Natasha Jonas is relishing the underdog role against Katie Taylor in a rivalry that has been nine years in the making.
The pair faced each other at the 2012 Olympics, when Taylor edged out the Liverpool born Jonas in a brilliant fight as Ireland eliminated Great Britain.
Fast forward nine years on and Jonas is stepping up to face Taylor once again, this time for the undisputed Lightweight championship of the world.
Jonas is stepping up from facing Terri Harper for two versions of the world super featherweight championship in August, where she contested a split decision draw.
May 1st – let’s go!! pic.twitter.com/6CCJPJidhr
— Katie Taylor (@KatieTaylor) March 19, 2021
Renewing an Olympic Rivalry
Looking back nine years to their Olympic fight, the female boxing landscape is vastly different.
Since then, Taylor has gone on to unify the lightweight division, winning and currently holding all four world championship belts with a record of 17 wins, 6 KO’s and no losses.
In addition, she is also a two weight world champion as well as having a glittering amateur career winning the Olympic Gold in London 2012.
Whereas Jonas was also a very good amateur, she was the first ever British female boxer to qualify an Olympic Games when she earned a bronze medal at the world championships in 2012.
Jonas’ record stands out 9 wins, 7 KO’s and a single loss and draw each. Her sole loss came to Viviane Obenauf in 2018, when fighting for the WBA international super featherweight title, when she got caught and couldn’t recover.
Since then she’s built her boxing résumé back up which culminated with that frustrating draw result against Harper.
Speaking to MerseySportLive, Jonas looks back on that day with fond memories, despite the loss.
“Yeah it was disappointing for me but I still have fond memories of the day and the occasion.
“I gave everything that I had then, so I had nothing to be disappointed about, it’s just the better person won on the day.”
— BETFRED (@Betfred) March 19, 2021
Coming into the fight against Taylor, who is widely regarded as the pound-for-pound number one female fighter, Jonas is relishing the underdog role and mentality.
It has only added fuel to the fire, in a fight where she has nothing to lose and everything to gain.
“If people think I’m in it for the payday or just to say that I’ve done it, they’re wrong.
“The worst thing you can say to me, is you can’t do something because I will 100% prove you wrong.
“To totally write me off is the wrong thing to do.
Harper Rematch Fallout
CONTROVERSIAL DRAW ❌
A superb performance from @TashaJonas, but the judges deem the fight a draw with Terri Harper.
Many onlookers thought Jonas did enough, and she certainly did us proud in there. 🥊
DETAILS ➡️ https://t.co/k5yQn9rqiJ
— MTK Global Boxing (@MTKGlobal) August 7, 2020
In Jonas’s previous fight, she battled to a controversial draw with Harper at Fight Camp in August last summer.
With the fight being such a success with fans, and the end result of a draw not satisfying anyone, it seemed an immediate rematch was next logical step.
“Lord only knows why that fight hasn’t happened next! But I am not a MatchRoom fighter, so Eddie (Hearn) isn’t under any type of obligation to give me a fight.
“We tried after the (Terri) Harper fight to do a 3 fight deal and we couldn’t agree on the Harper money and even in that 3 fight deal, Harper would have been the third fight, so I was never getting that rematch.
“It was going to be someone like Heather Hardy, or someone of that standard, another fight and then Harper. I am in no worse position for fighting Katie, because I was still two fights away from Harper regardless.”
That fight was a brilliant spectacle and many thought Jonas did enough to walk away with two world title belts.
Harper is a world class fighter, but Taylor is, of course, the gold standard in the women’s game and Jonas knows she has to be better but she is relishing the biggest fight of her career to date.
“I mean, I was disappointed not to come away with two after beating…well I thought I beat Terri! (Harper)
“So to come away and fight for them all is a brilliant opportunity. People are not so quick to jump to conclusions after the Terri performance but I know I have to better and I will be.”
Respect and Desire
The odds may be stacked against her but Jonas is taking inspiration from recent wins in the boxing world where highly favoured fighters and champions were dethroned.
“I’ve got nothing to lose and not many people will step up to the plate to come and fight Katie.
“We saw (Teofimo) Lopez beat (Vasily) Lomachenko when everyone thought he was unbeatable, we’ve seen McCaskill beat (Cecilia) Braekhus, twice as well! And she’s had them belts for years and years”
With the history of the Olympic fight between the pair, there is a real respect there; this was seen when Jonas commentated on Taylor’s fight at Fight Camp last summer.
Jonas is expecting a respectful build up between two old foes, but also can’t wait for that May 1st date.
“It is a story in itself, I just can’t wait to do it. I hate all this build up, I just want to go and do it.
“We aren’t going to be up and throwing chairs at each other, it will be very respectful, I have a lot of respect for her and I assume she has a lot of respect for me too.
“Knowing the person she is, I’m sure it is the case. But in the ring on the day, your respect has to be earned and that’s what she’ll have to do.”
For years I have expressed the need for big companies to use their brand power, media influence and funds to support women within the sport and boxing in general. Today I'm proud to announce that I'm a @SportsDirectUK @Everlast_ sponsored athlete #TeamEverlast #GratenessIsWithin pic.twitter.com/tgM0iwsCEz
— Natasha Jonas (@TashaJonas) March 25, 2021
In a week full of announcements, another one has seen Jonas become an Everlast sponsored athlete.
The scheme announced a historic commitment to British boxing by committing to sign fifty-two athlete partnership deals in 2021.
The game-changing pledge seeks to empower and inspire the next generation of male and female fighters, from grassroots to elite amateur and professional levels, driven by a long-term goal to support diversity and equality in sport.
Jonas is delighted to be involved and to have the platform to promote change through sport.
“It’s a massive time for women’s boxing and we are seeing a positive change. I have made a lot of noise about big commercial companies supporting not only boxing, but females in the sport.
“The fact that Everlast is stepping up in such a big way is momentous and sets a precedent for others to follow. Everlast has a long history in boxing.
“The brand has supplied kit and equipment to some of the world’s greatest boxers on their biggest nights. To be included in the Everlast team is huge for me.”