Natasha Jonas jumped up several weight classes to the junior middleweight division this year, and has already picked up two major world title belts, with an aiming on adding a third against Marie-Eve Dicaire on Nov. 12 in Manchester.
It’s been an impressive feat for the 38-year-old Jonas (12-2-1, 8 KO), who came up empty-handed in title tries at 130 and 135 against Terri Harper and Katie Taylor, respectively, and also one that, being fair, comes with the fact that the women’s boxing talent pool gets pretty shallow north of 135 lbs, though certainly not without some really good fighters.
Jonas tells Sky Sports that she’s willing to take on the biggest challenge anyone can in the weights north of 147, meaning Claressa Shields, who just became a two-time undisputed middleweight champion last weekend with a win over Savannah Marshall.
“I would never say no. I‘m not scared to take on big challenges, as you can see from my career so far. I’d take her here or in the US, I think she said anyone now has to go to her turf, and I’m happy to do that.”
Jonas also makes clear that she’s not overlooking Dicaire (18-1, 1 KO), the 36-year-old Canadian who regained the IBF belt last December, after losing it to Shields in 2021, which made Shields undisputed champion at 154 at that time.
Shields vacated those belts to go back to 160 and chase the Marshall fight, and Jonas has taken outstanding advantage. If she does beat Dicaire, and there’s money there for a Shields fight, it could happen.
On that note, the fight is probably bigger in the UK than anywhere in the US, not only because it probably draws a bigger live gate there, but also because the TV money will be notably better in UK prime time than US prime time, unless attitudes have changed in the States.
Shields hasn’t had a fight on US TV in prime time since her Jan. 2020 win over Ivana Habazin, which was the last one Showtime picked up. Since then, Shields has done two fights on streaming pay-per-view — the Dicaire fight in Flint, Mich., and the Ema Kozin fight in Cardiff — and the Marshall fight from London, which Top Rank picked up with ESPN+, in part because Mikaela Mayer was fighting Alycia Baumgardner on the same bill.
You also have to figure on a potential contract weight. Jonas is fighting in the 154 lb division, but both of those bouts have seen herself and her opponents come in under 150 lbs on the scales. Shields could potentially make 154 again, but for middleweight titles, they might try to do a 155 lb weight. Jonas would likely come in under that, and Shields can’t reasonably be expected to go under 154, for various reasons, including that she shouldn’t have to do so.
As far as pure dimensions, both are listed at 5’8”, but as anyone who watches boxing enough knows, people carry their weight differently, and even a few lbs between weight classes can mean a lot.
With the Marshall fight settled, Shields really does have an unfortunate lack of potential opposition between 154 and 168. She’s basically beaten everyone there is to beat and done everything there is to do, and there is not some rush of top prospects coming through at the moment, either. She could move up to 168 again and face undisputed champion Franchon Crews-Dezurn — the two are friends and did their pro debuts against one another in 2016 — or she could rematch Marshall.
Otherwise, if Jonas grabs another belt on Nov. 12, yeah, she’s right in that conversation as far as what’s actually available, and her willingness to be flexible about traveling and all that is another point in her favor.