal were dashed by a ligament injury to her toe, which she sustained in the ring at the Commonwealth Games. The choice between going through with an operation to avoid complications in later life, or to risk it and make her return at Rio, was crushing, but she chose the operation, which ultimately brought an end to her amateur career.
Since then, Jonas has made her return, only this time as a pro and it’s safe to say she’s come back with success in her sights. But, with every successful career comes lessons along the way that need to be learnt from.
Back in 2018, Jonas walked into the ring to face Vivienne Obenauf for the WBA International super-featherweight title as an undefeated prospect and a rematch with Taylor seemingly there for the taking.
But, a shock stoppage in the fourth round saw Jonas on the floor with no way out. Obenauf’s knockout had tarnished her sterling record with a first defeat.
Jonas said: “There’s no sole thing I can put it down to. Me and Joe had identified that one shot that she had and with boxing being boxing, I just got caught with it. I’ve never made an excuse about it; it was just a shot I got caught with. Where it had caught me was just behind my ear, so it affected my balance and I could see things coming, but my body just wasn’t responding. It was similar to Joshua, it was just one of those shots where you can’t get your balance.
“I remember Joe asking me stupid questions in the corner and I was there, my head was there, I knew what he was saying. But when I was actually out there boxing, it was like there was a delay between my brain telling my body to move.”
It seems Jonas has a thing about making memorable fights in August. That one, for the wrong reasons, but her most recent, for all the right ones.
Fast forward to Summer 2020; Jonas had landed a fight with Terri Harper in her Matchroom promoter, Eddie Hearn’s, back garden.
This was her chance to prove her critics wrong at a time when public hunger for the sport was at its peak, following its stoppage due to Covid-19. The impression Jonas made on the Fight Camp stage would set the tone for her professional career goals and she let the world know she was coming to cause the upset.
“Me and Joe were both in that camp to prove everyone wrong. Everyone just didn’t have me down for anything and it got to me and it got to Joe. A lot of people had said a lot of negative stuff about me and all along, I was trying to be diplomatic about it saying, ‘she’s not better than me’ and everyone was like ‘she is, she can do this, she can do that and you can’t do it’ and I just went and proved them wrong.”
Not only was Jonas preparing for a fight which under normal circumstances would be considered tough, but she was training during a pandemic.
“We normally do stuff in the pool, but obviously they were all shut, so that meant all pool sessions were off. We do running too and all the tracks were closed, but luckily enough one of the Manchester councils gave us access to one of their tracks, so we were able to do a lot of track work. Obviously, gyms were shut or were only allowed so many people in and there was limitations on sparring at one point.”
Nevertheless, her performance at Fight Camp put her back up there with the best in the division and has been ranked by Jonas as her best moment in her pro career. But, victory was stolen from her by a split draw decision.
“On the night I thought I’d won by a round and when I watched it back, I actually thought I won by two. It was a close fight, obviously each round was competitive, but I was disappointed because that mindset for that camp was totally different to the mindset of any other camp I’ve been in. It was harder than any other camp I’d ever been in and to come away with nothing to show for it was just really frustrating.”
After hearing of all the frustration, I wanted to know whether Jonas would be up for another shot at that title.
“Oh yeah, I’d be mad to say that I don’t. I came back in some sports to be the best, but never got a world title, so as good as my amateur career was, I don’t think I ever fully achieved fully what I wanted to. That was another reason for me wanting to come back into the pros, to put a broader line in the sand and be pleased with my career.
“So yeah, I definitely want that rematch, but I want to be paid fairly for it as well. Me and Eddie aren’t agreeing on a fee. We have said that we will deal with it early in the new year, so we’ll see, hopefully, it’s something that happens. I think the fans want it and anyone that watched Fight Camp its up for fight of the year for the British Boxing Board of Control, so it was a quality contest in the waiting. I just want to be paid well for it, both athletes want to be paid well for it.”
So, if a deal can be reached, Jonas could get another shot at taking Harper’s WBC super-featherweight belt.
Failing that, she’s got another plan – and anybody with world titles to their name had better watch out, and talk of that long-awaited rematch with Katie Taylor has surfaced again in recent days.
“I think anyone who’s got a world title between 130 and 140 is in my sights. When I say I’m a big super-feather, I get in the ring not heavy, but I’m comfortable at a certain weight and I think I wouldn’t say no to going up a weight or two to box for world titles. So, anyone who’s got them belts in them divisions is who I want.”