EXCLUSIVE: ‘Relieved’ Natasha Jonas eyes the winner of Katie Taylor vs Amanda Serrano after finally bringing her world title quest to an end… but Britain’s newest champion says she can’t wait around, revealing 2022 could be her final year in boxing
- Natasha Jonas defeated Chris Namus to finally end her world title conquest
- The Brit, 37, jumped three weight classes to claim the super-welterweight title
- Jonas had previously fallen short against Terri Harper and Katie Taylor
- The Liverpudlian now admits 2022 could be her final year in the sport
In 148 seconds of pulsating, one-sided action, Natasha Jonas finally realised her dream of becoming a world champion. A weight lifted, an unforgiving internal monologue silenced. All replaced by unrelenting, sheer relief.
It meant ‘everything’ to the 37-year-old Liverpudlian, as she told Sportsmail in the build-up to her latest conquest, where she jumped three weight classes in the pursuit of glory. ‘It’s peace for me. I could finally say I’ve got what I deserve,’ she said, then preparing to take on Ewa Piatkowska, who was replaced by Chris Namus after testing positive for Covid.
Who Jonas fought was irrelevant. This was about one thing only: the WBO super-welterweight belt, which she proudly and emotionally lofted above her head after annihilating her sorry dance partner.
Natasha Jonas ended her world title conquest by winning the WBO super-welterweight belt
The 37-year-old knocked a hapless Chris Namus to the canvas twice on the way to a TKO win
‘I just feel relieved,’ Jonas said, speaking from her Grandma’s home in the wake of victory. ‘That’s the only thing I can say. It’s just relief.
‘There was a lot of pressure about what happens if… you know, wanting to win for yourself, doing yourself justice, being on the card that it was, being the support act.
‘There was just a lot of stress and pressure and I’m glad it finished the way it did. I’ve justified it and got what I wanted, finally!’ On the biggest stage of all too, with Kell Brook and Amir Khan taking to the ring only moments after.
It’s certainly a brilliant success story, one Jonas agrees is made sweeter by the long, arduous journey it took to get there, with victory now healing the wounds suffered during a brilliant but brutally difficult career.
‘[The belt] symbolises everything that you go through and it makes the times you think, “Why the hell do I do this” worth it,’ she explained.
It also removes the seemingly eternal quest for closure. To the outside world, Jonas’ accomplishments were remarkable even beforehand – already a pioneer of women’s boxing, having been the first British female to compete for GB boxing and the first to qualify for the Olympics.
But for the fighter – who truly encapsulates that word – ‘it wasn’t good enough’. Neither was falling marginally short in her two prior world title fights, first in a controversial draw against Terri Harper – where most agree she won – and second in a points defeat to Katie Taylor.
Jonas was the first British woman to qualify for the Olympics, where she made the quarter-final
Jonas fell short in her previous world title shots vs Terri Harper (left) and Katie Taylor (right)
Jonas said: ‘When I say that to people about my amateur career, they’re like: “You went to the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games, world medallist, European medallist”.
‘On paper my amateur career looks amazing. Don’t get me wrong I do appreciate what I did. But for me it wasn’t good enough. Drawing to Terri Harper wasn’t good enough. Losing by a round to Katie Taylor wasn’t good enough.
‘I just feel a big weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I always knew I was good enough to have a world title and it annoyed me after the Harper one when I believed I should have won. I was just thinking, “Is this ever going to happen for me?” And now it has.
‘I’ve reached the stage where I don’t care what anyone else thinks. I do in the sense that I say to myself “right I’m going to prove you wrong”, but that’s more of a motivation for me.
‘It’s all about what I think of myself and how I’m going to live with myself. That’s more important to me than anyone else’s opinion.’
That’s not to say the support isn’t welcome. On a night of such significance, her accomplishment wasn’t overshadowed. Indeed, as she departed the ring much of the focus shifted quickly to Brook’s spectacular and almost equally one-sided victory. But Jonas wasn’t forgotten.
After dispatching Namus in style, dropping her at the end of the first round and immediately in the second, she was flooded by messages of congratulations, both personally and online.
Hailed by Tyson Fury, Claressa Shields, Ellie Scotney, Chantelle Cameron and more… even Jamie Carragher, Jonas’ popularity shone through. The boxing world revelled in the coronation of a new champion.
Jonas acknowledges a huge weight has been lifted off her shoulders following the win
She celebrated with her team after the fight, while she received floods of congratulatory messages from a number of notable figures in boxing
But one questions immediately came to mind: what next? ‘I’ve said all along I’m a lot of risk for no reward,’ Jonas explained.
‘But what a belt does give you is leverage, it does open doors. I’ve got something to say, “I’ve won this, now let’s fight” or “Hannah Rankin, do you want to unify?”
‘I’ll have some time off and when I go back to the gym with my team and Ben [Shalom], we’ll discuss what the options are and we’ll take the best one.’
There’s no doubt what the best one would be – the winner of Katie Taylor vs Amanda Serrano who fight on April 30. Whether it’s attainable is another question.
‘I’d love that fight, whoever it may be,’ Jonas said. ‘But then do I not fight until they’re finished?
‘Because no doubt, unless there’s a severe battering one way or the other – or a brutal knockout, there will be two fights for that, which will probably take up until October or at least the end of the summer. Am I supposed to wait for them to get their fights on? I don’t really want to do that.’
Jonas reveals she’d love to fight the winner of Katie Taylor (left) vs Amanda Serrano (right)
A more likely fight could be a unification against WBA and IBO champion Hannah Rankin
Importantly, Jonas doesn’t have time to waste. In fact, she admits 2022 could be her last year in boxing.
‘I just don’t think there’s going to be many options for long enough to keep me going,’ she said. ‘Your body can do anything it wants, I can keep doing this. But mentally can I keep putting myself through camps?
‘Do I want to spend the next two, three years putting myself through camps. The answer is probably no. So, I want a big 2022, where possibly I can get three fights. Then I’ll be able to see after that.’
Asked to clarify whether this could be her last year, Jonas confirmed: ‘Potentially, yeah.’
Having already delved into punditry work for Sky Sports, Jonas would still regularly make an appearance on our television screens. But for both the fans and fighter, perhaps 2022 is a year we should make the most of while we can.
‘Having punditry, something secure to go into afterwards is a big help. But I’ve done it before. I retired from amateur boxing and survived. I don’t think pro will be that different.
‘And like I did with amateur boxing, I’ll always be involved in boxing in some way. It’s such a big part of my life, it would be hard to totally get rid of it.
‘It is scary, you lose a bit of your identity – but every good thing must come to an end.’
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