Natasha Jonas: Heartache, Sacrifice & Now The Reward
In a sport that’s so brutal and raw, it can also bring genuine moments that cut through even the hardest of hearts. We had one such moment last night inside the sold-out AO Arena in Manchester.
It was a leap into the unknown for Natasha Jonas. Jumping through multiple weight divisions there was always that doubt about what would actually happen. It could have ended in tears, the wrong kind. But we got the right stuff, Jonas was clinical, powerful and simply blew the Uruguayan Chris Namus away so brutally that any doubts about her ability to compete higher up the weights now look dead in the water. Third time lucky, luck didn’t come into it.
Hannah Rankin the unified WBA/IBO super-welterweight champion could be next, she could have been first. Rankin was offered the fight last night, but Jonas has always been high-risk low reward, with no belt on offer Rankin declined the offer. But with three belts between them, Jonas now has something Rankin wants. For the Liverpool fighter, why stop at just one belt. Jonas said last night was leverage for something more. Hankin vs Jonas is a good fight that has come out of absolutely nowhere.
But the future is to be decided, the here and now should be applauded, appreciated and the moment lived in. Jonas has waited too long for this moment to be cast aside for what may lie ahead. She should be allowed to embrace it.
There are some moments in your life you wish you could bottle up and replay over and over. Back in the fighters hotel last night when Jonas walked in at sometime past midnight with her world title in hand, the warm and loud applause was one such moment. It was special and says plenty about the love for a fighter who is as classy outside of the ring as she is inside it.
When the cameras stop rolling the fighters are forgotten as is the blood, sweat and tears that comes with each fight camp. The emotional, mental and physical sacrifice is beyond recognition to mere mortals. Jonas has been on some journey, she has looked broken at times, the route back from near oblivion has been long and painful.
Credit should also be given to Joe Gallagher who has more than played his part on the long road back. Blamed for things he hasn’t done, given little praise for the things he has done. Gallagher gets criticised for sticking up for his fighters and wanting the absolute best for them. Some promoters don’t like him, it’s easy to see why. Gallagher deserves his place in the Jonas story.
Last night was the reward for all the heartache and sacrifice. There were hugs, handshakes and smiles aplenty on a night that will live long in the memory. The smile that never seems to dim beamed a little brighter, everything she craved, Jonas now has. Boxing rarely does sentiment, it did last night. Jonas came back for inner peace, the missing piece in her career. She now has it.