Could The Natasha Jonas Terri Harper Rematch Finally Happen?
The stay at super-welterweight was always going to be a short one. A means to an end. But with the proposed fight with Hannah Rankin now very much dead in the water, Natasha Jonas will either make a voluntary defence of the WBO super-welterweight title on September 3rd in Liverpool or revert to the original plan and look for options much nearer her comfort zone.
Rankin will meet Terri Harper later this year, and time will tell if Jonas can be tempted back to add another belt at her weight of convenience. Jonas has made no secret of her desire to fight either Jessica McCaskill or even earn another meeting with Katie Taylor. To do so, she will need mandatory status. That could now be her next move.
Harper has moved up to super-welterweight for a reason. Maybe many. A possible rematch with Jonas presents itself with a victory over Rankin. But there seems too much bitterness from all sides to overcome for such a fight to become one of reality. But in boxing money talks. But money was part of the reason for the split in the first place. The wounds are deep and might be irreversible.
Jonas had a price that Matchroom was unwilling to match, and when Boxxer offered her a better deal, Jonas cut ties. Make no mistake, it wasn’t on friendly terms. In many ways, her price has now gone up.
The conspiracy theorists will no doubt indulge in those theories that is the reason Harper and her team have followed Jonas up in the weights. Revenge, and spite, will no doubt be in the minds of some. It could just be plain old seeking to right the perceived wrongs of the first meeting in 2020. For Harper, beating Rankin creates a little slice of history but it is also the way back to Jonas.
I am of the understanding that Harper wants Jonas again, beating Rankin might open the door ajar for a repeat of their brutal and controversial first meeting back at Fight Camp. Harper was badly hurt in the 8th round and escaped with a hotly-disputed draw. Jonas was desperately unlucky that night, and the feeling was the fight took something away from the confidence of Harper. The loss to Alycia Baumgardner and the manner of it did much deeper damage.
Harper is now on the rebuild, a routine comeback win earlier this year started the process, and on the surface, Rankin would seem a risk, but despite the rise through the weights, Harper may have a little too much for the reigning WBA and IBO champion. Without wanting to completely write off the chances of Rankin, and a Rankin victory isn’t that remote, but Harper is the likely winner. And with a win, Harper will no doubt then turn her attention to her old rival.
But with Jonas and Harper now on opposite sides of the great boxing divide, making the rematch looks like a route with many obstacles to overcome. Probably too many. Matchroom has failed on a number of occasions to reach Jonas’s value, now the price will have gone up considerably. Will they dig deeper this time? I have my doubts. It might be Harper will have to do a Baumgardner and fight on the now rival platform if she does indeed want to share a ring with Jonas once again.
Boxing moves in mysterious ways, very few saw Jonas fighting at 154, and even fewer saw Harper following her. Once a division of little interest, now it is one of much interest. Jonas and Harper have certainly created interest and money. Rankin will undoubtedly have been financially rewarded in a manner she couldn’t have envisaged before. She was in demand and her bank balance will be a lot healthier because of it. Her signature on the Harper contract would not have come cheap.
Jonas always wanted the rematch with Harper, and I have no doubt that at the right price, she would be tempted to revisit the rivalry. Jonas feels she beat Harper before and would love the opportunity to remove any doubt in any rematch. But after months wasted in the complex negotiations of the now fruitless attempt to fight Rankin, and with all the political fallout that still lingers from the past, I’m not convinced that Jonas will waste too much time hoping the rematch with Harper now finally happens. Time doesn’t heal everything. And the price might now just be a little too high.
Photo Credit: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing