Natasha Jonas: “I’ve made a decision that’s best for me and my family.”
The first time I ever interviewed Natasha Jonas she had just wrapped up filming for a TV drama called Clink. Jonas played an inmate in a women’s prison, and in many ways, another different type of captivity has just ended. Boxing politics can do that.
Jonas has been caught up in contract woes, legal papers being thrown around like confetti at a wedding, a bitter divorce that ended badly and regrettably. In boxing, it’s a common thing, it’s nothing new. The fights outside of a ring are sometimes more brutal than those inside it. Jonas knows that better than most.
But Jonas is now free of the political shackles and now has a new beginning, a brand new start with an old friend. While the behind the scenes wranglings have dragged on, Jonas found herself having to say very little in her defence of recent happenings. Even now there is a limit to what can be said. If something isn’t said, there is usually a reason why.
But Jonas now has that brand new start, a deal with Boxxer and Sky was announced last week, and the relief is obvious:
“I am so relieved more than anything. As you can imagine it was always coming, but it never actually came, but now it finally has, I just feel relieved.”
Not being in the Matchroom bubble obviously makes things a little more problematic in terms of getting a world title shot, but it is by no means impossible. Jonas understands that she will need to work her way into a mandatory position for another opportunity at a world title:
“The idea has always been to get into a mandatory slot. To be honest I get when people say I hadn’t earned the rematch with Terri Harper or Katie Taylor, I do get that. So I do want to get in that mandatory position, I don’t want to keep getting world title shot after world title shot, because it does open the doors for people to criticise, I want to earn my opportunity. I have no issues with having hard fights contrary to popular opinion. If you are a real boxing person you would know that, just look at my last two fights.”
Despite the fights with Harper last August and Taylor earlier this year Jonas has been largely inactive and has missed out on at least two other fights due to the contractual differences between herself and Matchroom. But Jonas told FightPost she is ready to return sooner rather than later:
“I have been training since June, I thought I was going to be on Fight Camp in August and the Liverpool show in October. I have had a couple of weeks off to go on holiday with my daughter, but other than that I have been consistently in the gym since then.”
The wait has been worth it for Jonas. For the first time in years, she has relative security in a sport that provides very little of that. The boxing side of her deal is a good one, and with the financial backing of Boxxer and the platform the size of Sky, Jonas has options and will be given the opportunity to earn another shot at a world title.
But crucially the deal she has signed is more than just the immediate future. Jonas is 37 and knows her career is winding down, although there is plenty of ambition still remaining, so there is one eye on the future. Jonas has already started work with Sky, combining the punditry role with a little bit of commentating thrown in as well. Her role with Sky will develop further, and Jonas has hopes of expanding her TV work further into other sports. There has been criticism by some, but Jonas has made her decision for the long-term and not the short-term. Jonas is delighted by the deal, the smile a little brighter than normal, the relief as she says, even more so:
“To be fair the Sky commentary deal is an amazing add on. But the Boxxer deal is better than any deal Matchroom were offering, and that includes opportunities, monetary, everything. Even without the Sky Sports deal, the Boxxer deal alone is fantastic, but to have both is a double bonus it was too good an offer to turn down.
“They are not scared to pay out the big money, look at the Claressa Shields Savannah Marshall fight, it could have happened a long time ago but they were not prepared to pay out the money to get it done. So I know I will be supported when it comes down to the money side of it to fight someone big, I know it will be paid. Boxxer has said they will pay the money to make the world title fights happen for me. It is the same deal as the Matchroom deal but a better one, and they have also offered me a career during the boxing and after it as well. Eddie knew that and had a chance to match it and the offer he came back with wasn’t good enough.”
Jonas was offered the Taylor rematch as part of an extended offer with Matchroom, but with a better longer term offer on the table from Boxxer/Sky that included a career after her boxing career has ended. Jonas told FightPost it was an easy decision to make:
“People talk about the Taylor rematch, but it is one fight, do people want me to risk everything for just one fight.”
The Taylor rematch is still available if Jonas works her way to the mandatory position, and just because you are not in the Matchroom stable it shouldn’t exclude you from earning world title opportunities. No promotional outfit should freeze you out just because you don’t play ball. When Matchroom left Sky for DAZN they left the door wide open for others to join the party. Boxxer/Sky have the money and the platform to give boxers an extra option, and to push their value up. Fighters now have somewhere else to go, therefore, the price for their services goes up as a result.
Jonas has said many times that she can fight anywhere from 130 to 147, she has many roads available to reach her desired destination. The money to make it happen shouldn’t be a problem going forward for Jonas:
“I don’t want to go on the slagging off Matchroom way because I have had some good times with them. But I know the money won’t be a problem now, and if I was with Matchroom it would be, because since the Harper fight all I have moaned about is how little I have been paid in comparison to what I think I am worth.”
Jonas is no stranger to the safer side of the ropes, and is clearly a role she enjoys:
“I like doing the punditry and the commentary and it is a job afterwards. You get the best seat in the house for the biggest fights. I have done it for Five Live, Sky and DAZN, I enjoy doing it.”
There are no regrets from ‘Miss GB’ either for turning down the 3-fight offer last year which included the Harper rematch as part of that deal even though it wasn’t an immediate rematch or even the latest rejected Matchroom deal. Jonas has had a good previous relationship with Sky, and seems genuinely happy and excited to be back in their fold:
“Saying no to the Harper deal, got me the Taylor fight. Let’s remember I was put in the Harper fight to get beat and even in the Katie fight I wasn’t supposed to do that well. I was the away fighter and no matter what happens I don’t think I would have been seen as anything different.”
It has been a difficult time for Jonas, the first lockdown in March 2020 left her on the brink of financial ruin. The Harper fight initially fell through, and even though she eventually got that fight, it was on a much lower deal than it would have been pre-pandemic. Even with the Taylor fight, Jonas has only fought twice in nearly two years due to Covid and contractual issues. The easy way would have been to accept what was on the table, but Jonas felt the Harper rematch was worth more than what was offered, and simply this time, she had a better offer. It’s really that simple.
The new deal gives her that security, and her personal valuation has been met. Jonas’s patience has been rewarded:
“When the Harper fight fell through because of the first lockdown I was struggling badly financially and that was the reason I took it. I thought I could win it but I have a family to feed, my baby relies on me, I have got a house to run and bills to pay, like everyone else I was going through a bad time. No boxing means we don’t get paid, without my sponsors I would have lost my house.”
Jonas can now look forward instead of being frozen in time, with a deal that clicks many boxes.
There is an untold story from Liverpool, it may never be told in full. We can grab a ride on the merry-go-round of he said, she said, but for now, the past shouldn’t dictate the future.
I spoke to Jonas the day after her fight was cruelly pulled when she was about to go into the press conference on the Thursday before the fight. Jonas was understandably emotional, raging even at what had happened.
But thankfully, that Jonas has now gone. Happy with life, Jonas now has hope that her career will end on her terms, and with a deal she is truly happy with. Opinion will still be divided, but the one person that matters is happy:
“People have already made their minds up and got theories of why the deal has fallen through. But I’m honestly at the point where all I want to do is move forward. I don’t feel I need justify myself to anyone or try to get them onside. They think it’s wrong for me, come back in a year and tell me so. If not, just accept I’ve made a decision that’s best for me and my family.”