Natasha Jonas: One Final Push?
You could put Katie Taylor and Natasha Jonas in a ring a hundred times and you would likely get what we got back in May. The only difference might be who wins each time. But the likelihood is every fight would be decided by a wafer-thin margin.
The fight in that sterile behind closed doors setting deserved better in many ways. Imagine watching those two fantastically gifted fighters, who both have the class outside of the ring to match their talents inside it, in a full arena. It would have lifted it to even greater heights.
Steve Bunce said the pair served up some greatness in a bout of such quality. Bunce was right, in truth, he might even have understated it. A deserving Fight of the Year contender. And then some.
The fight was close. For both, it was almost certainly too close. The scores of 96-94 96-95 and 96-95 reflected what we saw. Trust me, this year that has been a rarity. It was decided by one round. Maybe even by one punch.
A rematch looked certain. But ‘Miss GB’ had a better long-term offer and opportunity present itself. Jonas highlights perfectly that there is more than one direction in life.
“I’ve made a decision that’s best for me and my family.” A delighted and clearly happy Jonas told me with much relief soon after the formal announcement of her new life. Her year of much anger ended right there and then.
Her tweet at the time: ‘No politics, just boxing,’ said plenty.
Jonas is aligned with Boxxer and Sky, and she is now obviously outside of the Matchroom bubble which presents obvious problems in getting certain fights made. She still wants Taylor again and make no mistake, Jonas firmly believes she wins next time. But the old promotional partnership didn’t end on friendly terms, it might need more than money for a way back in. But while it will be initially difficult, impossible it most certainly isn’t. Boxing can sometimes work in mysterious and unexpected ways. There are ways.
But even Jonas will accept that Taylor is out of reach in the short term. Taylor and Amanda Serrano are likely to meet in another highly-anticipated fight in Madison Square Garden early next year. Jonas, at least for now, will have to look elsewhere.
“I want to win belts, I want to win championships, I want to be a champion,” Jonas said after her close defeat to Taylor. Her ambition to win a world title has only hardened. This isn’t a fighter who is clinging on for a few more paydays in the twilight of her career.
The Liverpool fighter only came back to the sport to find inner peace and career satisfaction. An amateur career cut short by injury, Jonas came back to the sport to become a world champion. On two different occasions, she has come extremely close to realising her dream. Agonisingly so.
Despite the obvious difficulties in certain areas, Jonas has options and plenty of them going forward. The super-featherweight ranks might suddenly open up a space for Jonas with previous foe Terri Harper moving up to lightweight after her recent setback. Mikaela Mayer needs an opponent for her return in March. The American wants the money fights and to experience a UK fight night and she wants to feel the heat of a UK crowd. A fight with Jonas in Liverpool would accommodate many things.
The 135lb division is still of much interest to Jonas also, and she can go higher. Maybe much higher. Jonas has many fighters on her radar.
With her new promotional connections, Jonas will head into a new year with renewed hope. Being the ‘home’ fighter carries many benefits, Jonas knows this all too well. It is often the difference between winning and losing, or in the Liverpool fighters case, the difference between winning and only drawing.
Jonas has overcome many setbacks in her life. Resilience would be a good title for her autobiography. But 2022 brings real hope it will all be worthwhile. The pain and sacrifice could soon have their reward.
At 37, Jonas knows it might be her last year in the sport, but it could be her best year. The year that gives Jonas everything she wants. Jonas will have learned many lessons from the fights with Harper and Taylor. Frank Bruno won a world title at the 4th attempt, Jonas might not have to wait quite that long. The autobiography might then have resilience and peace on the front cover.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/Boxxer