Natasha Jonas Deserves Better

Natasha Jonas Deserves Better

As the YouTube videos played on loop, the daily catch up on the latest boxing news, the third professional fight of Natasha Jonas came into view.

Jonas had just recorded her third win and the post-fight interview was one of innocence and naivety. This was at the start of the professional life, free from all the politics and harsh and often cruel life of a professional fighter. They would come later.

The talk was looking ahead to bigger things, Jonas was seemingly on her way to the top of her sport. But things change quickly in boxing, after three more wins Jonas hit rock bottom.

The hopes and dreams appeared to have melted at that Ice Rink in Wales. Viviane Obenauf was brought over to lose, but she didn’t read the script. It was a horrible watch, and all the talk of a fight with Katie Taylor went with that devastating defeat.

Jonas walked out of that ring with the echoes of a career at an end. The changing room door shut behind her and Joe Gallagher, it remained closed. Sympathy is hard to find in boxing. The drive home was with tears and plenty of them. Jonas was contemplating a life without boxing. Retirement looked like the only option.

It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t quick, but from the brink of retirement, Jonas slowly but steadily rebuilt from within. From the early tentative and nervous steps, Jonas became reborn.

In 2020, Jonas was available, she had her name and she was viewed as over the hill. The loss to Obenauf gave many short memories, they remembered one fight and forgot the whole resume. Terri Harper, the unified super-featherweight world champion needed an opponent, Jonas was in the right place at the right time. But she was picked for a reason.

The narrative was that she was old, washed up, weight drained, Harper was expected to win and without too much discomfort. Post-fight that narrative changed.

Jonas came with her own plan, her own script. Harper was good last August at Fight Camp. It gets forgotten that she did very little wrong. Jonas was just better. The judges denied Jonas her moment, the draw a cruel twist on a night where she deserved better, but she had proved her point.

Talk of an immediate rematch soon died down, Harper went a different route. A telling sign of what Jonas did to her. The Liverpool fighter was on the outside looking in, her momentum in limbo.

Contract talks with Matchroom broke down. A three-fight contract was offered, including a rematch with Harper down the road. Jonas thought the Harper rematch was worth more. That value wasn’t meant.

Some may say Jonas would have been better taking something rather than nothing. But it was about principles. At that time, Matchroom was the only show in town. Jonas deserves credit for her stance, even though it ultimately cost her time and money.

But eventually, the phone did ring again. Katie Taylor also left a boxing ring knowing what Jonas has inside her. It was close. Taylor edged it. A fight of wafer-thin margins, decided by experience rather than ability.

Jonas had proved herself again at the very highest level. Matchroom wanted a contract extension. But unlike last year, they are now not the only show in town.

There are problems simmering below the surface. There were whispers of her scheduled fight last weekend in Liverpool being cancelled long before it was officially announced Jonas was off the card. The decision came as no surprise.

People blamed Gallagher, in reality, it was nothing to do with him. In the blame game, people look for the easy option. Often they are wrong.

The cameras started rolling, words were said unchallenged, many believed, forgetting that there are two sides to every story. One side has been heard, the other hasn’t. In time it will. People should hold their opinion until then. Jonas again deserves better and the benefit of the doubt.

Trust me, Jonas is doing what is best for herself and her family. At 37, Jonas has a limited time left in her sport, her next big decision will be based on the long-term and not the here and now.

Photo Credit: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing

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