Terri Harper was gearing up for a big year, and she may still have one.
The 23-year-old rising star of women’s boxing impressively defeated Eva Wahlstron on Feb. 8 in Sheffield, winning the WBC junior lightweight title, her first world title.
A fight with Natasha Jonas was signed in early March and slated for Apr. 24, but was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, of course. Harper, like many, didn’t expect it to be as big an issue as it has been.
“We got the news that the fight was canceled, and I thought it would all be over in a couple of weeks, as I guess quite a few people did,” Harper told Sky Sports.
But Harper and Jonas (9-1, 7 KO) have made clear that they have every intention to go on with the fight, and the latest word has been it will take place sometime in July, though that could be pushed into August.
Harper (10-0, 5 KO) noted that she had just recently bought a house before her fight with Jonas was scrapped, so she’s been able to set up a bit of a gym in her garage and keep training to a degree, which followers on social media have been able to see the last three months. And she’s also started working again with her trainer, Andrew “Stefy Bull” Bullcroft, while trying to be safe about it.
“We’ve just been doing a bit of technical work, a bit of shadow boxing from two meters (apart),” Harper said. “We’re just doing it to get used to the southpaw stance (of Jonas) and get that logged into my memory. I’m young and I’m kind of like a sponge, I soak things up quickly. So hopefully we get back to where we were.”
Harper says she’s not anticipating any problems in getting ready for the 35-year-old ex-Olympian Jonas, who will of course be facing the same limitations in preparation compared to normal.
“Personally, I just want a good few weeks with Andrew with the technical pads,” Harper said. “Hopefully we can get sparring soon. A couple of weeks, and I’m happy and ready to go.”
It would be foolish to look past Jonas — though her best days may be behind her, and she was stopped in four by Viviane Obenauf back in Aug. 2018, she’s won three straight against low-level foes and still, on paper, could pull out some skills and tricks of the trade that the young Harper hasn’t had to deal with to date.
But Harper and her trainer do have big plans at 130. Stefy recently tweeted a plan of attack: Jonas, then a unification with WBO titleholder Ewa Brodnicka, then a mandatory defense against Katharina Thanderz, followed by further unification with the IBF and WBA titles, currently held by Maiva Hamadouche and Hyun Mi Choi, respectively.
“We want to unify, we want to fight the other champions, and make defenses against my mandatories. Then we’re going to look at moving up in weight,” Harper said of the ambitious road to possibly becoming undisputed.
It’s certainly a lot of big planning, but Terri has delivered tremendously thus far, and really appears to be a potential young, breakout star for women’s boxing, particularly in the United Kingdom.