Katie Taylor defeated Natasha Jonas in a thrilling contest, retaining the undisputed women’s world lightweight title after ten rounds of relentless action.
For the two elite female fighters, it was a chance to meet again after their bout nine years ago at the Olympic Games. The bout lit up the crowd then, in London, and this time in Manchester, the action was even better. So much better. And yet there was, sadly, no crowd to witness it.
In the first major boxing event in Manchester to take place since Feb 2020, Taylor won the razor tight contest by unanimous decision 96-94, and 96-95, twice. Your correspondent scored the world title fight a draw.
“Again, it was probably a bit too exciting for my liking,” Taylor told Matchroom. “It was definitely a toe to toe battle in there. I thought I was a bit flat early on, but I dug deep to win the championship rounds. I definitely showed the heart of a champion in there and that’s what won me the fight in the end.
“She showed everything it takes to win a world title in her last two performances. Tonight was a brilliant showcase for women’s boxing and boxing overall. Every time we fought as amateurs it was that type of fight as well. I’d prepared for a hard ten-round battle tonight and that’s exactly what it was.
“Eddie was saying that fight would have brought the PPV sales up a small bit. That’s obviously a great start. I feel sorry for the main event coming out after that fight. It was a thrilling fight. I’m just delighted to come out of it with the belts and still undefeated. 18-0, onwards and upwards. This is what I’m in the sport for, I want to be involved in the biggest fights. There’s plenty of those fights out there for me.”
Jonas told The Telegraph this week that victory would see her “find peace”. She must have gone some way to finding it, and it would be a treat to see them go at it again – when crowds return to arenas.
Nine years in the making, since Taylor claimed victory over Jonas in the quarter finals of the London 2012 Olympic Games, and went on to win the gold medal, the two women danced with space between them in a cagey opening round, a phoney war before the real battle erupted. Taylor looking to bullrush the challenger with her trademark hand speed as the Liverpudlian met her oncoming foe with a ramrod jab from the southpaw stance.
Against the orthodox champion it was so effective, as her hooks and counters were throughout the fight. Jonas complained about a clash of heads in the opening salvos and referee Marcus McDonnell warned both women about such collisions.
Jonas had a fine third round, timing her shots to head and body against the advancing Irishwoman, landing a perfect check hook. Both women had their successes in the fourth round, and in the fifth, the champion was in her groove in what was overall a brilliant advert for women’s boxing.
They traded heavy leather in the sixth, Jonas countering brilliantly, while Taylor continued to look for inroads with relentless pressure.
There was no let up in the seventh, as they traded heavy hooks, Jonas getting the better of the exchanges, one hook sending the defending champion across the ring off balance.
The eighth round see-sawed one way then the other, as punches bounced off Jonas, who continued to counter hook brilliantly as the fight stood on a knife edge.
Taylor came back powerfully in the ninth with the greater volume of punches, as the fight reached its climax. And what a denouement it was as both women tore into each other for the final two minutes, and then immediately embraced.
What a fight. It would be no surprise to see them play it back and fight again.