Natasha Jonas: “The more you tell me I can’t do it, the more I’ll prove to you that I can.”
By Hannah Lucas
After a sporting lifetime of plotting her revenge against Katie Taylor, Natasha Jonas will finally cross paths with Ireland’s golden girl once again on Saturday – this time with the undisputed title on the line and along with it, the chance to make her dreams reality.
Stronger and fitter than ever, Jonas is determined to avenge the loss she suffered at the hands of Taylor on the Olympic stage back in 2012 in their upcoming encounter, a fight which should deservedly top the card as the main event.
But, as Jonas has said, there were only four rounds last time, that was nine years ago, and the pair are two completely different fighters now.
When comparing Taylor to the likes of Vasyl Lomachenko and Anthony Joshua on Tuesday’s media Zoom call, she said: “One person comes along and shows that they’re human.”
Perhaps this provides a glimpse into Jonas’s incentive for Saturday night.
Though, throughout her camp, Jonas has remained in high spirits and has thrived in a newly found confidence coming off the back of the Terri Harper fight, where she stunned the country and proved to her critics that she is not to be underestimated.
But, the credit she received for her world class performance in their bout at Fight Camp last August provided little assurance, as victory was stolen from her by a controversial split-draw.
This time out, Jonas will be determined to take the decision out of the judges’ hands.
Confident, yet always remaining modest, Jonas said in the pre-fight press conference: “Every time I’m asked to step up, I do, and I perform. Being the underdog for me is no different, I’m always the underdog on the big night. The more you tell me I can’t do it, the more I’ll prove to you that I can.”
Even then, Jonas entered that fight facing many struggles pressed on her by lockdown, yet still managed to put in the better performance.
“You’ve got to remember that going into the Harper fight we’d just come off a lockdown. Financially I didn’t know when I was going to box again, I had the baby twenty-four-seven because the schools were shut, and I was in a bit of pickle of where I was going to go or where my opportunity was going to arise.
“Obviously, we got that opportunity, and the baby came along to all the sessions, she was a big part of that camp. It was great to be back, and I was starting from down the mountain mentally, physically, emotionally. Now I’m not there, after the Harper fight, I’m at the top of the mountain. I’m starting at the Harper fight and building up from that. Everything says that I’m much better than from the Harper camp and I know I had to be there.”
There has been much speculation in the boxing world that Jonas stands her best chance of defeating Taylor if she can muster up an early knock out. Afterall, she is in the best shape and head space of her life, which makes this her prime time to take on the world’s greatest. Though, a long-haul fight seemingly lands in Taylor’s favour.
But, after spending time finessing her power shots in training, it seems more likely than ever that Jonas may be able to dig out that knock-out punch and make a first for the undefeated Taylor if she were to be on the receiving end.
She said: “I think in boxing one punch changes everything. I do believe I have power; I don’t want to make a prediction or disrespect anybody by saying that. After the traumatic experience of round eight against Harper, I promised myself that they are learning curves and that will never happen again. If I get that opportunity, it’ll be the end of the fight.”
Jonas’s trainer, Joe Gallagher, has been working hard in camp to prime her for a stoppage win to stop any debate surrounding Saturday’s score cards.
He said: “It’s good to see the bookies are giving Natasha a better chance against Katie than they did against Terri Harper, that’s good for a start. It’s friends reunited, Katie Taylor – what can you not say about her. What she’s achieved, she’s a national hero back in Ireland, what she’s done for female boxing across the world, nothing but respect for her.
“This is the fight business; come Saturday night, this is strictly business. Katie Taylor, she’s the media darling, Natasha Jonas is going into the fight after a great career performance. She won the WBC super-featherweight title, only two people in the world didn’t think she got it, but apart that she’s a world champion in my eyes.”
Their Olympic dual is irrelevant now. Two old rivals will meet again as new fighters on the clean slate of the pro ranks. Without question, Taylor is close to being unbeatable, she’s certainly special, and will bring a very tough fight to Jonas, but Jonas could match that. She may be Taylor’s hardest obstacle to overcome on her glory trail yet and could prove that even the ‘unbeatable’ are, in fact, beatable.
Gallagher agreed: “Natasha Jonas now moving up to lightweight, here she is now taking on what people describe as the greatest all time female fighter. This is a fight that if there was to be three-minute rounds for women’s boxing, this would be it. If you go back and watch their London 2012 Olympic fight, it was brilliant. But to show how much both have improved since then, it would be better in 12 x 2 or 10 x 3 contest.”
But, not only does Jonas have to turn up on the night, the judges and even the commentators must too and must not be blinded by Taylor, according to Gallagher.
First, Jonas and Harper’s draw caused speculation. Then Taylor’s triumph over Delfine Persoon in their Fight Camp rematch raised a few eyebrows too, with Jonas herself believing that Persoon deserved the win from her ringside seat. Some have even suggested that was evidence of Taylor slowly starting to decline and Persoon exposed her as being beatable. But, speculation aside, it’s clear both fighters possess quality and class, and there must be no place for debatable decisions in Saturday’s bout.
“We’ve got a ten round sprint here; we’re seeing that with Natasha fight of the year with Terri Harper. We’re going into this fight with the bookies siding with Natasha more, the judges are to come and do what they need to do, not to be here in awe of Katie or Matchroom. They come here and score what happens, Sky have got to commentate on punches landed, not where they’re from or what’s going round.
“Natasha is a strong live underdog, I’m telling you now, Katie Taylor, whether she wants to say it or not, this will be the hardest and most disciplined training camp she’s ever had for any of her fights. She knows the serious threat Natasha Jonas brings. They know the threat, what we want in this fight is fairness by the judges and the commentary to score on what’s seen. If everyone does their job, including me and Natasha, we’re going to have a new undisputed world champion come Sunday morning.”
Jonas’s wildest dream is now within touching distance and after Saturday night, she could be taking all the belts home to Liverpool and to her little girl. A shock win it may be, but she’s proven that she’s more than capable of pulling it off.
Gallagher adds: “Sit back, enjoy your popcorn and enjoy what it is – it’s the biggest female fight the UK and Ireland has ever seen. We’re privileged to be part of it and see this event. We’ll roll onto Saturday night.”
Although the legends and greats in the sport, like Taylor, are deemed by many as immortal, immortality only exists in fairy tales and on Saturday night, Jonas could rewrite that fairytale with her own happy ending.