Natasha Jonas had a strong amateur career and competed at the 2012 Olympics in London, which was the first time that women were allowed to box at the Summer Games. Though she lost to Ireland’s Katie Taylor — the eventual gold medalist — in the second round of the tournament, she was seen as a fighter with the skills to make an immediate impact on the professional game.
Now 36, Jonas hasn’t quite lived up to those early hopes. She rattled off six straight wins over sub-.500 opposition in 2017-18 before being stopped in the fourth round by Viviane Obenauf in Aug. 2018, a fight where Jonas was simply overwhelmed, dropped twice before her corner threw the towel.
The ex-Olympian has come back to win three straight and lift her record to 9-1 (7 KO), but even in the shallow waters of top-level women’s boxing, Jonas hasn’t really done much at all as a pro.
Still, she’s got a bit of name value in the United Kingdom, so she’s got an Aug. 7 fight with rising young star Terri Harper lined up, with Harper defending the WBC 130-pound title.
Harper, 23, did not go the Jonas route, really. Harper did fight in the amateurs, and in just 17 amateur bouts she won three national titles and a silver medal at the European Youth and Junior Championships, before turning pro very quietly in Nov. 2017.
But Harper (10-0, 5 KO) has raced to the top of her division. She’s already got a handful of better pro wins than Jonas’ best, including a decision victory over the aforementioned Obenauf in Nov. 2019, following that up by convincingly lifting the WBC belt from Eva Wahlstrom on Feb. 8.
When you really look at the records and what they’ve achieved in the pro ranks, Harper should be a clear favorite against Jonas. And the older challenger is using that as motivation to be the absolute best version of herself in August.
“She’s done everything asked of her. She’s beaten people I couldn’t. She’s beaten experienced girls like Eva Wahlstrom,” Jonas said. “She’s took the title, she’s got the title, and I’ve just got to take that off her. Hats off to her for everything she’s done. I’ve got nothing bad to say about her. I’m realistic. I’ve just got to bring the best version of me, and I don’t think she can deal with that.
“I think she’s the bookies’ favorite. Judging by some social media comments I’ve seen she’s possibly edging it with the fans, too. There’s no pressure on me. She put out a statement the other day saying that there is, but I don’t believe there is. She’s the champion, she’s got to keep hold of it, she’s been very vocal about how she’s going to keep hold of it. She’s got to go out and prove it.”
Jonas also believes youth could potentially betray Harper, who may be getting ahead of herself, possibly looking into the future at fights with the likes of Mikaela Mayer.
“She’s young, she’s hungry, and she’s proved she can do 10 rounds,” said Jonas. “She’s fit, but I also think that some of those things can be your undoing when you’re young. Sometimes you’re a bit naive, you can be a bit overeager when you’re hungry. She’s been talking about stopping the fight early, so we’ll see. That’s all I can say.”